LEWISBURG, W.Va. (WVDN) – In a pleasant surprise for bikers and hikers, construction on the Greenbrier River Trail was completed before Memorial Day weekend, thanks to double shifts by work crews and an unexpectedly mild winter.
Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White expressed her delight at the early reopening, stating, “We are elated to be reopening the trail nine months ahead of time.”
Attendees at the gate removal ceremony included West Virginia Secretary of Commerce James Bailey, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Brett McMillian, John Tuggle of Region 4 Planning and Development Council, district park manager Jesse Anderson, Tom Mercer with Orders Construction Company of St. Albans, Greg Belcher of Chapman Technical Group and Lewisburg City Council members with director of public works Tony Legg.
The extra cost for this part of the $52 million grant was projected to be $149,310, driven by overtime for construction crews and redesign of portage around existing culverts for natural tributary streams with increased wet weather flow rates.
The Greenbrier River Trail runs 78 miles north and south from Cass to Caldwell. A nearly 2-mile stretch was closed as part of Lewisburg’s water treatment plant upgrade project. Trail users and the tourism industry pushed for the overtime and the redesign in an attempt to shorten the impact of the closure of the popular trail.
Mercer praised the project’s completion, saying, “We pushed hard for this, to get it done by Memorial Day weekend!”
He also expressed admiration for the rock work around stream crossings where the pipe carrying water from the river to the treatment plant avoids several existing culverts and is camouflaged by concrete and stonework, ensuring a long-lasting and naturally beautiful result.
McMillion credited the early completion to “a good winter, a good contractor and a lot of cooperation,” and predicted a strong, long-term partnership.
Bailey called the project “a showcase of the future of city, state and DNR projects.”
Anderson was thrilled, saying, “It is a win, win, win. I could not be happier as a user of the trail.”
Tuggle summed up the sentiment, stating, “We can use this as a model for how we do this kind of work. This is really special, and you should be proud of yourselves.”
As White announced, “Let’s move this fence!” Josh Polan became the first cyclist to cross the completed trail.
Over two miles from Caldwell, the Harper/Hopper Road end of the construction now features a new parking lot for trail users with a dozen parking spaces and handicapped parking. Construction continues on the pump station at that end, and once completed, the number of parking spaces will double.
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