By Jesse Wood
May 20, 2014. Initially slated to close in April, a section of the Greenway Trail in Boone is now scheduled to close to the public on July 1.
The purpose of the closure is to “restore the riverbanks and habitat quality along the South Fork of the New River,” according to a release posted on the Town of Boone’s website. The project is also described as important for long-term health of the river, Greenway Trail and adjoining green space.
The stream bank restoration project is a collaboration between the Town of Boone, Appalachian State University, the National Committee for the New River, Army Corps of Engineers, F.E.M.A., N.C. Natural Resources Commission, N.C. State Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Boone Town Council approved a contract between the Town of Boone and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in October 2013, according to meeting minutes. At that October meeting, Jim Byrne, an assistant to the town manager, told the council that the agreement was originally approved in 2001. However because of the conflict in the Middle East, that funding was withdrawn.
The process of restoring 4,000 feet of the South Fork of the New River is expected to cost more than $2.65 million and will require $900,000 in local match, in-kind services and easements, according to meeting minutes from October 2013. At that same meeting, George Santucci of the National Committee for the New River told council that the funding would be secured from state and federal grants.
Interim Public Works Director Eric Gustaveson said the delays stemmed from the logistics of all the entities involved signing off on the project.
“It’s a big project. Anytime you get something that big, there’s bound to be something. Those things happen,” Gustaveson said.
Gustaveson said in addition to planting along the riverbanks, the project involves excavation work – sloping the banks, pulling sediment out of the waterway and placing structures in the stream to encourage water flow and channelization. In addition to plantings, stabilization of the stream banks will include matting and placing rocks along side the river. Gustaveson mentioned that project will include wetland features that will encourage water retention and prevent runoff from hitting the river. Trail relocation and trail resurfacing are part of the project, too.
When all is said and done, Gustaveson said the project will promote “healthy banks, a good healthy river and aquatic life in the river.”
The project, weather permitting, is expecting to be completed in September, Gustaveson said.
Because of the popularity of the Greenway, the Town of Boone wants to notify people to plan their events accordingly during the closure.
“The section of the Greenway Trail from the covered bridge to the second bridge on the main section of the Greenway Trail will be closed to the public. Additionally, the trail on the northeast side of the New River from Hunting Hills Lane to the covered bridge may be closed for construction traffic. Trail users will be detoured from the covered bridge along the sewer easement/road to the middle bridge,” the Town of Boone press release states.
For more information, reach Gustaveson at 828-268-6230 or [email protected]