Street project still on hold

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The city of Elizabethton's Planning and Development office hopes city council members will make a decision on a resolution authorizing engineering services for a street project concomitant to the Northern Connector highway project.
   "It is a project that is very urgent and needs to be done," said David Ornduff, the city's director of Planning and Development.
   The council deferred the resolution at their November meeting.
   If the council approves the resolution, the city would enter into the contract with the Transportation Department.
   Under the resolution, the Department of Transportation agrees to furnish preliminary engineering services up to $125,000. The resolution authorizes the city to commit matching funds of 20 percent -- or $25,000 -- to finance the preliminary engineering services.
   The state would perform the engineering work and once the project was put out for bid, the city would share in the construction costs, said Ornduff.
   Engineering services would be the first step in reconstructing a .33-mile section of Lynn Avenue into a five-lane highway from the Elizabethton Connector to East G Street.
   "The street would be improved and widened, but the storm drain and sewer drain would be replaced and improved also," said Ornduff.
   He said the Northern Connector construction should progress in three phases. The Lynn Avenue extension would likely be done midway through the Connector project, Ornduff said.
   Eighty percent of the project would be funded through the state with federal transportation dollars. The appropriation would be deposited in the Local Government Investment Pool.
   The department projected costs for right-of-way acquisitions at $6.5 million with $1.6 million budgeted for preliminary engineering. Actual construction costs for the 3.9-mile Northern Connector are estimated at $18.5 million.
   The Northern Connector involves the construction of a four-lane highway from SR-67 (US-321) to SR-37 (US-19E) in Elizabethton. The typical section will include four traffic lanes and a continuous center turn lane.
   Construction on the project is not expected to begin until 2004, according to most recent estimates by TDOT officials.
   "They are starting the appraisal work now," said Ornduff. From there, you go to property acquisition then to bidding construction, which will probably take about 18 months."
   Right-of-way acquisitions will relocate 46 residences, eight businesses, and three non-profit organizations, including the existing Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, according to the TDOT study of the project.