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Pouring rain, hail, American Tobacco Trail out to bid: all signs Harold Camping was one week off on rapture pick

The pouring, dousing, heavy rain outside with hail bits flying, and flooding on local roads like University Dr., Alston Ave. and the like?

By itself, nothing to worry about. An isolated moment of nature's fury, nothing more.

Add to that breaking news today that the American Tobacco Trail's Phase E is going out to bid on Tuesday, May 31?

Truly, taking this news in toto: a sign of the apocalypse!

Yes, the long, long, long delayed "missing link" in the ATT -- which will connect from the trail's current end at NC 54 down to I-40, cross I-40 at the Streets of Southpoint Mall with a pedestrian bridge, and then provide a smooth surface to the Durham-Chatham Co. line, joining up eventually with regional trails all the way to Cary and Raleigh -- is moving forward after nearly a decade's time has passed since the first segment opened.

The initial American Tobacco Trail segment through Durham was the first part of the rail-trail project to be built; now, as Wake and Chatham have moved forward, Durham's final segment will be one of the last.

The move comes after the completion of a number of environmental permit reviews.

Technically, the project is expected to be let for bid on May 31. A pre-bid meeting with contractors follows, with the City opening bids at the end of June. NCDOT will then review the bid -- one of the priciest segment of the work, after all, is the pedestrian bridge crossing the Interstate -- before construction gets underway this fall.

The project is set to be complete sometime in 2012 -- just in time, naturally, for the Mayan apocalypse.

It's great news that the project is moving forward, and kudos to the City and other governmental entities for helping to move the ATT onward to completion.

Even if it's a project that you thought would only get done when pigs fly.

Hey, wait. Today's the day that Durham officials auctioned off some pigs... pigs that flew off the back of a truck on I-540, and who today are "flying" down to a Florida animal rights activist.

Well, I guess it did happen when pigs flew, huh?


Bob the Builder

Thanks for the tip, Kevin- this is great news! Interesting that the city's page for the project doesn't mention Jeff Lecky as project engineer.. it's now Byron Brady??

Angel Romero

This is excellent news. I'm really looking forward to exploring the area south of I-40.




I hope the city can fix the drainage problem they have at the Nana's/Q-Shack complex. Yesterday was awful, especially so soon after the last time a couple of weeks ago.

John Davis

This is a huge waste of money. I bet the cost per user will be in the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. In the mean time the Citys roads continue to be a patch work of repairs that a kid could do.

Mark Critzer

I've been looking forward to the completion of the AT trail, not just as a frequent user, but for the sake of regional cooperation in finally linking up with Wake county portion. I don't do a lot of biking on the roads anymore. Commuting back and forth to work is out of the question where I live, so the AT is a real asset on the weekends.

John: This is not a waste of money. There are significant riders on the trail and removing two dead ends at Southpoint makes it even more of an opportunity for Wake residents to venture north into Durham past the mall.

The AT trail is one of those public works that are open to just about anyone, and score well on the cost/benefit analysis. I can't imagine much more than a crew on a couple of Bobcats, plus some volunteers, is needed to keep it in shape.

I've been to a lot of places where the city roads are in far worse shape than Durham. That doesn't mean Durham's potholes get fixed 100% at any one point in time to the exclusion of all else that make this a nice place to live. It's a balance even in tough economic times.

Dale McKeel

@ Bob the Builder -- Jeff Lecky was the design engineer for the project. Now that the design is complete, the project moves to Byron Brady, another city engineer, who will oversee the bidding process and construction management.

Charles Becker

I wish John Davis weren't right (well...the thousands of dollars per user is an overestimate) because I personally will get some enjoyment from the extension, but I'm almost sure he is correct. Even from the money were dedicated to cyclists' needs and not to many other needy uses (including repaving, which definitely helps cyclists, too), a bridge across I-40 is less important than bike lanes along 54 toward Cary or Old Durham or Erwin Roads to Chapel Hill.

Michael Bacon

Okay, fine, we'll cut up John Davis' nonsense AGAIN.

Based on my experiences at that end of the trail, which is easily one of the most heavily used stretches, I'd say it's a very conservative estimate to say that 250 people will cross the bridge on every pleasant weekend day, and let's say there's 75 of those a year. Let's also throw in at least 50 people using the bridge on nice weekdays, also extremely conservative given the congestion on that stretch of the ATT, and let's say there's 125 of those a year. A very conservative estimate of 25k daily person uses per year.

If that keeps up over 30 year period, the cost per daily person uses is around $7. "thousands of dollars" indeed.

Where do we find these people?

Dale McKeel

On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, City staff did a count on the American Tobacco Trail at its intersection with Cook Road (near Southwest Elementary). During a 12-hour period from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, a total of 291 bicyclists and 342 pedestrians were counted. The pedestrian total included 26 strollers and 13 skaters on rollerblades. There were also 32 dogs counted.


Let me just add that the benefits of bike/Ped projects like the I-40 bridge connecting two piece of the ATT have manifold benefits which cannot be captured by simply counting the users. See for a discussion suggestiing that the returns are 10 to 1. Similarly the costs of road projects are sometimes minimized by looking only at the number of cars and therefore ignoring air pollution, storm water runnoffl and the other sprawl effects they produce.

We as a region need to understand these broader impacts in order to fairly evaluate and select the proper mix of investments of our transportation dollars as we grow the transportation infrastructure in this area in anticipation of another 2 million inhabitants over the next decade or so.

Glen P Stewart

I love the ATT! But is doesn't matter. Even if the cost per user is an acceptable number, and we ALL love it, we don't have the money. The CBO released a report yesterday (June 22, 2011) in which they point out that our federal debt will overtake the size of the entire U.S. economy this year!

This is a very serious problem that Durham can't ignore. Many will keep their head in the sand over this, but ignoring it won't reduce the serious consquences that are coming. We don't have the money, and we can't just keep borrowing and borrowing. Even for things we love like the ATT.

Erik Landfried

We can afford it if we, as citizens, are willing to pay for it. I am.

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