Rail trail construction estimated to cost about $600,000
Belfast — Construction of the city's rail trail that would stretch from the Penobscot McCrum property to Oak Hill Road, and includes a parking lot and restrooms, is estimated to cost around $600,000.
A breakdown of the costs provided by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB), the engineering firm hired by the city to design the rail trail, estimated the cost of removing the steel rail, ties and incidentals would be $158,000; grading and compacting the ballast would cost $17,610; earth fill in steep gullies would cost $2,000; culvert repairs would cost $4,500; spreading and compacting granular surface material would cost $40,500; spreading loam and seed on shoulders would cost $7,500; safety railing/fencing would cost $72,000; an information kiosk at Upper Bridge would cost $3,000; and signage would cost $2,000.
The proposed rail trail is about two miles long. The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $586,000 and $626,000, according to VHB.
During a meeting Tuesday, May 21, Councilor Mike Hurley questioned whether boulders could be used in place of the fencing, which VHB engineer Greg Bakos said he considered when designing plans for the trail. However, he said his concern with using boulders is that someone who is riding a bike who falls against the rocks could then fall over the boulders, whereas the fence would deflect a person's fall.
Bakos said the fence would last for about 15 years before its aesthetic qualities started to deteriorate due to weather exposure.
He said an additional split-rail fence would be installed at City Point to separate the trail from the working rail yard. Bakos said the idea of the fence is to act as a deterrent so people entering the City Point property from the trail will cross the rail in one location.
The labor costs for removing bolted, jointed rail costs $7,000 per track mile and the equipment costs of removing bolted, jointed rail strings costs $25,000 per track mile, according to VHB's estimates. The labor costs of removing other track materials is $8,000 per track mile while the equipment costs to remove other track materials is $9,000 per track mile.
About 6,920 ties will be removed at a cost of $8 per tie, according to VHB. City Manager Joseph Slocum asked what would happen to the ties and whether any of them could be salvaged. Bakos said the ties are in rough shape and would most likely be shipped to a plant where they would be burned to generate electricity. He explained that sorting through the ties to find ones that could be salvaged would be labor intensive.
The above items would cost a total of $307,110 with an additional $61,442, or 20 percent, for miscellaneous items and contingency. Also included in the cost estimates are a 6 percent contractor mobilization fee for $22,112; a survey for $7,500; engineering and construction inspection for $50,000; permitting for $30,000; and bridge improvements at a cost of $82,000.
With all of those costs factored in the project would cost a total of $560,144. However, the steel rail can be salvaged for $149,000, meaning the trail would cost $416,144, according to VHB's estimates.
Bakos said he calculated the value of the rail based on publicly bidding the project and scrapping the rail due to its condition, as opposed to reusing the material.
“I really don't know what the value would be to another railroad,” Bakos said of the rail.
Constructing a parking lot at City Point would cost about an additional $40,000. according to VHB. The bathrooms would cost about $45,000, according to the estimates, and the city would need to spend about $115,000 for land easements.
The city would purchase property from Brooks to construct the parking lot — up to 14 spaces — and share in the expenses of installing a well at City Point that would provide water to the restrooms.
Bakos said the next step in the process would be to take the feedback he heard from councilors and finalize his report.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.