The Wilmington City Council approved an additional $180,000 for the construction of a walkway under the Heide Trask Bridge, completing the city’s cross-city trail and providing a crossing path for bikers and pedestrians across of Wrightsville Avenue.
However, before approving the ordinance by a 7-0 vote, a few members raised questions about why the project had now been pushed up to a total cost of more than $800,000.
The project was delayed after the contractor said that design deficiencies prevented the project completed under the current budget. Wilmington Director of Community Services Amy Beatty said that the contractor needed an additional $250,000 to complete the process, with the rest coming from unused funds allocated for the project.
The main thrust of the redesign is to address design deficiency due to horizontal force, like wind and tidal forces,” Beatty said, noting that the redesign was also needed to avoid AT&T conduits and address other environmental conditions.
Wilmington City Councilman Charles Rivenbark asked why the project was so expensive. He also questioned why the project would connect to Airlie Road, which doesn’t have a sidewalk.
“It just seems like going to spend almost a million dollars to get people over to Airlie Road and that’s more dangerous road than the road we got them off of,” Rivenbark said.
Beatty said that the project was needed to give pedestrians and bikers a safe way to cross over Wrightsville Avenue before crossing the drawbridge leading to Wrightsville Beach. Beatty also said that the city attorney was reviewing whether the design firm was responsible for any of the additional costs.