City wants state to expedite walkway permit

Published 4:33 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

By Staff
Piggybacking pilings installation with DOT’s project may save money
Contributing Editor
Washington officials want the state to expedite a permit allowing the city to build a walkway under the N.C. Highway 32 bridge at Havens Garden.
The city made the request to the Division of Coastal Management.
Expediting the permit process will cost the city $2,000, according to Phil Mobley, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Mobley is working with DOT and state environmental officials on the walkway project that would commence after the current bride is replaced.
The city and N.C. Department of Transportation continue to work on a strategy that would allow the city to drive some pilings for that walkway when DOT’s contractor installs pilings for the new bridge, City Manager James C. Smith said on Tuesday.
She’s particularly pleased that the DOT will allow the city to sink some pilings for its walkway when it installs pilings for the new bridge. Getting the same contractor, if possible, to do both jobs “should get us a better price,” she said.
Mobley, DOT representatives and Bill Foreman, the engineer helping the city develop its walkway project, met recently to review the project and determined it could proceed without the driving of walkway pilings hampering the bridge project, Smith said.
Telephone calls to the N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s office in Washington seeking comment on the city’s permit request were not returned Tuesday.
City officials learned the walkway will be shorter than 350 feet, its initial planned length. At the City Council meeting last week, Mobley said the walkway will feature observation and fishing areas.
The state wants the walkway high enough out of the water so that wakes from passing boats and high water after heavy rains don’t pose safety hazards to the walkway or people using it, Mobley added.
The walkway would connect parts of Havens Garden that are separated by the highway, allowing pedestrians to move between those areas without crossing the highway. The walkway also would connect boat ramps north of the highway to sections of Havens Garden south of the highway.
The walkway is part of an overall plan to improve and reconfigure Havens Garden after the new bridge is built. Those proposed improvements include upgrading the boat ramp and a parking area north of the existing highway.