When the project is complete in July 2013, the southern and northern halves of the trail will be linked all the way from Apex to downtown Durham.
"The American Tobacco Trail spans 22 miles across three counties and this project will complete the missing links of this important transportation corridor as well as improve users' access and connectivity," said Ed Venable, contracting manager with the City's Public Works Department. "In order to get this project done as quickly, efficiently, and economically as possible, we must close the entire portion of the trail."
Officials said they will close a portion of the trail from the Chatham County line in southern Durham all the way to Renaissance Parkway to do the work. In addition to the new cycling and pedestrian bridge over the interstate, the project includes paving a 10-foot wide asphalt path on 2.8 miles of existing trail and building 1.4 miles of new trail.
Completion of the I-40 bridge has been stalled for years. Durham was first to finish a section of the American Tobacco Trail in the late 1990s, with the stretch that runs from downtown all the way to NC54 and Fayetteville Road. Then, the southernmost gravel section was finished in Wake County before Chatham County completed its section in late 2009 with a multi-use trail that's half paved and half gravel for horses, bikers, and pedestrians.
In Durham, disagreements over the bridge design were finally resolved in 2009, but construction was postponed when bids for construction came in at higher than expected.
In April, the city got final approval from the NC DOT for a $7.5 million contract to build the bridge. The total cost of the bridge and accompanying trails is expected to come in at over $9.5 million.