“It will have decking to accommodate their construction equipment, and when they’re done, the permanent bridge will go in,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the Canal Authority’s executive director.
The $1.2 million project, which began with land clearing earlier this year, will have about 1,800 feet of concrete trail behind both Sibley and King mills, with bridges to breach the tailrace areas that flow into the river. The work is scheduled to be complete in late July.
So far, about half of the new trail has been cleared and workers are preparing footings for the temporary bridge over the Sibley tailrace.
Although the access route was widened to accommodate construction equipment, Sherrouse said the boundary stakes were adjusted whenever possible to leave some of the larger trees intact.
The bridges on the new trail will be very different. A prefabricated Steadfast bridge will be placed at the Sibley tailrace, while a suspension bridge will cross the wider King Mill tailrace.
Both bridges will offer new vistas of the river and back gates of the historic mills.
The trail spur was initially designed to allow cyclists to veer off the canal towpath near the aqueduct at Rae’s Creek, cross under River Watch Parkway and emerge downtown near Waters Edge subdivision.
Because of some unresolved engineering obstacles and funding limitations, the trail will end short of Waters Edge for now and include a widened turnaround area.
Sherrouse said the canal authority hopes to eventually complete the original route and will continue to seek grants whenever they become available.
“The next time the Department of Transportation announces a Transportation Enhancement Act grant, we will, of course, put in for that,” he said.
Massana Construction, of Tyrone, Ga., was chosen to manage the project.