Carter County Commission sends Tweetsie Trail contract back to committee for changes

Published 2:20 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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By Robert Sorrell

Planning for the Tweetsie Trail Extension has been delayed after the Carter County Commission decided to send the contract back to the Financial Management Committee.

Commissioners met Monday night for their June meeting and discussed the details regarding a contract with landscape management services.

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The commission previously approved a grant from the state for $6.3 million for the Tweetsie Trail Extension and the Hampton Watershed project. The commission had planned to use interest on the grant to pay for the master plan.

During discussions Monday, Carter County Attorney Josh Hardin said he suggested some changes to the contract, but there were “no major changes.”

Multiple commissioners asked questions about the funding, contract and other matters regarding the project.

Financial Management Committee Chairman Brad Johnson, who had made the original motion to approve the contract, then decided to rescind the motion. He suggested the contract, which involves the companies Ross/Fowler and Thompson and Litton, go back to the Financial Management Committee for further attention to the details. The committee will coordinate with the county attorney and the two companies to make changes to the contract.

“I want it right,” Johnson said. “I don’t want it half-way.”

The master plan will determine the future of the trail, which currently terminates near Snap-on Tools in Elizabethton. The plan is to extend the trail to Hampton and will include a tunnel and bridge along the former East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad.

The Tweetsie Trail is a rails-to-trails project that follows the path of the ET and WNC right-of-way between Johnson City and Elizabethton. Locals often called the railroad the “Tweetsie” due to the sound of its steam whistles.

The commission is expected to take up the contract again in July.

Commission Chairwoman Ginger Holdren asked the committee to make sure the contract is fully ready for consideration before bringing it back to the commission.