Hickory-based Mattern & Craig Engineers has been selected to design a 165-foot-long suspension pedestrian bridge to be built over Big Elkin Creek in northeastern Wilkes County.
The Wilkes County commissioners took this action at their April 6 meeting after two leaders of the Elkin Valley Trails Association presented Mattern & Craig as the choice of the EVTA bridge committee.
Bob Hillyer, in charge of trail development for the EVTA, said the bridge committee reviewed two proposals submitted after County Manager John Yates advertised for them in March.
Hillyer said Mattern and Craig has extensive experience with different types of bridges and came out ahead based on identified criteria.
Engineering work for the free-standing bridge will follow the design stage, he said, adding that it will meet state requirements.
The bridge will be built in the county’s 43-acre Carter Falls Park, off Pleasant Ridge Road and west of State Road. Dubbed the Bridge of Dreams by the EVTA, it will take the Mountains to Sea Trail to the west side of Big Elkin Creek and to Preacher Fields Road.
Hillyer said a location just below the lower of two sections of Carter Falls was chosen as the bridge site.
He said there is easy access on both sides of the creek there to limit impact on the land. He said this also addressed concerns about the impact on aesthetics of having a bridge just below the larger upper falls.
Dr. Bill Blackley, EVTA board chairman, appeared with Hillyer and said there are plans for building a 14- to 18-foot-long bridge nearby. He said this will be a Boy Scout service project.
The EVTA manages Carter Falls Park under a written agreement with county government.
County Attorney Tony Triplett said that under the agreement, the EVTA is overseeing construction of the bridge and is responsible for a $150,000 local match for a $150,000 grant the county received from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for building the bridge.
Commissioner Keith Elmore asked if the EVTA has raised all of the required matching funds.
Hillyer said the EVTA is confident it has the money needed but said more is being raised since the cost of the project is greater now than when first proposed two years ago.
EVTA fundraising efforts currently include giving ribbons in return for donation. Donors are supposed to write their dreams on the ribbons and attach them to the completed bridge.
Eddied Settle, chairman of the commissioners, asked about the status of a proposed section of the Overmountain Victory Trail between Elkin and North Wilkesboro.
Blackley said the EVTA secured letters from landowners agreeing to donate easements for all but five parcels needed for the portion of trail in Surry County, from Elkin to the Surry-Wilkes line.
Blackley said those landowners will be approached soon with letters of support from several nonprofit organizations. He said they include the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, Explore Elkin, Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution.
He said the goal is to have all of the signed easements needed for the Surry section within three months and then work with people in Wilkes to focus on the Wilkes portion.
“We already have several landowners along the Yadkin in Wilkes who are really in favor of it,” said Blackley, adding that it almost all is private property.
He said having a trail between Elkin and North Wilkesboro would be a big tourist attractor.