CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston officials soon will select a firm to design a two-lane bicycle trail to be built along Kanawha Boulevard on the West Side.
Members of a steering committee working on the project interviewed four Kanawha County-based firms interested in designing the project Thursday, City Manager David Molgaard said.
The members of the committee reviewed the qualifications for firms that had been included on a short list of prospective designers.
"We're working to determine what firm would be best suited to design this project for us," he said.
City leaders received permission from the state Division of Highways to use money originally set aside to rehabilitate an aging train trestle across the Kanawha River for use by bicyclists and pedestrians.
The $1.7 million Congressional earmark did not cover the costs associated with rehabilitating the trestle, a project that's been estimated to cost around $20 million.
The city also may use about $700,000 secured by U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
"We hope to identify a firm to design the bike trail by sometime next week," Molgaard said.
The city still will have to advertise for bids for construction of the path.
"I would be really surprised if we see any construction start before next summer or fall," Molgaard said.
Although the funds originally allocated to the trestle rehabilitation will be used for the bike trail, some city leaders still hope to convert the span across the Kanawha into an avenue for bikes.
Councilman Tom Lane, an at-large Republican, has been a staunch supporter of the train trestle project for some time. He said he understands the city cannot afford to convert it into a bike bridge at this time.
"But I do not consider the train trestle project dead," Lane said.
Instead, Lane prefers to look at the Kanawha Boulevard bike path as part of the overall master plan to create more bike paths throughout the city. This plan would eventually include rehabilitation of the more than 100-year-old trestle.