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Request made to leave gravel road by new bridge
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McMinnville officials are considering new access into a river that would be for canoes only.
Under consideration is an area located beside Ernest Crouch Memorial Bridge over Big Hickory Creek on Morrison Street. The bridge is currently being replaced by TDOT and completion is scheduled for this July.
The area would be suitable for canoe access only, says Greenway Council chairman Wallace Bigbee, whom the city has asked for assistance in gathering information.
“The area would not be suitable for large water craft,” he said. “About 100 yards below the access site is the connection between Hickory Creek and Barren Fork River.”
From the river, canoeists would then have access to Riverfront Park with its picnic tables, extra parking, restroom facilities and boat ramp. Down from that park is the dam adjacent to Pepper Branch Park.
No boat ramp would be built at the canoe access point. A gravel parking area would be located by the roadway, with a gravel path that individuals could use to carry their canoes to the water.
To reduce the cost, Bigbee suggested city officials contact TDOT and ask if the graveled access placed by the contractor to construct the new bridge could remain.
The rush is on, if the gravel is to remain. TDOT contracts require contractors to restore the area to its original condition, which would remove the gravel from the river, restore the bank and remove its construction access once construction is over.
“The bridge is scheduled to be complete in July,” said Vice Mayor Everett Brock. “If we want to keep the road that’s already down there, TDOT will have to amend its contract.”
Also, the city would have to obtain an easement to the area or negotiate a lease agreement on the land with TDOT. Bigbee says the cost would be minimal.
“A lease request would have to go before a committee at TDOT,” he said. “It would be a 99-year lease and we think we can get it for $1 a year.”
Officials voted unanimously to request its legal counsel to ask TDOT for an easement to the area around the bridge. If granted, consideration will be made to request TDOT leave the gravel path placed for bridge construction.