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May 4, 2014

Heritage Trails project has two bidders

DUNCAN — The long-anticipated Heritage Trails project, designed to connect some of Duncan’s major institutions west of U.S. Highway 81, has drawn the interest of two major engineering firms that want to submit bids.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Chris Deal said Garver Engineering and Triad Design Group, two large firms located outside Duncan, will have until May 22 to submit bids.

“They’ll tell us specifically how much it will cost to design and build,” said Deal. “Once that’s done, we can tell the public this is how much the trail is going to cost.”

Deal sent invitations to eight engineering firms. No local businesses responded, he said.

The trail project has been talked about for years.

The idea arose in 2007, Deal said.

In 2009, one of the chamber’s leadership classes picked it up to give it a push and two years later the City Council approved the concept.

Progress since then has been slow because it involved so many different institutions, Deal said.

“For a while it seemed like we were stalling out, but we’re at the stage now that we have some momentum,” he said.

The trail, built on public easements, would connect Whisenant Park, The Simmons Center, Duncan Regional Hospital, The  Chisolm Trail Heritage Center, Sanford Children’s Clinic and Horace Mann Elementary School.

Whisenant Park on Beech Avenue is a key component of the trail project.

There is lighting in the park already and its trail is just under a mile long.

“We have a very good start out there right now,” said Duncan City Manager Jim Frieda.

The Whisenant Park trail will need to be widened to include room for bicycles in order to fit in with the Heritage Trails concept.

“I don’t believe we’ll start this summer but I believe we’ll start this year,” Frieda said.

The city is seeking a $128,000 grant to help with the project.

The trail project has been touted for years as a needed addition to the “quality of life” assets that Duncan leaders want to improve.

Deal estimates the cost will fall between $750,000 and $1.2 million.

Most of that money will come from private donations, he said.

“A walkable community is something we should strive for,” Deal said. “I hope it catches on like wildfire.”

In time, the city’s master plan calls for a trail system to connect various community resources on the east side of U.S. Highway 81.

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