More hurdles for trail
New London city staff seeks deadline extension
By Robert Cloud
The city of New London may have overcome another hurdle in its efforts to expand the Newton Blackmour State Trail.
City Administrator Chad Hoerth informed the Parks and Recreation Committee at its June 7 meeting that the contractor may pull out of the rails-to-trails project.
An hour after the city council met on June 2 to authorize a memorandum of understanding with Watco, the company that owns the tracks, Hoerth opened an email from Radtke Contractors that said they felt they could not meet the October deadline.
“The contractor wants to push out the completion deadline to the end of November,” Hoerth said.
However, the city was unlikely to extend the contractor’s deadline.
A Community Block Development Grant is providing more than $800,000 for the project. To receive the federal money, the city must finish the project by the end of October.
Hoerth said there was a significant delay because the original owner, Canadian National, sold the tracks to Watco in February 2022.
The city was then required to renegotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the new owners.
The MOU sets safety and design guidelines for the trail and deals with issues such as a 6-foot-tall fence between the tracks and the trail.
“It delayed the city in awarding the construction contract to Radtke and allowing construction to begin,” Hoerth told the New London Press Star.
“Due to the timing of the transfer of rail ownership and time needed to negotiate with Watco on the project/MOU, that delayed construction and ultimately Radtke came back and stated they could not hit the construction timeline for the end of October as needed to be eligible for the grant reimbursement.
In an email on Thursday afternoon, June 9, Hoerth updated city council members and the mayor on the trail project.
Hoerth said the state had approved an extension of the construction deadline to Dec. 31.
“If the contractor agrees we’ll be sending in the official request in writing for the extension,” Hoerth said.