​Monteagle Owns RR Bridge; Approves MGT Grant

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Applause and cheers greeted the Monteagle Council’s vote calling for the mayor to sign a letter in support of the town’s application for a grant to extend the Mountain Goat Trail across I-24 via the old railroad bridge. Forty plus residents attended the Oct. 14 special called meeting.

Before the vote, Mountain Goat Trail Alliance Board President Nate Wilson addressed questions raised at the Sept. 30 meeting about who would maintain the bridge since ownership was unclear. Since that meeting, Wilson learned Monteagle acquired the bridge in a 1992 purchase along with the old railroad bed in the downtown area and a gas, water, and sewer easement from Sewanee to Tracy City.

At a subsequent meeting with city attorney Harvey Cameron, Cameron and Wilson agreed it would be in the town’s best interest for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to assume ownership of the bridge. An already approved TDOT grant project will extend the trail from Clifftops subdivision to the interstate. It was in TDOT’s interest to support a project providing safe passage across I-24, Wilson stressed.

For TDOT to assume ownership of the old railroad bridge, Monteagle would need to remove the lead paint and repaint it, Wilson said. He proposed paying for the expense by reducing the amount of the off-bridge trail provided for by the grant. Initially the budget called for the multi-modal path to continue beyond I-24, perhaps as far as Tower Bank.

The letter of support states Monteagle agrees to pay the five percent ($50,000) match required by the $1 million grant proposal and that other grant sources will provide the $50,000. A second letter accompanying the grant application states the MGTA will provide Monteagle with the $50,000 match.

At the September meeting, council representatives also expressed concerns about lacking operating capital to cash flow the fully funded 95 percent portion of the grant, even though the city would be reimbursed for expenses every 30 days. Addressing the concern, city recorder Debbie Taylor said, “If Monteagle receives the grant, we hope we can fit this in next year’s budget. We’ll make a new budget in July.”