While supporters of a Jefferson County Commission approved bike trail along a Duke Power easement have focused on the benefits of the trail, there has been little discussion about the potential costs associated with the project.
Jefferson County Commission officials and supporters of the project cite costs of $40,000 over two years, but do not address the potential costs associated with requirements outlined in the agreement with Duke Power.
Duke Power Agreement Shifts Costs to Jefferson County
A review by Tallahassee Reports of the agreement indicates that Jefferson County taxpayers could be responsible for costs that have not been publicly discussed.
The agreement requires Jefferson County to carry liability insurance. This is a notable issue due to the fact that landowners that back-up to the trail have voiced concerns about potential safety issues resulting from introducing bikers and hikers to an environment that is regularly used for hunting.
Also, Duke Energy is requiring that the company be added to the insurance policy.
From the agreement:
COUNTY acknowledges to be self-insured for General Liability and Automobile Liability with coverage limits of as set forth in Section 768.28, Florida Statutes.
DUKE ENERGY shall be named as an additional insured on all general liability policies.
COUNTY shall require all contractors performing work within DUKE ENERGY’s Property to procure and maintain workers’ compensation, commercial general liability, business auto liability and contractor’s pollution liability coverage. DUKE ENERGY shall be named as an additional insured on all general liability policies COUNTY will carry, and/or will cause all of its contractors to carry
The agreement also outlines parameters of the insurance to be purchased by Jefferson County. From the agreement:
Bodily Injury limits not less than $2,000,000 each person and $5,000,000 each occurrence and with Property Damage limits not less than $500,000 each occurrence and $1,000,000 aggregate.
The cost of the insurance to Jefferson County taxpayers has not been publicly discussed.
The agreement also requires specific capital improvements. From the agreement:
fencing and barriers to “be installed by COUNTY at its sole cost and expense per DUKE ENERGY specifications, with DUKE ENERGY locks, where the Trail heads connect with roads/streets as to prevent vehicular traffic.”
Also, the agreement requires Jefferson County to pay for any damage to the trail caused by Duke Energy. From the agreement:
“COUNTY agrees that it will repair, at its sole costs, any damage that DUKE ENERGY may cause to the Trail during DUKE ENERGY’s construction, operation and maintenance of its facilities.“
This provision could come into play if Duke Energy, at some time in the future, would need to expand their facilities into the trail area to meet the demands of customer growth.
Due to the request of two Jefferson County Commissioners, the bike trail project is scheduled to be addressed at the next Jefferson County Commission meeting on February 7th, 2019.