By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - In March of 2016 the Town of Carolina Beach was awarded a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to develop a comprehensive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities throughout the Town.
The Town will hold the first of a series of public workshops on July 18th, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Carolina Beach Town Hall at 1121 North Lake Park Blvd.
According to Abby Lorenzo - Planning Technician for the Town - Carolina Beach, "Invites you to participate in a public workshop to discuss the pedestrian network and your experience walking within the Town. The public workshop will provide an opportunity to participate in the planning process, provide critical input on existing conditions - as well as future needs - hear from knowledgeable project staff, and gain general insight on the plan and the progress made thus far."
According to Jerry Haire - Project Manager for the Town - the process will take 12 to 18 months to develop the plan.
Haire explained, "The plan would provide a number of benefits, including a comprehensive town-wide survey of pedestrian facilities, a series of public input sessions and prioritization of facilities through public involvement."
Haire explained the grant is a matching program where the State pays 80% and the Town pays 20% of the project cost.
The estimated cost is $40,000, with NCDOT providing $32,000 and the Town providing $8,000.
NCDOT assigned a consultant to work with the Town in selecting a steering committee and to facilitate development of the plan. If the actual cost of developing the plan exceeds $40,000, the Town will be required to reimburse NCDOT for the difference. If the process costs less than $40,000, NCDOT will reimburse the Town.
A group of eight municipalities and one county from across the state are receiving assistance with bicycle and pedestrian planning, thanks to grants awarded in 2016 by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Now in its thirteenth year, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant program helps North Carolina communities develop a comprehensive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities within a given community. Recipients were selected from a pool of 17 applications by an awards committee comprised of transportation planners from across the state, including representatives of regional planning organizations and councils of government, local governments and NCDOT staff from multiple units.
Recipients this year include:
• Carolina Beach (pedestrian plan)
• Carthage (joint bicycle/pedestrian plan)
• Cramerton (bicycle plan)
• Currituck County (pedestrian plan)
• Fayetteville (pedestrian plan)
• Flat Rock (joint bicycle/pedestrian plan)
• Laurel Park (joint bicycle/pedestrian plan)
• Newton (pedestrian plan)
• Spindale (joint bicycle/pedestrian plan)
The planning grant initiative is jointly sponsored by the NCDOT Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and the Transportation Planning Branch. As of 2016, over $4 million has been awarded to 173 communities through the planning grant program.
Plans funded are not for one specific project, but represent a comprehensive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities within a given municipality. These plans address facilities, programs, services and regulations that encourage safe walking and bicycling.
The Town established the project steering committee consisting of local citizenry. A primary local contact serves as the liaison between the locality, consultant and NCDOT. The committee will give principal direction to ensure the plan captures what the community desires. The Town has been working on expanding bike and pedestrian paths throughout Town. Currently the Town is preparing to construct an Island Greenway on U.S. Military land connecting the areas of Mike Chappel Park on Dow Road and Alabama Avenue at the southern end of Town. They are also preparing to complete a multi-use bike and pedestrian path on Cape Fear Blvd and have plans to install a path along Harper Avenue.
Both of those projects have been delayed for several years due to varying issues obtaining final plan approvals from NCDOT.