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Carolina Beach To Hold Workshop For Alternate Clarendon Avenue Streetscape Project Options

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach will hold a workshop on March 18, 2014 from 4:00pm - 6:00pm at Town Hall in the Town Council meeting room. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss the streetscape design options along Clarendon Ave.
The Town Council got input from residents at their February 11th, meeting regarding a proposal to install 10' wide multi-use asphalt paths along Clarendon Avenue and Cape Fear Blvd as part of the streetscape project.
The Council voted to move forward with obtaining financing approval from the state and awarding a bid for the project to State Utility Contractors for $6,062,600.00. That includes replacing aging water and sewer lines and the streetscape project.
The Council left the door open to make changes to the project on aspects such as a multi-use paths before finalizing it later this year.
Following replacement of aging underground water and sewer lines the Town plans to repave Cape Fear Blvd. From Canal Drive to 3rd Street on Cape Fear there will 10-foot wide sidewalks along either side of the road next to public parking. From 3rd Street to Dow Road on Cape Fear Blvd there will be a 10-foot wide asphalt multi-use path on the south side separated from the road by a 5 foot grass area, trees and additional lighting.
On Clarendon Avenue there will be a 10-foot multi-use asphalt path on the south side of the road from 4th Street to 6th Street. The path will switch to the north side of Clarendon Avenue from 6th Street to Dow Road because existing poles and landscaping are too close to the road and would cost to much to relocate. Also, Mike Chappel Park would increase costs if the path were located on the same side of the road and the park is located on Federal land.
On 5th Street from Clarendon north to Cape Fear Blvd, a new 5 foot wide sidewalk will be installed separated from the road by a small grass area.
The plan is part of a Town wide bike and pedestrian route to connect areas of Town such as the School, State Park, Downtown area and others. The plan also interconnects with a route south to Kure Beach.
According to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, the Town has held four informal workshops to give the public opportunities to express concern about the upcoming infrastructure/streetscape upgrades planned for Cape Fear, Clarendon, and 5th Street.
Parvin explained in January, "Planning for the streetscape was a vetted process that started with the development of the town’s 2011 Bicycle Multi-use Plan.  Implementation has become possible with the need to replace infrastructure in the oldest residential part of Carolina Beach."
The estimated costs for the streetscape project are:
Cape Fear Blvd & Lake Park Intersection: $64,000
Cape Fear Blvd:
- 10' walkways from Canal to 3rd: $330,000
- Multi-use path from 3rd to 6th: $150,000
- Actual street: $570,000
Total for Cape Fear Blvd: $1,050,000
Clarendon Ave from 4th Street to Dow Road:
- Multi-use path: $250,000
- Actual street: $335,000
Total: $585,000
Parvin said the path on Clarendon would connect to a planned future extension of a multi-use path along Dow Road south to Kure Beach as part of the 2011 Bicycle Multi-use plan. The eastern end the path has several destinations to include the school, Carolina Beach Lake, downtown, and the ocean.
Parvin explained the path crosses Clarendon at 6th Street because properties west of 6th street on the south side of Clarendon have power poles, ditching and landscaping located in close vicinity to the street. In order to avoid excessive costs associated with moving these features the path was relocated to the north side of the street from 6th to Dow Road. To alleviate safety concerns and create traffic calming in this area a striped/elevated crosswalk will be located on Clarendon where the path crosses to the north side of the street.
Parvin explained the project will not be paid for with grant funding. The Town will finance the project by obtaining a loan and look for future grant opportunities.
Parvin explained, "Existing driveways will be “saw cut” to install the new utilities and multi-use path. Once above and underground infrastructure is in place the driveway will be replaced from the road to the multi-use path with concrete.  The portion of the driveway from the multi-use path towards the property line will also be replaced with the same materials as the existing driveway."
He said the project will possibly remove trees in residents’ yards explaining, "We have conducted several workshops... so the neighbors can address concerns with staff.  In some instances your tree may be able to be saved by moving or rerouting the path around the tree.  In some instances the trees will have to be removed. Each tree can be reviewed on a case by case basis."
Parvin explained the paths will be asphalt and using concrete would add an additional $2 per square foot for "approximately $50,000 more, or $300,000."
The Council held a public hearing and discussed the project at their February 11th meeting for over an hour and a half. Numerous residents spoke on the project.
Steve Stanton has served for seven years on the Citizens Advisory Committee with the Wilmington Metropolitan Transportation Organization (WMPO) and in a prior survey 65% of people were interested in using their bikes or walking for recreation, exercise or running errands. He said, "The one thing that did become apparent though is that they also indicated the impediment for not being able to achieve that was the lack of safe passage ways they could use to do that traveling on. Multi-use trails have become very common throughout the country."
David Smith said, "I'm not against having places to ride bicycles but I am against wasting money at this time to be building them. If you drive up and down Atlanta Avenue which is one of the main roads that comes to our school, we no longer have pot holes on that road, we have wash tub holes at this time and getting worse."
He said, "We do not need to be spending money on bike lanes when our streets are this bad. If we do not have the funds available to maintain our traffic streets that we drive on to take our kids to school, go to the store, shopping, etc, then how are we going to have money to maintain this other stuff that ya'll are wanting to put in place. It does not make sense."
Council member Sarah Friede said traffic around the school is unsafe and she's had vehicles driving on sidewalks while she was walking with her child.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "In the last couple of years the discussion had revolved around safe routes to schools, the ideas of increasing safe transportation from Mike Chappel Park to the Lake" and the Carolina Beach Elementary School. He said, "When you mix kids into that traffic pattern with widened asphalt, it became problematic" and transportation experts said the Town needed a multi-use path in the Clarendon Avenue area. The Council voted unanimously to move forward with obtaining financing approval from the Local Government Commission and awarding a bid for the project to State Utility Contractors for $6,062,600.00. That includes replacing aging water and sewer lines and the streetscape project.
Council agreed to direct Town staff to look at alternatives for the Clarendon Avenue Streetscape and agreed they could make changes to that portion of the project later this year following additional workshop meetings to look at other options. The Council could reduce the amount of the project at a later date without having to obtain additional financing approval.
Mayor Dan Wilcox wanted to make sure there would be another vote to leave the streetscape  portion of the project as approved, not do it, or modify the plan.
New Design Options:
Ryan Hambleton - Manager of Civil Engineering  for Stewart Inc - presented alternate options to the Town on February 28th for the Clarendon Avenue portion of the streetscape design.
For the current Design (10’ wide trail w/ 8’ grass strip), estimated at a cost of $217,286, Hambleton explained, "This option is based on the current design and bid option.  This option provides a 10’ wide asphalt trail with an 8-ft wide grass verge or strip for separation between pedestrian / bicycles and vehicular traffic. The plan does not include any street trees and attempts to save as many existing champion trees as possible.  In addition the trail is designed to cut through all existing driveways and a new concrete driveway apron and 5’ extension will be provided at all existing lot entrances."
Option 1A and 1B at an estimated cost of $201,675 would provide an 8’ wide trail with a 3' to 5’ grass strip. This option reduces the width of the trail and grass strip. The smaller trail would allow for bicycle and pedestrian traffic with a minimal separation between the two and vehicular traffic.  The smaller trail would reduce capacity (passing a pedestrian or two on a bicycle would be more difficult).
Option 2:  (Bike lanes with 5’ sidewalk). This option, at an estimated cost of $349,496, separates the pedestrian and bicycle path with on-street bike lane and a separate sidewalk.  The total impact to the existing street yard(s) of the house lots is similar or slightly more than the current design.  
The Town will hold the next workshop on March 18, 2014 from 4:00pm - 6:00pm in the Town Council meeting room at Town Hall to get input from citizens.