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NCDOT awards four WNC communities funds for pedestrian-bicycle studies

The City of Asheville is among the NCDOT feasibility study grant winners. The city will study the expansion of the Swannanoa River Greenway
City of Asheville
The City of Asheville is among the NCDOT feasibility study grant winners. The city will study the expansion of the Swannanoa River Greenway

Asheville, Hendersonville, Burnsville and Jackson County are among the 25 North Carolina cities, towns and counties that have been awarded state funds to study the community’s need for sidewalks, paths and greenways to accommodate walkers, runners and cyclists.

The grants, totaling more than $2 million in funds, were approved by the North Carolina Board of Transportation — the group that establishes policies and priorities for NCDOT.

“We’re excited because this money will allow these communities to take the first step toward something that could have a lasting, positive impact,” state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said in a press release. “We know that bike and walking paths help connect communities and improve the quality of life for residents in immeasurable ways.”

NCDOT

In some cases, organizations applied on behalf of towns and counties – including Land of Sky Regional Council for Asheville. The city was awarded $72,000 to study the expansion of the Swannanoa River Greenway. The Southwestern Commission represented Jackson County, which will use the $67,000 in funds to study a sidewalk project along Fairview Road in Sylva. More information about the community grant winners is available on the Board of Transportation’s agenda.

The studies will enable communities to examine route alternatives, develop cost estimates, and advance projects to compete for additional funding for design and construction. Public input will play an important role in each study’s conclusions.

The types of projects to be considered include paths that can be shared by walkers, runners and cyclists, paved trails, greenways and sidewalks.

For more information, check out NCDOT’s web pagedevoted to the feasibility studies program.

Staff in NCDOT’s Integrated Mobility Division recommended the 25 communities for feasibility study grants, based on the applications submitted in January.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.