Projects related to various forms of transportation — pedestrian, cycling and vehicular — will dominate a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners Thursday night.
In one item of business during the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, municipal officials will be updated on a greenway connector and river restoration project by Charles Anderson of the Resource Institute Inc.
Last year, the city government contracted with the Resource Institute, a non-profit group in Winston-Salem, to seek grants for connecting the Emily B. Taylor Greenway on the west side of town with the Ararat River Greenway to the east.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a $2.2 million grant for the project, which also will require $430,000 in city funds over the next four years. However, grants sought by the Resource Institute from various other sources also will be needed for the connector, officials have said.
Anderson’s appearance at Thursday night’s meeting will involve updating local officials on the progress made in that regard.
No “concrete” figures have been made available so far, City Manager Barbara Jones said Tuesday.
“But he is continuing to work hard on it,” Jones added of Anderson. “He continues to seek out grants.”
One factor cited by the city manager is the financial picture in Raleigh, and uncertainties regarding what money is available for which projects. That includes the state Clean Water Trust Fund that supplied assistance for the first phase of the Ararat River Greenway a few years ago.
“I think a lot of that has been pending on the state budget,” Jones said of such funding sources.
Last year’s awarding of the $2.2 million grant by the DOT produced some controversy, even among the city board, due to factors including the expense the greenway connector will require in local funding. However, the prevailing sentiment was that the state grant should be accepted and the connector built because of the recreational and transportation benefits offered.
It also was noted that if Mount Airy didn’t utilize the DOT funding, some other community would.
No specific timetable has been mentioned for the connector’s construction, which will depend on rights-of-way acquisition from private property owners in addition to more grant assistance.
Pedestrian Plan Contract
Also Thursday night, the city board will consider awarding a contract to a Charlotte-based firm to develop a comprehensive pedestrian plan for Mount Airy.
The city was tapped for a $22,050 grant by the N.C. Board of Transportation last year to fund the plan along with a $9,450 allocation by the municipality.
Board members will decide Thursday night whether the contract will be awarded to Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., which was among three firms considered for the study.
It will help the city map out pedestrian-infrastructure enhancements on a long-range basis.
Officials have said the plan is aimed at making walking a more viable transportation option for local citizens, while improving community health through increased physical activity.
They envision this being accomplished by providing connections to key destinations such as shopping areas, the library or movie theater using sidewalks, greenways and additional pedestrian routes, according to a resolution approved earlier by the commissioners.
Another matter to be considered at the meeting involves potential street work funded by the DOT at the city government’s request.
• Improvements to pedestrian-crossing areas at Reeves Community Center, between Cherry and East Pine streets;
• Work at a railway crossing at the Rockford Street-U.S. 52 intersection, where problems have been reported with a slick surface;
• Pedestrian-crossing improvements at the intersection of Independence Boulevard and North Main Street.
Those projects are envisioned as a result of $175,000 being made available in state funding last year for proposed safety improvements at the intersection of U.S. 601 and McKinney Road near the Interstate 74 interchange.
That money was never spent, leading city staff members to develop a list of other work that could be done with the money.
Thursday night’s action will involve whether to formally request the DOT’s financial support for the three projects identified.
Another transportation-related project on the meeting agenda involves a proposal to alter the four-lane sections of Renfro Street and Main Street from Lebanon Street to the Ararat River bridge.
The change would involve a new striping configuration that would result in one lane in either direction, with a center turn lane, for the entire street length.
Officials say the impetus for the change is the upcoming repaving of the portion of the roadway from Lebanon Street to Independence Boulevard by the DOT, since re-striping is best done after resurfacing work.
Improving safety would be the reason for eliminating one travel lane along the stretch in question, according to city government documents.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.