Nearly $1M in Federal Grant Funds Approved for Sidewalk From Main Street to Bass Lake

Published Monday, March 7, 2016 at 11:46 am
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A graphic rendition of what a portion of the sidewalk from downtown Blowing Rock to Bass Lake will look like.

By Jesse Wood

Last week, the N.C. Department of Transportation approved the Memorandum of Agreement between state agencies and the Town of Blowing Rock to fund more than 80 percent of the $1.22 million project to build a sidewalk from Main Street to Bass Lake.

The project is funded through the Federal Lands Access Program for $987,956, and the Town of Blowing Rock is responsible for matching funds of $232,044, according to a March 3 letter from NCDOT Transportation Program Management Director Jimmy Travis to Blowing Rock Manager Scott Fogleman.

In a memo to the Blowing Rock Town Council for its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, March 8, Fogleman said that this particular sidewalk project was initially planned to take place during the third series of bond phasing in 2020.

In 2014, town voters overwhelmingly approved $13 million worth of bonds for transportation, parks and recreation and water and sewer infrastructure. Earlier this year, the Blowing Rock Town Council passed a resolution required for the initial issuance of bond funds ($4.6 million) for primarily streetscape improvements.

“As a result of the approved grant funding, the Town will be saving a total of $994,832 in bond proceeds which may be allocated in the future towards another transportation related project. This change in timing does, however, result in the need for matching funds to be identified in the 2016 series bonds (our first issue),” Fogleman wrote in the memo to council.

Fogleman noted and recommended that sources for the matching funds could come from the remainder from bond closing costs and premium proceeds and from current paving allocation.

At Tuesday’s meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. (a little later than normal because of early voting taking place in the meeting room) in Town Hall on Main Street, the Blowing Rock Town Council will have the opportunity to review and approve the Federal Land Access Program grant agreement.

The scope of the project includes building a sidewalk from downtown at the intersection of U.S. 321/Main Street and following U.S. 221 along the north side of the road to the entrance of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and access to Bass Lake. The total length of the sidewalk project is approximately 3,000 feet.

“Much of the sidewalk will be constructed within the existing roadway shoulder. There will be some grading necessary to accommodate the sidewalk due to lack of shoulder and some retaining walls will be needed. A section of approximately 650 feet of sidewalk along the retaining structures will require pedestrian handrails that meet NCDOT specifications,” the project scope reads in the agreement. “There are three street intersections along the proposed stretch of sidewalk that will be designed with pedestrian crosswalks with stamped pavement to match the crosswalks along the Main Street streetscape downtown.”

Early last year, more than 1,000 people signed an online petition in support of the project.

See meeting agenda and packet for Tuesday, March 8, here.

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