By Jesse Wood
Nov. 20, 2013. The Watauga County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the High Country Regional Bike Plan on Tuesday evening.
This plan is two years in the making, as the N.C. Department of Transportation reached out to the High Country Council of Governments (HCCG) about forming a steering committee to create a long-range bicycle plan that would safely connect municipalities within a seven-county region with a series of recommended improvements.
The members of the steering committee were appointed by the seven counties in the HCCG coverage area and by NCDOT staff. Eric Wooldridge, formerly of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, Daniel Klinedist, a cyclist, and Daniel Scagnelli of the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation department, represent Watauga County on the steering committee.
Also, more than 1,000 people filled out an online survey and 16 public workshops and cyclist meetings were held.
The plan calls for bicycle-facility improvements to be made whenever NCDOT undertakes highway improvements such as widening or resurfacing. Phillip Trew, the director of planning and development with the HCCG, noted that the NCDOT only spends “very little” on independent, bicycle-related projects.
The High Country Regional Bike Plan consists of two parts – the creation of a recreational route in each of the counties for tourism promotion and a list of specific, facility improvement recommendations that will connect the towns and other major destinations in the region, according to an executive summary of the plan.
The plan identifies needed improvements to existing roadways, prioritizes the improvements and also calls for the development of a signage plan to mark identified routes. A map of recommendations show here lists various improvements such as the width of a paved shoulder, which vary from two to six feet, or a bike lane or an off road paved path. In some sections, no improvement is listed on a path that has other recommendations.
See a complete list of specific road improvements here.