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City takes steps to secure pedestrian grant

Mount Airy has taken a step to improve pedestrian safety — especially high-traffic areas in town — which involves an effort to dust off and modernize a plan completed in 2013.

This started with the city government applying in late May for a state grant to revamp that plan, which recently was approved.

The cost of the pedestrian plan update is estimated at $45,000. The grant requires a 20% local match, a sum of $9,000 that the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners approved at its last meeting on Oct. 21 along with officially accepting the grant.

Mount Airy was eligible for the funding offered through the N.C. Department of Transportation due to having an existing pedestrian and/or bicycle plan that is more than five years old, which still required a competitive process. It was available to municipalities and counties with populations under 50,000.

Pedestrian plans usually have a shelf life of about 10 years, according Martin Collins, the city’s community development director, which need to be revisited to address changing conditions.

The plan adopted in 2013 included recommendations for installing high-visibility crosswalks, special signals and other pedestrian-friendly amenities at key intersections, along with more sidewalks and other pedestrian-oriented facilities in Mount Airy.

These were determined with the help of local committees.

“I think the committees that were involved with that did a very good job,” Collins said Tuesday of their input as part of studies that produced the recommendations.

However, suggestions that were made have not been manifested into reality, such as providing some means for pedestrians to safely cross the intersection of U.S. 52 and U.S. 601 (Rockford Street).

“We still have some dangerous intersections,” Collins said Tuesday of the need to address these locations with the help of the updated plan. “Safety is always, I think, extremely important with a thing like this.”

Statistics show that 34 pedestrian-related crashes occurred in Mount Airy during a 12-year period ending within the last decade, claiming four lives.

The 2013 Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan was developed by Kimley-Horn and Associates of Charlotte at a cost of $31,500. It was among three consulting firms considered for the study.

Collins said Tuesday that the procedure for the plan update will include a division of the DOT which is involved with its pedestrian and biking initiative arranging for a company to work with the city.

A list of recommendations is expected to again result, which the community development director hopes will be prioritized by the commissioners in order to arrive at a manageable number that can be implemented.

Collins, who was credited for his efforts to secure the grant by Interim City Manager Darren Lewis at the recent commissioners meeting, is not sure when the updated plan will be completed.



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