The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Thursday night to execute an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for connecting the city’s two greenways.
A $2.2 million grant from the DOT was approved last year to link the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways, which are heavily used by the public for walking, cycling and jogging.
The plan calls for the construction of an asphalt trail that is 2.2 miles long and 10 feet wide which would provide pedestrian and biking access while also restoring the two waterways. The connector is known as Phase II of a project to restore the Ararat River.
It is to run from the southern end of the Emily B. Taylor Greenway at Worth Street downstream along Lovills Street to its confluence with the Ararat River, according to city government documents. It then will proceed upstream along the Ararat River and end at Tharrington Park at the southern end of the city’s east greenway.
Since the cost of the greenway connection is expected to exceed $4 million, the city commissioners voted 4-1 last September to commit $430,000 in municipal funding to the project over a four-year period.
That expense raised some objections among local citizens, along with fears that the greenway connector promotes a system of “sustainable development” to force people to walk and ride bicycles and limit their overall transportation choices.
However, the prevailing opinion among the commissioners and city staff members was that the greenways have proven beneficial to the public and if Mount Airy didn’t accept the DOT funding, some other community would.
In addition to the city and state allocations, municipal officials have contracted with a non-profit group to seek grants to cover additional costs of the greenway connection.
Those actions have led up to a city board vote on a formal agreement with the DOT for the connector, which will occur during its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Under the pact, the local government is to complete pre-construction activities such as rights of way certification and preparation of an environmental document by Sept. 30, 2013.
If Mount Airy decides to terminate the project without the concurrence of the N.C. Department of Transportation, the municipality must reimburse the state agency 100 percent of all costs it has expended for the connector, under the agreement’s wording.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.