Making Mount Airy safer for pedestrians will be the goal of a public workshop Tuesday at Reeves Community Center from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Along with enhancing safety, officials are seeking to make Mount Airy “a better-connected city for walking” overall, according to an announcement for Tuesday’s workshop that is resulting from a $22,050 state grant awarded last year.
Mount Airy is developing a comprehensive master plan to aid the municipality in mapping out pedestrian-related facilities such as sidewalks on a long-term basis.
A study that will lead to the plan is being funded through the grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation, along with a $9,450 allocation by the city. Tuesday’s workshop is coming on the heels of Mount Airy officials awarding Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a Charlotte-based transportation consulting firm, a $31,500 contract in July to guide the study process.
Public input is expected to play a major role in shaping the master plan, which includes assessing present facilities and identifying others that are needed.
A committee of local residents also has been formed to identify a list of possible changes and needs, and citizens have been asked to complete a survey on pedestrian-related issues. At last report, nearly 300 people had responded to the survey request.
Tuesday’s public workshop will operate under an informal “drop-in” format under which citizens can come at any time during the allotted meeting period and supply input for the master plan. Those attending are asked to bring their ideas, stories and concerns surrounding pedestrian issues.
More information is available from the Mount Airy Planning Department at 786-3520.
Initial Priorities ID’d
The committee of about eight members has met about three times since late summer in an effort to devise a list of priorities that the consulting firm is expected to facilitate through its involvement.
Some glaring needs have been identified by the committee during its brainstorming sessions so far, according to Scott Kniskern, one of its members, who chairs the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Commission. “Members of the committee seem to have good ideas,” he said.
“Certainly that area around Reeves Community Center was a focal point,” Kniskern added of the group’s discussions to identify existing problems. Hazards face pedestrians crossing the busy South Renfro Street to reach the center from parking lots, and at least two people have been struck by vehicles in that area in recent years.
In addition to evaluating pedestrian safety at various intersections, another need has been identified in a part of town that has experienced tremendous growth in the last 20 years — except for sidewalks. That is the area along Rockford Street (US. 601), from the U.S. 52 intersection toward Dobson, where problems are posed to those walking to various locations in the business corridor.
“It is hard for people to get around to places such as Walmart,” Kniskern said of issues caused by the absence of adequate walkways. That is a special concern for visitors staying at the city’s three major hotels along that route, who sometimes walk to nearby restaurants and retail stores.
Kniskern said another preliminary goal relates to plans to link Mount Airy’s two greenways in the next four years, with the help of another grant from the state DOT. He indicated that the committee wants to help make the link a reality, given the impact it will have on pedestrian travel.
Many people use the existing greenway routes to access different locations, reflecting a trend of more fitness-consciousness today and efforts to promote community health through physical activity.
City officials have said that one goal of the long-range pedestrian plan is making walking a more-viable transportation option for local citizens, while also developing the infrastructural elements to encourage this.
Kniskern also is hoping more local residents will complete the surveys, which are expected to be available at Tuesday’s workshop.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.