Waynesville seeks input on pedestrian planWritten by Becky Johnson
A master plan for making Waynesville even more pedestrian friendly has been unveiled after a year in the making. The long-range plan lays out priorities for new sidewalks over the next 15 years.
“The basic rationale was to fill in small missing links on main roads first,” said Paul Benson, town planner. In later years, the plan calls for extending sidewalks into residential areas.
Topping the priority list is South Main Street. Despite a new Super Wal-Mart being built within walking distance of hundreds of homes, missing stretches of sidewalk inhibit pedestrians fromwalking to it, Benson said.
Other top priorities are along roads slated for a redesign anyway, which Benson described as the low-hanging fruit since the town can get state funding for sidewalks if they are built in conjunction with road construction. Otherwise, the town only has enough money to tackle 1,000 to 1,500 new feet of sidewalk a year, according to Public Works Director Fred Baker. Since funds are limited, it’s important to have a plan that lays out priorities, he said.
The town got a $20,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation to hire a consultant to create the pedestrian plan. A steering committee was appointed by the town to guide the process.
The town also held a public workshop, conducted surveys and solicited email comments to gather a spectrum of views. Nearly 100 members of the public shared their gripes and wish-list for areas needing pedestrian improvement.
“It gets the public involved in deciding which ones are most important and it gives the town a blueprint to follow when making decisions,” Benson said.
A public workshop on the plan will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, at town hall. The town wants to hear from the public about where they want to see sidewalks or what intersections and crossings they consider dangerous for pedestrians. The town will incorporate public comments into the final plan.
For more information, or to view a draft plan, please contact Paul Benson at 828.456.2004.