The third time was the charm.
After applying twice and being turned down for a North Carolina Department of Transportation grant to plan sidewalk improvements, Wendell officials learned recently they will receive $32,000 in the form of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant. Wendell was one of only 10 towns across the state to be approved for the grant and the only Wake County town among the list of winners.
Likely in part because of Wendell Falls, this year the town received the $32,000 grant that will assist them in developing a strategy for expanding local pedestrian opportunities.
The town will contribute 20 percent, or $6,400 to the cost of the master plan.
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Planning Director David Bergmark said the plan will cover the entire jurisdiction and examine the “existing pedestrian system and identify gaps, obstacles, future extensions and sidewalks” in terms of vital corridors or priority projects.
He also said that with development in Wendell Falls underway, the plan will include a strategy for pedestrian connections in that area.
“The timing of this (grant) is good,” he said.
In addition to discovering needs and identifying quick solutions, having a plan will help the town in applying for more grants to fund upcoming projects.
Currently, the town has little sense of where important pedestrian gaps exist, and if so, whether the hole was intentional due to its expense or if there was another reason, Bergmark added. The master plan will assist with answering those questions.
Twenty-six applicants from around the state applied to the 12-year-old program and were judged by an awards committee for a grant that caters to both pedestrian and bicycle projects.
The planning grant initiative is jointly sponsored by the NCDOT’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and the Transportation Planning Branch.
Approximately $4,332,000 in grants have been awarded to 164 communities to date.
Plans funded are not for one specific project, but represent a comprehensive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities within a given municipality. These plans address facilities, programs, services and regulations that encourage safe walking and bicycling.