Delayed Old Mountain Road sidewalk project getting closer to construction process
Town counting on N.C. DOT grant to help pay for project along busy road
BY DEBBIE PAGE
TROUTMAN — A proposed 3,460-foot sidewalk, stretching along Old Mountain Road from South Iredell High School to Main Street, may finally be getting closer to reality.
The town is working to cobble together federal, state, school system, and local funds to fund the project.
Town Planner Erica Martin said that the N.C. Department of Transportation division office seems to be close to approving the $480,000 project, after which Martin can set the bidding process in motion.
Martin stressed the great need for the sidewalks to provide safe walkways for the large number of student and resident pedestrians who walk through this busy area each week day.
A student was hit by another near South Iredell student several years ago, Martin said, so Iredell-Statesville Schools officials lent their support to the project in early 2015.
When first investigating grant possibilities from the Lake Norman Transportation Commission in 2008-09, town staff discovered that students had crossed dangerously in front of the Google van as it recorded the road for Google Earth, Martin added.
In January 2015, then-Mayor Elbert Richardson contacted an I-SS School Board member about needed funds to obtain the grant. Kenny Miller, assistant superintendent of facilities and planning, then investigated the sidewalk project.
Miller recommended and the school board approved funding up to $75,000, leaving the Town of Troutman to secure the $480,000.
The I-SS School Board then sent a Memorandum of Understanding to the Troutman Town Council, which also approved the partnership in February of last year.
Last April, the Town Council authorized attorney Gary Thomas to begin the eminent domain proceedings on nine properties along the sidewalk route whose owners had not signed easements with the town.
Since last spring, the project has been dormant. DOT design criteria and the detailed approval process has slowed progress on construction, which was originally planned for summer of 2015, according to Martin.
“Other setbacks occurred in acquiring the property easements for the sidewalks. Most homeowners were easy to work with, but the town had to use condemnation procedures to acquire rights across one property, causing more delay,” commented Martin.
The proposed Old Mountain Road walkway will be a 9-foot-wide asphalt surface, which “is easier to maintain than concrete and easier for strollers and on people’s knees,” explained Martin.
“Workers will design stamp asphalt sections crossing residential driveways to make their appearance more charming,” Martin said.
A crosswalk will connect the sidewalk to the Barium Seasons neighborhood. This new sidewalk segment will also connect to the Richardson Greenway with a crosswalk across Highway 21/Main Street to become part of the Troutman Loop of the Lake Norman Bicycle Route.
In anticipation of construction, the town has already removed trees on Old Mountain Road and also on the proposed southern section of the Richardson Greenway, which stretches from Troutman Elementary School (TES) to Jacob’s Woods.
“The Northern Long-Eared Bat mating spring season required trees to be removed this winter to avoid yet another year-long delay in construction,” Martin said.
Stumps will be removed throughout the spring and summer.
Once DOT approval occurs, “the bidding process will only take a few weeks,” said Martin. “After the bids are in, the Town Council will require 30-45 days to approve the winning bid. Construction should take somewhere between 60-90 days.”
Martin hopes the sidewalks will be in place for the start of the fall semester at South Iredell.
Other Sidewalk Projects
Troutman has another sidewalk project under way at the former Barium Springs Home for Children. In recognition of the organization’s 125 years of service, Children’s Hope Alliance and the town will complete a .25-mile loop connector to the Richardson Greenway, which is part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
Martin said the town is also putting together grant requests for the sidewalk gap in front of Food Lion and running to Barium Springs. In the same package, the town plans to ask for funds to complete the sidewalk from Main Street to I-SS’s CATS facility and also for the Richardson Greenway South section.
In the future, the town also hopes add a two-mile sidewalk corridor stretching from Main Street to Davaste Vineyards and on to Lake Norman State Park.