The new I-40 Exit 111 Bridge will be pedestrian and bicycle friendly!
After the December 18, 2018 meeting organized by Representative Blackwell regarding regional trails and interstate bridges, partners in Burke County worked together to form a request to NC DOT that the Exit 111 Bridge (which is already being redesigned) include updates to make it safe for pedestrian and bike traffic. This was the first step in creating a connection from Valdese Lakeside Park to South Mountains State Park. Partners included: Town of Valdese, Town of Rutherford College, Foothills Conservancy of NC, Burke County, WPCOG, Friends of the Valdese Rec.
Since planning for the Exit 111 Bridge has already started, Town of Valdese Mayor Black sent a letter to NC DOT Secretary Trogdon on January 7 to alert him a more formal request from the partners was being prepared.
On January 23, Brian Horton, area MPO, arranged for NC DOT Division 13 Engineers to meet with FVR President Beth Heile after the area TAC/TCC meeting to learn more about the goal of the partners.
Supporting reasons to upgrade the bridge:
- Future trail connecting VLP to SMSP crossing at Exit 111
- Easier access to South Mountains State Park from I-40. Exit 111 could serve as a hub or welcome center to trails and parks.
- Pedestrian Plan WalkRCV – The plan recommends a connector between Valdese and Rutherford College using Lovelady Road (goes right by Valdese Lakeside Park). A loop from Valdese Lakeside Park across Exit 111 to South Mountains Area to Rutherford College (via Exit 113) and back to Valdese Lakeside Park could jump start the plan.
- The 2017 CEDS for our area completed by Western Piedmont Council of Governments includes the following strategy for Infrastructure – “Develop and expand the bike and pedestrian network in the region.”
The response came back from the Division 13 Engineers this week that the design for the bridge will be pedestrian and bicycle friendly and includes:
- 5’6” Sidewalks on both sides
- 14’ wide shared bicycle lanes (With the roundabout design on each side of the bridge, cyclists enter the flow of traffic and will continue to a shared bicycle lane on the bridge.)
This is exciting news for future regional trails in our area.
The following article was published on December 18, 2018 …..A meeting to discuss connecting Valdese Lakeside Park to South Mountains State Park and/or other regional trails took place at Valdese Town Hall. Representatives from NC DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Division, NC State Parks, FCNC, Town of Valdese and Friends of Valdese Rec and Representative Blackwell were present.
Representative Blackwell provided the objectives of the meeting:
1) As bridges over Interstate 40 are being redone – How do we make sure they are pedestrian/bike friendly to allow connections of parks?
2) With various groups interested in regional trails – How to we make sure they are working together in a productive manner?
The NCDOT representative reminded us of the Ecomonic Impact Study of Greenways.
Regarding the bridges – The first step is a letter to NC DOT requesting one bridge over I-40 be made pedestrian/bike friendly.
Regarding regional trails – Partners will meet with WPCOG to start a planning strategy around the areas of Valdese, Rutherford College, Hildebran, South Mountains State Park, Bakers Mountain, Jacob Fork River and Henry Fork River.