BOONE — The planned Bamboo Road/Wilson’s Ridge Road widening project will include a multi-modal path for pedestrians and cyclists that is separated from the street along the Bamboo Road section of the project, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“We still have some stuff to go through before this is filed,” said NCDOT Division 11 Engineer Mike Pettyjohn. “We’re looking at one side of the road for bike and pedestrians with curb and gutter as a barrier.”
According to Pettyjohn, the 10-foot-wide path would would go down the west side of Bamboo Road from the Wilson’s Ridge Road intersection to the realigned intersection with U.S. 421. The path would not continue onto the newly-widened Wilson’s Ridge Road, Pettyjohn added.
The potential addition comes after public comment that started in February, when the project was unveiled to local leaders and the public. Pettyjohn said the multi-modal path proposal came from those public comments.
The potential multi-modal path could be the first of its kind in Watauga County, according to Dave Freireich, a member of the local pedestrian and cyclist safety advocacy nonprofit Harmony Lanes.
Freireich has pushed for multi-modal paths in Watauga, with a green area, curb and gutter between the paths and the road for increased safety, and calls the proposed Bamboo Road path the “East Boone Connector.”
“The East Boone Connector addition would be the first planned, engineered, safe multi-modal corridor in Watauga County, for the fastest growing part of the county,” Freireich said.
While the road widening would be fully funded by NCDOT, the multi-modal path would require a local match to construct.
“Local communities have an opportunity to get the East Boone Connector built for only 30 percent of the project cost; the NCDOT will pay the rest,” Friereich said.
Pettyjohn said the 30 percent number would be the maximum amount of a local match required and could be less. Since the project goes in and out of Boone town limits, both Watauga County and the town of Boone would have to financially contribute, Pettyjohn said.
The original project proposed in February included a four-foot shoulder and no sidewalks.
Currently, the project is part of the 2020-2029 Strategic Transportation Improvement Project that is set for final adoption in September.
The plan is to widen from 10-foot to 12-foot road lanes along the 1.9-mile stretch going from the intersection of U.S. 421 and Bamboo Road to Bamboo and Wilson Ridge Road and ending at Wilson Ridge and Deerfield Road.
“It’ll be a really good project, there’s a lot of traffic through there for safety and for mobility as we look through the multi-modal pathway,” Pettyjohn said.
Roundabouts are also planned at the intersections of Wilson Ridge and Deerfield, Wilson Ridge and Bamboo and Bamboo and Brook Hollow Road. The current 17-percent-plus grade incline on Wilson’s Ridge Road would be decreased to less than 12 percent, according to the original plans.
The Bamboo Road and U.S. 421 intersection would be realigned in the plans, which could be expanded to a four-way stop to incorporate the entrance to the planned town of Boone municipal services complex.
The estimated cost of the project was $9.5 million, not including right-of-way acquisition. The project was pushed back to start right-of-way acquisition after June 2020 with construction starting in the 2021 fiscal year, according to Pettyjohn. The construction would take at least three years, Pettyjohn said.