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Input solicited for bicycle/pedestrian plan

November 7, 2018

The Regional Intergovernmental Council is continuing to develop a plan to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities for Kanawha and Putnam counties — and public input remains a vital component to bring the plan to fruition in coming months.

The plan’s purpose is to serve as a guide to communities for enhancing bicycle and pedestrian access and providing more mobility choices, as well as improving public safety in towns and cities throughout the two counties.

Public meetings, to address these and other issues, will be held at the West Virginia State University Educational Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd., W., on Charleston’s West Side and at the Putnam County Library, 4219 W.Va. 34, Hurricane concurrently - from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8, to review the recommendations to enhance and expand bicycle and walking facilities.

The meetings will have an open house format to explain and extrapolate about the bicycle/pedestrian plan. Community feedback will be solicited.

The simultaneous open house gatherings are a follow-up to earlier public forums, such as those held in April at the Putnam County Library and the WVSU Educational Development Center.

At that event, topographical maps were placed throughout the meeting room for individuals to mark areas where they believed biking and walking trails could be added or enhanced.

RIC Planning Director Kara Greathouse oversees the bicycle/pedestrian plan development.

“It seems like, for Putnam County, the needs and wants are for more recreational bike trails, she said at the spring meeting. “There are a few areas where there are some sidewalk deficiencies we hope to focus on in the future, too.”

Greathouse said Buffalo and Eleanor have expressed especial interest in developing more recreational trails in their areas.

Matt Selhorst of Columbus, Ohio-based HDR Engineering is the project manager for the RIC plan. He said the bicycle/recreational plan began formation in January.

“We wanted a way for the public to weigh in and provide us with input,” Selhorst said in an April Putnam Review article. “We’re saying, ‘Give us your ideas’ and we’ll take those ideas back, we’ll vet em out and see which ones are feasible and which ones aren’t. As we move forward with the feasible alternatives, we’ll prioritize those and put some cost estimates to them. We’ll come back to the elected officials and say, ‘This is our recommendation.’”

The open houses will enable citizens to comment on the recommendations that have been developed over the summer, prior to the finalization of the plan, he said.

Selhorst said some of the key points citizens have recommended include greater safety efforts for bicyclists and walkers, more downtown connections and installation of more bicycle racks.

The RIC plan has seven goal components:

n To increase bicycle and pedestrian connectivity between population centers and educational institutions, public recreational areas and retail and entertainment centers in Putnam and Kanawha counties

n Improve safety and user comfort levels on existing and future bicycle and pedestrian facilities

n Increase public awareness of pedestrian and bicycle facility locations in each county

n Promote the adoption and implementation of RIC Complete Streets concepts within each community

n Incorporate bicycle and pedestrian improvements into the transportation network and development projects

n Institutionalize bicycle and walking friendliness as a core value of county and municipal projects, policies and programs.

n Promote education of bicycle safety among both motorized and non-motorized users in the two counties.

In April and May, potential future bike lane/route opportunities were examined. Evaluations of alternatives were considered in June through August. From August through September, RIC officials incorporated stakeholder and public feedback. A final plan for the RIC bicycle/pedestrian plan is scheduled for submission in December.

Greathouse said some preliminary cost estimates for the plan were drawn up over the summer and will be incorporated into the plan as it progresses.

For additional information regarding the Nov. 8 meeting or the overall project, contact RIC Transportation Planning Director Kara Greathouse at kgreathouse@wvregion3.org

Metro reporter Clint Thomas can be reached at cthomas@cnpapers.com or by calling 304-348-1232.

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