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Plan envisions pedestrian-friendly Currituck

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Shown here is a proposed improvement to the intersection of Caratoke Highway and Poplar Branch Road.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

BARCO – An ambitious new plan to make Currituck County more pedestrian friendly envisions not just crosswalks at several busy intersections, but also sidewalks along several thoroughfares, including a walking trail the length of the county — from the state line to the Wright Memorial Bridge.

A draft of the plan, called “Connect Currituck,” was unveiled during two sessions in Currituck last week, one at the Senior Center at Currituck Community Park in Barco and a second at the Corolla Library on the Currituck Outer Banks.

Jennifer Baldwin, a partner with Alta Planning and Design in Durham, gave presentations on the draft pedestrian plan at both sites. Alta drafted the plan after studying pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns in Currituck and gathering input from county residents. A $60,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation paid for the plan.

The purpose of Connect Currituck, according to the plan, is to increase “walk-ability” in Currituck, offering both health and environmental benefits to residents and visitors. The plan also seeks to offer more safety features, alerting motorists that pedestrians are nearby.

In an interview after the session at the Senior Center, Baldwin said one of the plan’s priorities is making two busy Grandy intersections more pedestrian friendly.

For example, the plan calls for an east-west crosswalk over Caratoke Highway at the Poplar Branch Road intersection as well as a north-south crosswalk over Poplar Branch Road just west of the intersection. Both crosswalks, which would be signaled for pedestrians, would allow people to cross safely between several businesses at the intersection. 

Just down Caratoke Highway at the Walnut Island intersection, the plan also calls for an east-west crosswalk over Caratoke and a north-south crosswalk over Walnut Island Boulevard. Both crosswalks would be signaled pedestrians. The plan also envisions a side-path or trail extending alongside Caratoke Highway from Poplar Branch Road to Walnut Island Boulevard.

The plan also calls for eventually transforming many streets in Grandy’s residential areas into “quiet streets,” Baldwin said. A quiet street is one in which the width of the two lanes is reduced enough to allow creation of a third, pedestrian-only lane.

Another priority addressed in the plan is in Moyock, specifically the intersection of Caratoke Highway and Shingle Landing Road. The plan calls for an east-west crosswalk on the north side of the intersection. The crosswalk would allow pedestrians to walk back and forth between residential areas on the east and west sides of Moyock.

Baldwin said the plan calls for eventually building a side-path/trail along Caratoke Highway through Moyock and a sidewalk along Tulls Creek Road.

Another priority addressed in the plan is the Barco area, at U.S. Highway 158/Shortcut Road and College Way. The plan calls for an east-west pedestrian crosswalk over College Way on the north side of U.S. 158/Shortcut Road.

College Way serves as a connector street from U.S. 158/Shortcut into College of The Albemarle's Regional Aviation and Technical Training Center, which is at the western edge of Currituck Community Park.

Long term, the plan also envisions a side-path/trail running the length of Caratoke Highway between the North Carolina-Virginia line and the Wright Memorial Bridge. Also envisioned is a side-path/trail along U.S. 158/Shortcut Road between Caratoke Highway and Currituck Community Park.

The pedestrian plan also addresses Currituck’s Outer Banks area. One priority is to transform both Lighthouse and Whalehead drives in Corolla into quiet streets.

Lighthouse and Whalehead extend up from Albacore Street to Shad Street. Lighthouse and Whalehead are also just west of the Atlantic oceanfront and just east of N.C. Highway 12.

Baldwin said the plan calls for eventually completing the Corolla Trail, which is the hard-surface path already in place along much of N.C. 12 in the Corolla area. It also calls for a walkway along N.C. 12  from the Currituck County-Dare County line to the end of the paved highway at the lower end of an estuary.

Baldwin said she plans to hold a workshop on the plan with the Currituck Board of Commissioners Sept. 18, but public comments are welcome until Sept. 22.

She said commissioners are anticipated to approve a final version of the plan before the end of the year. That plan will set a vision for how the county wants to proceed on making any of the suggested improvements.

For further information about the pedestrian master plan for Currituck County, visit online at: http://www.co.currituck.nc.us/connect-currituck.cfm

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