Fuquay-Varina wants to get people walking

aramos@newsobserver.comJuly 1, 2013 

Fuquay-Varina wants feedback from the public on how to make the town more pedestrian-friendly.

ALIANA RAMOS - ARAMOS@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Get out your sneakers.

Fuquay-Varina wants to become more pedestrian-friendly, and the town is asking for public input about how to make that happen.

The town launched an 18-question online survey to find out which parts of town need sidewalks, what kinds of destinations people want to walk to, the safety of existing intersections and the potential barriers to walking.

Survey-takers can also weigh in on what kinds of pedestrian-friendly amenities they would like to see, such as signs, lighting, landscaping and buffers.

Town representatives will be at a booth during Wednesday’s Independence Day celebration at South Park at 820 S. Main St. to share information about the project.

“What we’re trying to do is vet priorities and build a consensus,” said Danny Johnson, Fuquay-Varina’s assistant planning director.

Feedback from the surveys will be used to develop a pedestrian master plan, which is partly funded by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The state is giving the town a 70 percent match, or $31,500, toward the $45,000 plan.

The money is part of the state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative, which has helped more than 100 communities.

Fuquay-Varina hopes to finish the plan by the end of the year. Once it’s complete, Johnson said, it will make the town more competitive for future sidewalk grants and other pedestrian projects.

Convincing residents to walk more has health, environmental and economic advantages, according to Walk Friendly Communities, a national program that promotes safe walking options.

Of course, sidewalks are cheaper to build than highways. One mile of a four-lane highway costs $20 million to $80 million. One mile of sidewalk costs $100,000, according to the group.

“At least a third of households want to live in walkable places, but only 5 to 20 percent of the housing supply in most regions would be considered walkable,” according to a report by Walk Friendly Communities.

In the past two years, Fuquay-Varina has moved forward with several initiatives to make the town more walkable. In 1998, 2005 and 2010, the town completed streetscape projects in the main stretches of the Fuquay and Varina downtowns.

It spent at least $1.7 million on sidewalks and lamp posts, among other projects.

In 2012, the town set aside $75,000 to design better sidewalk connectivity between the Varina downtown and big-box retailers on Broad Street.

For more information about the pedestrian master plan, and to see a map of existing sidewalks in Fuquay-Varina, go to www.fvpedplan.com.

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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