Wilson to rewrite pedestrian walkability plan

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Efforts to improve Wilson’s walkability took another step this week as the city was awarded grant funding to help with the planning process.

Wilson was one of 10 communities awarded funds through the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant, and the funds will be used to replace the pedestrian plan created in 2006. Go to tinyurl.com/y8hekasm to view the current plan.

“This gives us a chance to reevaluate the pedestrian plan and the bigger picture,” said Wilson planner Michelle Brown. “We can address the things we probably didn’t think of in ’06 like greenways and other amenities that involve walking, running and multi-modal transportation.”

The grant award varies depending on population, but Wilson was awarded between $55,000 and $75,000 with a 40 percent match required from the city. The planning process is expected to get underway in late summer and take a year as consultants hold community meetings to gather public input and put together the plan.

“It’ll become like an action plan for implementation with a prioritized list of projects,” Brown explained. “It is a working document, so things can shift, but this will help guide us to improve the city as a whole.”

The plan will incorporate existing projects such as the path at Lake Wilson and the Hominy Creek greenway project as part of the recent master plan for parks and recreation, but likely will include other facilities and programs to improve the walkability of Wilson.

“By looking at where we have the gaps, it’ll improve the connectivity and allow folks to reach more of these destination areas, whether it is downtown Wilson, a park or a shopping center,” Brown said.

The grant has been awarded to 193 communities since its inception in 2004, contributing more than $5 million to develop pedestrian and bicycle plans across North Carolina. Wilson and the other nine recipients competed with 13 others for a chance at the money to improve accessibility.