SUCCESS: East Boone Connector

UPDATE: East Boone Connector Multi-Modal Path will be Built by the NCDOT

Harmony Lanes is excited to announce that the East Boone Connector multi-modal path, proposed to the NCDOT in the spring of 2019, has been added to the plan for the Bamboo/Wilson’s Ridge road upgrades by the NCDOT, and will be paid for by the NCDOT.  The East Boone Connector will run on the west side of Bamboo Rd. from US 421 to the Wilson’s Ridge intersection.  The multi-modal path will be separated from traffic by a curb and grass/landscaping to protect users.  The East Boone Connector will be the first on-street protected multi-modal path in Boone.  It will allow East Boone pedestrians and cyclists to access the Boone Greenway, services like the Hospitality House and businesses like Center 45 climbing gym and Hatchet Coffee at Bamboo Rd., the future town complex at Brookshire Park, the future Grove Street connector greenway, and Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park.   The NCDOT project will start with right of way acquisition in 2020 and should finish within 3 years. Initially, the East Boone Connector would have needed up to 30% matching funds from the Town of Boone and Watauga County, but the NCDOT has elected to include and pay for the path since it fits with their Complete Streets policy.  Thank you NCDOT! Protected multi-modal paths incorporate barriers and green space to separate and protect walkers and bikers from vehicle traffic.  This is a benefit to drivers also because every person you see in the path represents one less car on the road with you. Also, safety for bikers, walkers, and drivers is significantly improved, and safe corridors increase the percentage of people who will choose to navigate Boone by human power.  With Boone’s traffic and growth challenges, increasing ASU enrollment, and the international problem of climate change, installing more on-street multi-modal paths makes sense.  Harmony Lanes is working to link the Boone Greenway, Middle Fork Greenway, ASU, and town with more protected multi-modal infrastructure to connect the many population centers to each other.   Harmony Lanes thanks everyone in the Boone community who helped form and articulate the plan for the East Boone Connector, especially the many residents who emailed the NCDOT supporting the proposal, Mike Pettyjohn and Ramie Shaw at the NCDOT for helping adjust the proposal to work with the overall project, and Taka Omori for mapping the East Boone Connector.   Harmony Lanes is a new 501c3 non-profit.  The mission is: Create safe, inclusive multi-modal infrastructure. Harmony Lanes is actively soliciting members for the organization to build toward making Boone a safer place to walk/run/bike/skate/scoot for our unusually active population.  Sign up information is on the website at https://harmonylanes.org/membership/.

What: The East Boone Connector is a proposed protected bike and pedestrian path along the new Bamboo/Wilson Ridge NCDOT road improvement project. The path will be protected by a curb and separate from the road portion (see diagram.) The NCDOT will start construction on the road widening portion in 2020/21.  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. 

Where:  The NCDOT project is a $9 million, 3 year construction project to widen Bamboo Road and Wilson’s Ridge Rd. from Hwy. 421 to Deerfield Rd.  The East Boone Connector will run parallel to the road project from Highway 421 to Wilson’s Ridge (only) and provide protected space for cyclists and pedestrians. After Harmony Lanes’ campaign to raise public interest and support for the EBC to be added to the project, the NCDOT modified their plan to include it in July 2019. Local communities have an opportunity to get the East Boone Connector built for only 30% of the project cost, the NCDOT will pay the rest.

Why:  The original NCDOT plan had no bike lanes or sidewalks included.  East Boone is starting to boom now and will continue to grow in the next 5-20 years.

Several factors are drastically increasing bike and pedestrian traffic in this area now and for the next 5-10 years:

  1. The Hospitality House (a 24-hour homeless shelter serving 7 counties,) the Community Care Clinic (low-cost health services,) Health and Hunger Coalition (food pantry,) Center 45 climbing gym, Hatchet Coffee, and other services at Brook Hollow Rd. are attracting a diverse clientele who walk and bike by preference or necessity.  There are no sidewalks or other accommodations for pedestrians or cyclists in this busy and dangerous corridor. Harmony Lanes believes anyone who needs or wants to walk or bike this corridor should be able to do so with dignity.
  2. The planned Town of Boone complex and greenspace/greenway connections next to Brookshire park are creating a new facility that was 3 separate locations previously.  This will vastly increase vehicular and pedestrian/bike traffic to this area. 
  3. Eastward Expansion of the Town of Boone into this area:
    • BooneShine brewery opened in Summer 2019.
    • Several large commercial tracts are for sale near the future Town complex which will become student apartments or other commercial developments in the future.
    • Town of Boone skate park under construction now and future greenway extension at sewer plant will increase bike/ped/skate traffic. 
  4. The Grove Street Connector -funded greenway extension from Perkinsville to Brookshire Park, starting construction in 2025, will also increase bike/ped traffic, tying in the Hardin Park and high school area to Brookshire Park via the greenway.
  5. ASU Beaver Health Sciences Building/Hospital growth are creating a new population center at Deerfield Rd. 
  6. The Watauga County Recreation Center under construction at Hunting Hills Lane will be another destination East Boone residents/visitors will want to access.  

*All of this new growth is going to create demand for new housing complexes in East Boone. There will be significant growth in people wanting to live in this area. 

Who:  Harmony Lanes is a local non-profit formed to fulfill our mission: “Create safe, inclusive multi-modal infrastructure.” Check us out at www.harmonylanes.org.