Like other area towns, Atlantic Beach pursues more sidewalk, crosswalk infrastructure

Graphics from the Atlantic Beach Town Council’s Sept. 9 work session shows three intersections where town officials are pursuing crosswalk projects with the N.C. Department of Transportation. (Contributed graphic)

ATLANTIC BEACH — Town officials said they are pursuing multiple infrastructure projects, including the installation of more crosswalks and sidewalks, over the coming months.

The Atlantic Beach Town Council met Sept. 9 for its regular work session in the town hall boardroom on West Fort Macon Road and received reviews of proposed efforts for stormwater drainage and sidewalk improvements and crossovers on Highway 58/Fort Macon Road.

Mayor Trace Cooper said Monday in an email to the News-Times the projects discussed were “all well received by the council.”

“We discussed making some changes to our sidewalk plans to more closely tie our next steps to the (town) bike and pedestrian plan we completed a few years ago, under the auspices of the (N.C. Department of Transportation),” he said. “Once we get construction bids in from some of the new projects, the council will have to approve the contracts. Some of the work discussed last week is on contracts that have already been approved, and some of it will be done in-house with our own crews.”

Officials are pursuing new sidewalk segments. These three projects will total 8,160 feet of sidewalk for a total cost of $285,600. The sections and individual costs are:

  • 890 feet along the north side of East Fort Macon Road from the existing sidewalk in front of The Pinnacle to the entrance to Amos Mosquito’s, $31,150.
  • 3,095 feet along the southern side of Old Causeway Road from the Atlantic Beach Causeway intersection to Caribbean Way, $108,325. 
  • 4,175 feet along the northern side of West Fort Macon Road from Palm Suites to the entrance of the U.S. Post Office, $108,325.

Mayor Cooper said the primary change the council made Sept. 9 to the proposed plans was to suggest installation of 10-foot-wide asphalt multi-use paths along the Highway 58/Fort Macon Road projects, as opposed to traditional 5-foot-wide concrete sidewalks.

“These multi-use paths are more versatile and allow two-way bike and pedestrian traffic,” the mayor said. “Traditional sidewalks are better suited for pedestrians. There are some areas in town where the right-of-way isn’t larger enough for the multi-use paths; we’ll use the narrower sidewalks in those areas.”

Atlantic Beach's neighbor, Pine Knoll Shores, is also looking to expand pedestrian infrastructure. On the mainland, Beaufort has sidewalk improvements efforts underway, as well.

Proposed pedestrian projects in Atlantic Beach don’t stop with sidewalks, either. Planning and zoning director Michelle Eitner informed the council at the work session staff has submitted to the NCDOT three requests for crosswalk projects with push-button signals across Highway 58. These crosswalks, if approved, will be installed at the intersections of Highway 58 and Charlotte Avenue, Cedar Lane and at the entrance to Atlantic Beach Community Park.

Town officials will jointly fund the project with the state agency, which will coordinate the roadwork contracts. In addition to the three projects, town officials have also agreed for the NCDOT to move forward with a crosswalk with a pedestrian refugee island near the western entrance of the Palm Suites hotel.

According to Ms. Eitner’s presentation, the proposed park crosswalk signaling is eligible for money in the next round of state funding from the state transportation agency. If approved, installation will occur in spring 2022.

Mayor Cooper said in his Monday email town officials’ goal with its bike and pedestrian infrastructure plans is to make it easy to get around town, both for residents and to enable visitors to “leave their cars in the garage until they return home.”

“With the impact of (Interstate 42) on the horizon, increased car traffic is a serious concern for us,” Mayor Cooper said. “One way to address it is to make it easier for people to get around without cars.” 

 

Reporter’s note: The News-Times did not attend the Sept. 9 Atlantic Beach Town Council work session.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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