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Cities on Board to Clean Up the Air

Municipalities in Rowan and Cabarrus counties are taking multiple steps to clean up the air. They are building sidewalks and adding dual left-turn lanes at congested intersections.

They are using hybrid and electric vehicles and developing bike lanes.

Here are just a few of the projects. The City of Concord will add dual left-turn lanes at two of its busiest intersections to relieve traffic congestion: Poplar Tent Road at U.S. Highway 29 and N.C. Highway 3 at U.S. Highway 601. The first will be completed by July of 2010, and the second is scheduled for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. ěAny time you improve efficiency and reduce congestion, you enhance air quality,î says Joe Wilson, transportation director.

All the fleets in Concord adhere to fueling restrictions during ozone-action days. ěWe donít fuel between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.,î Wilson says, because air pollution is worse in the middle of the day. The Concord fleets also have a no-idling policy, which reduces emissions.

Concord has added three new greenways in the past four years, which provide an alternative to driving. Officials have also installed LED signal lights, which use less energy; initiated the use of solar-powered school zone flasher signs; and encouraged energy efficiency in all offices.

Hybrids Reduce Carbon Footprint

Cabarrus County estimates that the use of 23 hybrids, which replaced Crown Victorias, reduced the countyís annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 96 tons. Thatís a savings of 9,925 gallons of fuel.

The City of Salisbury has adopted a Land Development Ordinance that encourages mixed-use development, which means that businesses may be located near housing. That makes it easier for people to walk or ride their bikes.

The ordinance also requires recreational open space for new residential development; and it requires new streets to be developed with high connectivity and short block lengths.

The city is in the design phase for the installation of new sidewalks in three different areas: around the Sports Complex on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; around Salisbury High School; and on Statesville Boulevard.

It has also developed a comprehensive bicycle plan that recommends physical improvements, policy changes, enforcement, education and outreach programs to promote safer bicycling in Salisbury. ěThese projects will increase peopleís transportation options,î says Dan Mikkelson, director of Engineering & Development Services.

Other clean-air projects include: the use of biodiesel in fleet vehicles; the use of a tree canopy analysis that measures carbon sequestration for small-area planning; neighborhood tree plantings; and increased energy efficiency in building operations and maintenance.

The Town of Granite Quarry is in the process of planning for additional sidewalks that will connect residential areas to its Main Street.

The town also initiated a program to recycle brush and leaves, which prevents burning; installed more energy-efficient street lighting; and created a walking trail.

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