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Catawba bike lanes approved for federal funding

Bike lanes at Catawba College moved one step closer to reality on Wednesday.

For many major transportation projects in Rowan, funding is a significant barrier to make ideas a reality. On Wednesday, however, Catawba’s bike lanes received additional federal funding for the 2017 fiscal year — July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. The Rowan-Cabarrus Metropolitan Planning Organization approved making Catawba bike lanes and a Kannapolis sidewalk project the top two priorities for spending.

The total project cost is about $400,000, with 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent local funding.

The bike lanes are planned to run along both sides of West Innes Street to connect Catawba College to an existing greenway, according to documents prepared by the Rowan-Cabarrus Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The bike lanes at Catawba are shown on Salisbury’s bicycle master plan as connecting to the “Family Friendly Loop,” which runs down West Innes Street, into the Eagle Heights neighborhood, past Knox Middle and Overton Elementary schools, into Forest Hills Park, onto Parkview Circle and back onto West Innes Street.

Catawba’s bike lanes would also be interconnected with a route that snakes down Statesville Boulevard, Enon Church Road and U.S. Highway 601.

Most of the bike lane projects in Salisbury haven’t yet been built. Dozens of proposed routes criss-cross through Salisbury in the bicycle master plan.

Catawba’s bike lanes will be funded through North Carolina’s Congestion Management and Air Quality Program. It’s a federal program that funds transportation projects in areas designated as non-attaintment and maintenance. By funding projects such as bike lanes, the program aims to help areas achieve national air quality standards.

The Rowan-Cabarrus Metropolitan Planning Organization is expected to receive $1.57 million in fiscal year 2017 for the air quality projects. Money from the MPO will trickle down to local governments, such as the City of Salisbury. The city is also required to provide matching funds.

In other business from the Rowan-Cabarrus MPO meeting:

• The board added several new projects to a list of priorities for future funding.

Among the Rowan projects were an expansion and track improvements at the Salisbury train station on Depot Street, sidewalks along North Main Street in Kannapolis and extending Ivory Lane to serve as a service road for Old Beatty Ford Road.

• Adopting two different plans that include priority projects for Rowan and Cabarrus County.

Perhaps the most long-awaited project is an Old Beatty Ford Road interchange with I-85. The project has been on the MPO’s list of priority projects for years. MPO documents place the project as occurring between 2016 and 2025.

The total estimated cost of an Old Beatty Ford Road interchange is $15.12 million.

An expansion of Julian Road from Jake Alexander to Old Concord Road is also listed as a priority project by the MPO. It would expand Julian Road from two lanes to four lanes. The project would add sidewalks and bike lanes. Its total cost is estimated to be $11.5 million.