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The Signal Mountain Planning Commission has approved the town's long-term plan for developing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and a resolution to adopt the plan will go before the town council at its Sept. 11 meeting.

The plan was developed over the past two years by a six-person committee comprising citizen Anne Hagood, Town Manager Boyd Veal, Planning Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Graham, Town Councilman and Planning Commissioner Dan Landrum, Public Works Director Loretta Hopper, and Special Projects and Compliance Manager Sam Guin, along with Southeast Tennessee Development District staff members Greg Davis and Jennifer Williams.

An online survey conducted last November revealed that 89 percent of respondents felt the town should allocate at least some funds to improving or increasing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and 83 percent indicated that the town did not have enough of these facilities.

Projects were prioritized based on grant funding availability, connectivity needs, feasibility and public opinion. The top projects were identified as:

» Constructing and repairing the sidewalks in Old Town

» Adding a pedestrian crossing on Ridgeway Avenue between the town hall complex and Barrington Road

» Adding bicycle facilities, such as a bicycle lane or paved shoulder, along Shackleford Ridge Road and Timberlinks Drive

» Connecting James Boulevard to Timberlinks Drive with sidewalks and bicycle facilities through the Hidden Brook subdivision

» Adding a multi-use path on Ridgeway Avenue

» Connecting Green Gorge Park to Ridgeway Avenue, with proposed sidewalks along Palisades Drive and Ladder Trail to connect with existing trailheads

» Pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection of Texas Avenue, James Boulevard, Maryland Avenue and Timberlinks Drive

» Adding a safe, accessible pedestrian path through the town hall complex

The town is in the process of applying for grants to fund some of those projects, but funding for several others has already been secured.

The town received funding from the Chattanooga Area Transportation Planning Organization to repair and construct sidewalks in Old Town, including those on portions of River Point and Brady Point roads, St. Charles Street, James Boulevard, and Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi avenues. The total project cost is $583,100, with the town funding $116,620 and the remaining $466,480 covered by federal funds.

The project should move into the construction phase within the next year or two, according to the bicycle and pedestrian plan. Veal said the completion date is difficult to estimate at this point.

The town also received a Transportation Alternatives Program grant for $357,372.50 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The town will fund $71,474.50 of the 80-20 matching grant, with federal funds covering the remaining 80 percent, or $285,898. This will cover the cost to install a lighted crosswalk across James Boulevard adjacent to Rolling Way, and add sidewalks from James leading to and running through the town hall complex.

"Especially in the summertime, kids are all over this place, so this is something we really worked hard to get," said Veal.

The town was not expecting to receive the TAP grant, he added, and had applied for a TDOT Multimodal Access Grant for the same project. TDOT is allowing the town to modify its application for the matching multimodal grant, which could award as much as $900,000, to cover a different project: a bike and pedestrian path from the town hall complex south to Pipers Path, a block from Norris Field. TDOT would supply 95 percent of the total awarded and the town would be responsible for 5 percent.

The town of Walden has also applied for a similar multimodal grant through TDOT, with plans to add a multimodal path from its town hall to the town of Signal Mountain's business district.

The town of Signal Mountain was previously awarded a Transportation Improvement Project grant from TDOT for a bike and pedestrian path from the town hall complex north along the highway to the town limits. That project should have funds obligated to it by 2020, according to the town's bicycle and pedestrian plan. So if all goes as planned, there will be a continuous multimodal path stretching from Walden Town Hall to Pipers Path, connecting all of the mountain's business and civic centers.

The Old Town sidewalk project will bring the sidewalk on Mississippi Avenue down to the traffic light on Ridgeway, so the only gap in pedestrian facilities would be the block between the traffic light and Norris Field.

A resolution to apply for the TDOT Multimodal Access Grant is expected to go before the council by the end of September.

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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