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Carrboro Board of Aldermen seeks to improve students’ pedestrian and biking routes

Two projects were presented at Tuesday’s Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting that could improve students’ transportation to elementary schools and eventually to Carolina North.

Aldermen discussed implementing a bicycle connection from UNC to Carolina North that would go through parts of Carrboro.

Total cost for the project — and how the two municipalities involved would divide it — have not yet been determined.

Discussion of the path arose after residents asked for a path to Carolina North that does not go down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, said Mary Jane Nirdlinger, assistant planing director for Chapel Hill.

“It’s the kind of thing that would be well used by the community,” she said.

Town and University officials originally discussed three possible routes for the path. The chosen route, called Route A, is the longest of the possible routes but will be the flattest and have the least environmental impact, she said.

Alderman Joal Hall Broun said because both Chapel Hill and Carrboro are struggling with limited budgets, the town should wait to take any action until a cost is finalized.

“It might be good to explore Chapel Hill and Carrboro combining to get a grant,” she said.

Transportation consultants Christa Greene and Matt Hayes presented an update on the Safe Routes to School Action Plan, which aims to increase the number of students walking and biking to school and improving their safety.

Once it is put in place, the program will improve sidewalks, multi-purpose paths, bike lanes and the use of safety guards. The project is a service award the N.C. Department of Transportation given to Carrboro in 2009.

“The goal is to figure out ways to improve walking and bicycling both by providing infrastructure and improving programs,” Greene said.

The rising rate of obesity in children is reflected in the decreasing amount of those walking and biking to school, which would provide approximately half of a day’s exercise, Greene said.

“I’m really excited about this because I live in the McDougle (Elementary School) district, and I see the children out there even in the bitter cold, and it is great,” Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell said.

The town is still in the beginning stages with implementing the school plan.

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