Multiuse Path Petition Gaining Momentum
Posted: February 1, 2016 By RYAN CORNELL Found online here: http://www.dnronline.com/article/bike_paths02012016
The Connect Our Schools petition, organized by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, recently opened to signatures online. It calls on City Council to build three projects by fall 2017, when the new elementary school is slated to open.
The first project includes building a sidewalk on Garbers Church Road linking the site of the future elementary school near Heritage Oaks Golf Course to the neighborhood north of it. A paved shared-use path would be built starting from the school and extending south past Harrisonburg High School before connecting to Erickson Avenue.
A second project would add a shared-use path starting from the proposed path in front of the high school and extending east around the perimeter of Heritage Oaks to connect with Hillandale Avenue at Hillandale Park. A separate shared-use path would link Hillandale Avenue farther north with the Wyndham Woods neighborhood.
The third project would create the Cale Trail, which would connect Thomas Harrison Middle School with Wyndham Woods and Westover Park, about a mile east of the school. The proposed trail is named after Dr. William Cale and his wife, Susan, who donated 12.8 acres for the path.
The city has applied for a revenue sharing grant through the Virginia Department of Transportation, which would fund half of the estimated $3 million cost for all three projects. City officials will know by June whether they will receive the grant, according to the campaign’s website.
The website says the projects would connect more than half of the city’s student population with walking and biking paths to elementary, middle and high schools. The campaign, which had more than 585 signatures on Sunday, seeks 1,000 signatures from city residents by early March.
Thomas Jenkins, co-owner of the Shenandoah Bicycle Company and a member of the bicycle coalition, said the coalition plans to present its proposal to City Council in March, requesting it commit to completing the projects by 2017.
“You don’t open a school without a road going to it,” he said. “We believe the same should be true with bikes and pedestrians.”
Jenkins introduced the projects to a group of 10 residents at a campaign launch event at Shenandoah Bicycle Company on Thursday. The event also included an update on Harrisonburg’s bicycle and pedestrian plan.
The plan, which includes a list of proposed infrastructure projects, was last updated in 2010. An updated plan is expected to be finished at the end of this year.
Projects completed in the 2010 plan include the addition of bicycle lanes on South Avenue and Main Street, the first phase of the Bluestone Trail shared-use path, and Safe Routes to School initiatives.
While the paths proposed by Connect Our Schools have been in the plan since 2010, Jenkins said, the need for them has been identified in plans as early as 2005.
Those attending Thursday’s event said they support the campaign.
Carl Droms, 63, a member of the bicycle coalition, said the paths are needed to give students more options than riding the school bus or being driven in cars.
“If they have to be driven everywhere,” he said, “that’s what they’re going to do as adults.”
Contact Ryan Cornell at 574-6286 or [email protected]