Planning group seeks public input for Anniston bike lanes

Anniston Star (AL), 2014-09-03


Sept. 03 -- Anniston residents can add their two cents to the city's plan to ask for federal money to extend the Chief Ladiga Trail and build bicycle lanes downtown at a public meeting Sept. 9 .

Anniston's plan, discussed by the City Council in August, involves petitioning the Calhoun Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for federal funding to buy more land for the trail and the construction of bike lanes.

If the city gets that funding, it could start building almost 4 miles of bicycle lanes along Clydesdale, Moore and Cobb avenues and Noble, Fourth, 11th, 14th and 18th streets .

The planning organization receives about $2 million from the federal government each year, which it gives to local governments for road construction and improvement projects. Anniston and Oxford have requested funding increases for several projects, including Anniston's bicycle-related work. Oxford needs almost $2 million to buy land for resurfacing and drainage work on Snow Street .

Bill Curtis is the executive director of the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission , which supports the Metropolitan Planning Organization .

He said the meeting is "simply an invitation for the public to review the information, and make verbal or written comment on it." Decision-makers will take the public's comments into account, he said.

Anniston City Planner Toby Bennington hopes that the planning organization will approve the increase.

"These are local projects that have regional impact," he said. The extension of the Chief Ladiga Trail alone would give Anniston a "multi-state connection," he added.

If the amendments are approved, Anniston will receive an additional $598,805 for bike lane construction and $250,000 to buy more land for the trail. It would have to match 20 percent of those funds with the planning organization.

"I do think it's a good idea. Of course, I'm a cyclist," said Mike Poe , treasurer for Northeast Alabama Bicycling Association .

Poe said that the proposed lanes and trail extension would be good for Anniston residents' quality of life, possibly leading more people to get out on their bikes. He also says that if Anniston can make its roads more accommodating to cyclists, more will visit.

"Once the Chief Ladiga Trail is completed, we'll see more cycling traffic to and from Atlanta ," he said. "If the infrastructure here in Anniston is friendly to bikes, they'll be more likely to come in. That's tourism dollars."

Patrick Wigley , owner of the Wig's Wheels bike shop on Noble Street , also hopes the city will get the funding it needs to finish the project.

He thinks that both the bicycle lanes and the trail extension need to happen, because they both cater to what he called the "comfort zone" of most cyclists -- smooth asphalt.

"We have the infrastructure here in Anniston ," he said. "All we need is the blacktop."

The meeting will be held Tuesday next week from 2 to 5 p.m. on the third floor of the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission building on Quintard Ave.

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