Go Mills River Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan

Summary

The Town of Mills River partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, and Traffic Planning and Design, Inc. to develop the Town's first bicycle and pedestrian plan. This plan will identify potential routes for new multimodal infrastructure to support alternate modes of transportation including sidewalks, greenways, bike paths, bike lanes, and safety signage.

History

In 2019 NCDOT adopted a Complete Streets Policy which establishes that any multimodal improvements identified in local or regional plans can be included as part of a State roadway project following the same route. This is important because it allows towns and cities of small to medium sizes to implement new bicycle and pedestrian amenities at little to no cost to the local taxpayer. 

The Plan

The Town's work on this project officially began in the summer of 2020 with the adoption of Resolution 2020-06 authorizing the Town to submit its grant request. On January 6, 2021 the Town learned it was approved for the grant and the official grant agreement was signed on March 18, 2021. Once the agreement was signed the Town immediately began identifying a steering committee and gathering the required data and documents to establish baseline information to be used in the development of the plan.

Throughout the summer and fall of 2021 the Town's steering committee met to identify goals for the plan and garner feedback from the public. On February 9, 2022 two public meetings were held via Zoom (unfortunately a rise in COVID numbers at that time prevented in-person meetings). On August 7, 2022 the Town gathered feedback from the public at the annual Party in the Park event hosted by Mills River United Methodist Church at the Town's park. 

Why do we plan? To make better decisions. This plan establishes a vision for pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, it positions the Town for future funding and partnerships, supports local goals of multimodal connections, and guides developer participation. 

Plan Vision 

Mills river is a close-knit community with a high quality of life where infrastructure and connectivity is prioritized. People can easily and safely walk and bike for transportation and recreation. Residents and visitors can access the Town's park without a car, and transportation opportunities connect neighborhoods to schools and commercial / employment centers.

Purpose

The plan's purpose consists of three priorities.

  1. Identify and connect key locations for people walking and biking;
  2. Build these connections into a network that the Town can develop over time;
  3. Foster a pedestrian and bicycle friendly Mills River through programs and policies.

Goals

The steering committee identified four goals for the Go Mills River plan:

  1. Create the Network: Connect greenways, sidewalks, bike facilities, and street crossings to key destinations and schools.
  2. Build Safe Streets: Create connections that are comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
  3. Improve Policy: Identify policy recommendations that facilitate greenways, sidewalks, or other multimodal improvements.
  4. Promote a Culture of Walking and Biking: Develop educational and encouragement programs that support a culture where walking and biking is celebrated.

Final Steps

Throughout the first half of 2023, the Town's Planning Board and the Parks, Trails, & Recreation Advisory Committee reviewed the plan, provided additional feedback, and made a recommendation to the full Town Council. The Parks, Trails, & Recreation Advisory Committee recommended approval of the bicycle and pedestrian plan at the March 28, 2023 meeting. The Planning Board also  recommended approval of the Go Mills River Plan at the May 2, 2023 meeting. 

On August 24, 2023, the transportation planning consultants from Traffic Planning & Design presented the final version of the Go Mills River Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan to Town Council. Council adopted the plan in a public hearing at the October 12, 2023 meeting.

To view or download a copy of the final plan, please click the link below.

Go Mills River Plan

For more information and to view recordings of the public input session click here.