Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Carolina Beach hopes to improve Harper Avenue aesthetics, increase pedestrian and bicycle friendliness

Currently the avenue is not very pedestrian friendly and lacks connectivity through sidewalks.

Improvements are in the works for Harper Avenue in Carolina Beach (Port City Daily/Courtesy Carolina Beach)
Improvements are in the works for Harper Avenue in Carolina Beach. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Carolina Beach)

CAROLINA BEACH — Harper Avenue in Carolina Beach is not known for its pedestrian-friendly or aesthetically-pleasing aspects, according to locals who recently answered a survey, but that could soon be changing.

The Town of Carolina Beach has been working to improve the corridor that connects Dow Road with Lake Park Boulevard through the Harper Avenue Streetscape project.

While the plan is not expected to be implemented until fall of 2019, traffic engineers and planners from Kimley Horn along with town staff have been working to finalize a solution for the route. On Tuesday, Town Council will be presented with results from a design workshop held earlier this month.

According to the council’s agenda packet, “The right of way on Harper Avenue is between 90 and 100 feet and can be improved to provide a safe and aesthetically pleasing multi-modal transportation system without purchasing more property.”

Concerns and goals

So, what exactly are the goals of the Harper Avenue Streetscape project? Well, Kimley Horn identified seven goals after a two-day charrette (an intense planning session):

  • Preserving greenspace
  • Preserving the median
  • Inclusion of a multi-use path
  • Compression of the streetscape to encourage slower speeds
  • Center the streetscape so as to not have more or less of impact on either side of street
  • Enhance parking
  • Find a way to accommodate long-term business and property owners

The charrette offered locals a chance to weigh in on what they thought was important for the street, identify several challenges, and take a look at what engineers could plan for the route.

According to a presentation from Kimley Horn, Harper Avenue is a street worthy of special attention, and is the best-identified route to connect the state part with the beach.

Maintaining parking for residential areas was top of the list of concerns, and the need for it changes depending on where along the corridor you are, according to the presentation. In order to fully understand parking needs, the planners are recommending a town-wide parking study.

Flooding is a big concern at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Dow Road (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)
Flooding is a big concern at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Dow Road (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)

Stormwater concerns, especially at the intersection of Dow Road and Harper Avenue are also on the top of the list, and planners are recommending extra efforts to minimize the number of impervious surfaces in the corridor.

Walking and biking

Making Harper Avenue more pedestrian and biker friendly was also a key concern of residents. Currently, there are several conflicts along the corridor between cars and pedestrians; overhanging parking creates a bulk of the conflicts.

There is also a need for more connected sidewalks as well as the widening of them, according to planners, the current sidewalks are so narrow two people cannot walk side-by-side. The preference of the town would be to add a mixed bike and pedestrian path along the route.

According to survey results, when asked how safe Harper Avenue is for pedestrians 42-percent of respondents answered ‘not safe at all.” Zero respondents answered the street was “very safe.”

The Town of Carolina Beach’s Town Council will hear from planners at the upcoming Town Council workshop on Tuesday night.


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