Monday, July 22, 2024

Top four items in Kure Beach Bike and Pedestrian plan to cost $7.2 million

The Kure Beach Bike and Pedestrian Plan, funded by the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, was passed by the town council earlier this year and has numerous projects planned to increase mobility. (Courtesy photo)

KURE BEACH — Tourists and residents alike will see improved mobility in Pleasure Island’s southern half with the town’s upcoming street projects. 

The Kure Beach Bike and Pedestrian Plan, funded by the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, was passed by the town council earlier this year. 

As more and more people populate and visit the island, Mayor Pro Tem Allen Oliver thinks the town could use some upgrades to accommodate that growth. 

“Our roads are heavily used,”  Oliver said. “The more visitors we have come to town, the more people we’ll have that are going to want to cross over and go to the ocean.”

The most exciting part of the plan, in his opinion, is the ability to increase public safety as people flock to the shore. 

While not everything in the plan has been funded, the town plans to “chip away” at each part using federal or state grants and the town’s general fund allocations. The total of 11 projects will cost $9 million.

Below are the plan’s biggest highlights.

K Avenue and Fort Fisher Boulevard Crossing 

K Avenue improvements outlined in the plan. (Kure Beach/Alta Planning + Design).

One of the few projects already funded, improvements to this intersection act as the opener to the rest of the plan. The WMPO secured $360,000 from the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act last year for the changes.

Potential upgrades to improve pedestrian safety include adding sidewalks, crosswalks, refuge islands and signage reminding drivers to yield to walkers. 

Other improvements along K Avenue, totalling up to $120,000, are unfunded at this time. 

The plan suggests improvements at Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. Recommendations include adding high-visibility crosswalks and center median refuge islands for road-crossers. Also proposed is a sidewalk connecting K Avenue to Town Hall, along with shared-lane and crossbike markings to caution drivers along the avenue.

Boardwalk Widening 

A boardwalk widening rendering put forth in the plan. (Kure Beach/Alta Planning + Design).

According to the town’s observations, Kure Beach’s current boardwalk is too narrow to accommodate traffic from opposite directions, much less bikes or scooters that traverse the path. The document suggests the boardwalk be widened to at least 10 feet, but 12 feet if the right-of-way allows.

Not only is the space a concern, but also the boardwalk’s material. Town staff suggest exchanging the boardwalk’s wood planks for concrete to reduce repair frequency.

Increased room on the new boardwalk would release the strain of bike-riders on adjacent Atlantic Avenue. According to the proposal, the public also cited concerns about bikes accessing Fort Fisher Boulevard from the boardwalk where there is no sidewalk. The plan suggests adding one connecting the two routes. 

The boardwalk cost approximates $1.7 million, with an additional $6,000 for the sidewalk. 

Island Greenway Extensions

Listed as three separate projects, Kure Beach is looking for connections to Carolina Beach’s Island Greenway bike and pedestrian path. The current path ends at Alabama Avenue, but Kure Beach is aiming to lengthen it all the way to Fort Fisher. The goal is to provide a safer route for people to reach different parts of Pleasure Island without clogging busyr streets, like Fort Fisher Boulevard. 

Most of the trail would be located on the Department of Defense at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point property and needs approval. If the department OKs the project, the town would need to erect a fence along the path. 

The first phase would extend the greenway to Setters Lane. The cost estimate is $150,000. 

Work along the next two portions would need to address the land’s reported drainage issues, construct fences to allow privacy to nearby homes and put up mile markers for wayfinding. This part would potentially have less of an ecological footprint than the Carolina Beach greenway to preserve the natural feel of the corridor. 

The second phase would connect to Kure Beach Town Hall in over 5,000 feet of path. The town identifies Dow Road as an alternative, although less viable, location for a $1.2 million price tag. 

The presentation listed many public concerns with the second extension, including residents’ privacy worries and inquiries into the feasibility of the greenway’s location near wetlands and on MOTSU property. The cost was also raised as an issue. 

The final extension would end at Fort Fisher. With a 12,000-feet distance, it would cost the most at around $3.5 million. The plan acknowledges placing this path portion closer to the western edge of Kure Beach as a $2.8-million option, but it sacrifices a connection to the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. Public concerns were similar to the second phase, but people liked the ability to travel to the fort while avoiding Fort Fisher Boulevard. 

Fort Fisher Crossing Improvements

Example of the recommended flashing beacons for beach access points in Carolina Beach. (Kure Beach/Alta Planning + Design).

The Kure Beach Bike & Pedestrian document reveals the public was “overwhelmingly in support of increasing the amount of crosswalks” along Fore Fisher Boulevard, the town’s main thoroughfare. 

Improvements will include Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons to better alert drivers of  crosswalks and pedestrians. The solar-powered technology was found to decrease crashes by 47% according to the presentation. 

The beacons will be installed at the following Fort Fisher intersections: Assembly Way, Beach Access #1045, Avenue I, Avenue M, Avenue N and Beach Access #1004. The cost estimate is around $230,000.

Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at 

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