Bike lanes added in 421 project
In a reversal of previous plans, the N.C. Department of
Transportation will mark dedicated bicycle lanes as part of the U-4020 project, the widening of U.S.
421 from Hardin Street to Old East King Street in Boone scheduled for completion this
Dean Ledbetter, NCDOT Division 11 traffic engineer, said four- and five-foot-wide bike lanes will be marked on both sides of the highway.
A small section — in front of the Citgo Pennywise gas station on the corner of U.S. 421 and N.C. 105 — will not be wide enough for bike lanes, Ledbetter said.
Until this month, the plans for the widening project did not include bike lanes, instead opting for wider outside lanes to be shared by cyclists and motorists.
“I just decided that we really needed to come back and take a look at this particular project,” Ledbetter said. “We came to the conclusion that we missed it the first time.”
Ledbetter said he discussed the issue with town of Boone officials and local bicycle advocates, including representatives from Boone Area Cyclists, after attending a bicycle facility workshop in November.
A draft copy of pavement marking plans for the U-4020 project indicates the plans were revised Feb. 6 to include bike lanes. The revised plans have not received final approval, Ledbetter said.
The marking of bike lanes will take place when the contractor pours the final layer of pavement this spring.
Ledbetter said the addition of bike lanes will require additional pavement markings, signage and possibly adjustments to traffic signal sensors, but these changes will not result in significant costs. The costs to add bike lanes will be funded by NCDOT and not the town of Boone’s portion of the project costs, he said.