From left to right, Boone County Commissioner Eddie Hendricks, Danville Town Manager Josh Barker, Madison Mayor Sonny Howell, Boone County Commissioner Mickey Brown, Seventh Senatorial District state Senator Ron Stollings and Boone County Commissioner Atholl Halstead are pictured during a check presentation during the Tuesday, April 24, regular session meeting of the Boone County Commission. The $175,000 check represents 20 percent of the approximately $800,000 pedestrian walking bridge project to connect the Town of Danville to the Wellness Trail in Madison.
MADISON – On Tuesday, April 24, the Boone County Commission awarded a matching grant of $175,000 for a pedestrian walking bridge project to connect the Town of Danville to the Wellness Trail in Madison.
“This is a great day,” Seventh Senatorial District state Senator Ron Stollings said. “The wellness trail has done so well and we wanted to tie in Danville. We applied for this grant and we were able to procure this federal grant.”
Five months ago, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration and the West Virginia Division of Highways, announced $4,802,314 in federal funds awarded to 27 projects as part of the 2011 Transportation Enhancement grant program.
The West Virginia Transportation Enhancement grant program is a Federal-Aid program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration.
“The program provides annual funding, through the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) legislation, to West Virginia communities for non-traditional transportation projects such as improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists through the construction of sidewalks and trails, preserving viewsheds for our highways, preserving historic resources and stimulating tourism development,” the governor said.
Boone County was awarded $700,000 for its pedestrian walking bridge project.
Stollings said the award was great news for Boone County. Stollings has been working with the governor to find funding for the much-needed bridge.
“This was several heads coming together,” said Danville’s town manager Josh Barker. “Madison, Danville, the county commission and Senator Stollings all came together to make this dream a reality.”
Stollings said this project will make for a more walkable community and healthier citizens.
“I want to applaud the commission and the two towns for working together and Summit Engineering for making the grant application very good,” Stolling said. “Boone County gives so much to the state of West Virginia and this is a small way to give back to a county that gives so much.”
Stollings says the goal of the walk bridge is linking Danville to West Madison is to make the communities more walkable.
“We’ve been trying to tie Danville into the Wellness Trail,” Stollings said. “This bridge would create access to Scott High School and its facilities, the Wellness Trail, tennis courts, the new Chad Pennington Park and more.”
Stollings said this is not only a public health issue, but also an economic development issue as well.
“Walkable communities are thriving, livable, sustainable places that give their residents more healthy choices and improved quality of life,” he said. “Increased walkability also helps improve resource responsibility, safety, physical fitness and social interaction.”
“The goal is to build it where the old highway bridge was in the 1970’s,” Stollings said. “We wouldn’t have to put in a pier and it would be an arch-span style walk bridge. I think we have a good chance to qualify for this funding.”
Stollings added that walkable communities are desirable places to live, work, learn, worship and play, and therefore a key component of smart growth.
“This project would be more than just a walk bridge,” Stollings said. “Walkable communities make pedestrian activity possible, thus expanding transportation options, and creating a streetscape that better serves a range of users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, wellness trail walkers and more.”
Walkable communities are nothing new. Outside of the last half-century, communities worldwide have created neighborhoods, communities, towns and cities premised on pedestrian access.
Many, like Stollings, believe that the personal and societal benefits of walkable communities create greater social interaction, improved personal and environmental health, and expanded citizen choices.
“This bridge encourages walking and offers many economic benefits by connecting these two communities,” Stollings said.
Madison Mayor Sonny Howell and Boone County commissioners Mickey Brown, Eddie Hendricks and Atholl Halstead all applauded the project and work done by the various groups to obtain funding.
“This is what can happen when we all work together,” Howell said.
“This is great news for Boone County,” Brown said.
“People come from all parts of the county to walk on this trail, so this will make it even better,” Hendricks said.
“All the walking trail systems in the county, like the one at Water Ways water park, are doing well and we are glad to see people using them,” Halstead said.
Stollings also thanked Summit Engineering, Inc. for doing some pre-engineering work on the proposed project.