Regional bike plan public input meeting Monday

Published 11:38 am Thursday, January 18, 2018


Five Polk projects listed on draft plan

COLUMBUS – The public is invited to attend and give input on a draft Isothermal Regional Bike Plan on Monday, Jan. 22.

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The public input drop in will be held from 4-7 p.m. in the Polk County Emergency Services Conference Room, located on the first floor of the Womack Building, 40 Courthouse Street, Columbus. The meeting will also be the January Polk Trails Committee meeting.

The draft regional bicycle plan was prepared by the Isothermal Planning & Development Commission (IPDC) and the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT).

“This plan aims to use bicycling as a tool for improving mobility, safety, health, economy, environment and overall quality of life,” states the plan.

The draft plan includes five projects in Polk County.

The Saluda Grade Rail Trail is listed from the Henderson County border to the South Carolina border in Landrum.

Another project in Saluda is downtown Saluda to the Green River Game Lands from downtown to Green River Cove Road.

A plan for lanes on NC 108 from downtown Columbus to downtown Tryon is also listed, as well as downtown Tryon to the Southern Highlands Bike Route from NC 108/US 176 to New Market Street and another bike route on NC 9 from Mill Spring to US 74, including to the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).

The Saluda Grade Rail Trail is proposed at 9.3 miles at an estimated construction cost of $11.5 million. The needed rights of way are from Norfolk Southern, as Norfolk Southern currently owns the railway and has yet to give up the rights for such a trail, although groups in the area have been working on getting the company’s approval for years.

The downtown Saluda to Green River Game Lands bike lanes is proposed to be 1.9 miles and cost $2 million, according to the draft plan. There are no rights of way issues predicted.

The project of separate bicycle lanes from Columbus to Tryon is estimated at 4.2 miles and $9 million, according to the draft plan. Several rights of way will be needed.

The project to create bike lanes from downtown Tryon to the Southern Highlands Bike Route is proposed at 0.5 miles and estimated to cost $75,000. No rights of way will be needed for that project, according to the draft plan.

The Mill Spring to US 74 project is estimated to be 3.1 miles and to cost $7.7 million. No rights of way issues are predicted for the project.

IPDC was awarded a planning grant from the DOT to develop a regional comprehensive bicycle transportation plan with the purpose being to identify opportunities and constraints for bicycling in the Isothermal region and to establish recommendations for improvement.

The Isothermal Regional Bicycle Plan covers Cleveland, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties in western North Carolina.

“The region includes some of the most beautiful areas of North Carolina, from rural rolling hills and farms, to small towns, to large mountains and to abundant recreational activities,” states the draft plan. “The existing and expanding Thermal Belt Rail Trail is a centerpiece of the region and is a model for continued bicycle network development across the region.”

To view the full draft plan, visit To complete a survey about the plan, visit