Reprinted from Carteret County News-Times
CAPE CARTERET — Cape Carteret commissioners Monday night voted 5-0 to authorize Town Manager Frank Rush to apply for a $100,000 grant application from the North Carolina Recreational Trails Grant Program to build the remaining 1.2-mile segment of the Cape Carteret Trail.
The vote came during the board’s monthly meeting in the town hall on Dolphin Street.
“The N.C. Recreational Trails Grant Program expects to award a total of $1.5 million later this spring, and the maximum grant award is $100,000,” Rush told the board. “I have had extensive conversations with state staff about the potential grant application, and I believe the town has a reasonably good chance of being awarded grant funds for the remaining segment.
Rush said the grant would augment $408,000 the town already has in hand for completion of the asphalt and concrete trail along the triangle formed by N.C. 24, N.C. 58 and Taylor Notion Road.
These funds are from a state Capital Infrastructure Grant, nearly $350,000 remaining from the $500,000, and town funds derived from fundraising and donations, totaling about $60,000.
“A conservative estimate of the construction cost for the remaining segment is approximately $500,000, and I am hopeful the town can fully complete the remaining segment along Taylor Notion Road from Ardan Oaks Drive to N.C. 58, and along N.C. 58 from Taylor Notion Road to MacDaddy’s, for this amount or some lesser amount,” Rush said.
The remaining segments would be constructed to the same specifications as the existing 2.3 miles on N.C. 58, N.C. 24 and Taylor Notion Road and would be located along the edge of North Carolina Department of Transportation right of way on Taylor Notion Road and N.C. 58.
Rush said the path, at this point, would extend all the way to the “point” of Taylor Notion Road and N.C. 58, just beyond Star Hill Drive, but he is investigating the potential acquisition of a vacant parcel just south of the ‘”point” that would reduce the length of the new segment by about 0.2 of a mile.
If the town is able to acquire this parcel, the new multi-use path would likely traverse the southern boundary of this property across from Hickory Hills Road, with the remainder of the property available for other town uses in the future. Rush said he expects to present a recommendation on the ultimate route for the multiuse path and potential property acquisition to the board once the design phase is complete this spring.
He said he hopes to go out for construction bids by early summer, with construction occurring this summer and early fall.
“I am anxious to complete the full loop around the triangle this year and focus the town’s efforts on other beneficial improvements in the future,” he said.
After the meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Steve Martin said he is thrilled the end might finally in sight for the long trail project.
Commissioners approved the project unanimously in February 2015 with the goal of finishing by 2018. It was supposed to be funded by grants and donations, but donations dried up and grants were small until the state legislature approved the aforementioned $500,000 grant allocation in the 2021-22 budget, thanks to efforts by state Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, of Emerald Isle.
Martin said when he first came on the board, he wanted nothing to do with the project, then as time went by saw the lack of completion as an embarrassment and became an advocate for finishing it as soon as possible.
“I think the end is finally near,” he said. “Frank Rush came on board (in July 2022), and he has gone above and beyond” to complete the project.
The trail, similar to one built along N.C. 58 and other main roads in Emerald Isle, while Rush was manager there, is supposed to be a triangular loop for walkers, runners and bicyclists, linking high-visitation sites, such as the Western Carteret Public Library, White Oak Elementary School, the Carteret Crossing Shopping Center and MacDaddy’s Entertainment Center.
But Martin said Tuesday the long and winding saga of the Cape Carteret Trail should serve as a cautionary warning for future Cape Carteret boards of commissioners.
“Don’t start anything until you can see the finish line,” he said.
In other business, the board went into closed session at the end of the regular meeting to discuss potential land acquisition but took no action after returning to open session briefly before adjourning.
This story is provided courtesy of the Carteret County News-Times, a tri-weekly newspaper published in Morehead City. Coastal Review partners with the News-Times to provide our readers with news of the North Carolina coast.