Blue Heron Trail gets two ribbon cuttings: Bermuda Run celebrates official dedication at pedestrian bridge along U.S. 158 and tunnel under I-40

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 20, 2023

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BERMUDA RUN — A long journey came to the finish line last Tuesday with a walk through Bermuda Run when the town celebrated not one but two ribbon cuttings along U.S. 158 at the pedestrian bridge and then in front of the tunnel under I-40 to officially dedicate the Blue Heron Trail.

Mayor Rick Cross said that it was significant to have a pair of ribbon cuttings to celebrate a vision that surfaced in discussions during meetings for the town’s first comprehensive plan in 2012.

“We wanted to recognize the importance of connecting our community through our Blue Heron Trail, and we wanted to celebrate the opening of our trail with our Kinderton Village neighborhood because it’s the point in the trail where a pedestrian tunnel travels under Interstate 40,” Cross said. “This tunnel has been in existence since I-40 originally came through the area many decades ago. What a great way to connect the future with the past by revitalizing a part of our community that has not been in use for many years.”

A gathering of the council, staff, county representatives and a hearty group of local residents made the trek from the pedestrian bridge to the tunnel and back — a total distance of close to a mile.

The dedication came in the late afternoon of a sun-splashed summer day before what was supposed to be a council meeting at 6 p.m. However, that meeting was continued until the town’s next regular meeting date of Tuesday, Aug. 8, as a result of the anticipation of a large crowd for public hearings that would far exceed the space of 50 to 60 seats in town hall involving a petition for annexation of the Hall Walker Lane and Yadkin Valley River Road parcels and a Hall Walker Development 10/70 provision request on approximately 57.4 acres of the project area.

“This was a result of an increased level of attendance and a responsibility to ensure adequate participation and for the safety of our attendees, guests, staff and council members,” said Town Manager Andrew Meadwell, “and to efficiently conduct the business and functions of the town responsibly, efficiently and within an adequate meeting space. We haven’t nailed down a location yet but do hope to have that established soon.”

Still, that didn’t take away from the earlier celebration of the new path.

“This first phase of our Blue Heron Trail is a key part of our town’s long-term goal of having a fully connected community,” Cross said. “As a relatively young town, just 24 years old, we continue to build traditions — our concert series, Christmas in the Town of Bermuda Run and events on our town square, just to name a few. It is also important for us to be able to connect from end to end so residents and visitors can walk, run or bike throughout our town.”

The cost of the Blue Heron Trail totaled $3,731,018 and was funded 80 percent ($2,954,395.46) by an NCDOT Surface Transportation Block Grant Program and 20 percent ($776,622.54) by the town.

The first phase of the trail, which was initially planned to be completed in 2020 but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and funding issues with NCDOT, is a paved 10-foot-wide path that will eventually loop the Bahnson ponds at Kinderton Village Residential and connect to the future Riverwalk Trail.

The opening of Phase 1, which follows U.S. 158 from the roundabout to just past Royal Troon Lane, makes a right as the trail proceeds through the tunnel to Kinderton. This first phase is about a mile long.

“The Blue Heron Trail is a commitment to our community to provide safe and efficient pedestrian networks,” Meadwell said. “The town and its leaders have communicated and advocated for this project during the past eight years and have worked tirelessly to ensure that Phase 1 and future trails meet the needs and desires of the Bermuda Run community and all who visit.”

Although the trail currently ends inside the Kinderton Village neighborhood, Cross talked about what is coming down the road.

“Planning for subsequent phases of the trail is underway,” Cross said, “and we will be hopeful to connect the pedestrian bridge over I-40 with the current Blue Heron Trail in the near future.”