With the partnership of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, the Dare County Tourism and Health Committee, and Dare County’s Outer Banks Scenic Byway Committee, the construction of a pathway through Avon and the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo are well on its way.
Soon both locals and tourists will have a safe area for meandering through the northern Hatteras villages, according to Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy, chairwoman of the county’s Scenic Byway Committee and a moving force behind the pathway.
The initial construction, which began in April, is expected to last into mid-July. The project has been allowed 105 calendar days for completion but, if need be, the committee can ask for an extension.
Construction of the pathway includes the use of wood and concrete, with the path itself being completely concrete. Concrete was chosen because it’s inexpensive yet strong. Also using concrete means any damage can be repaired by a local contractor, which would not be the case with asphalt. Wood will be used as a barrier on each side of the pathway in order to keep the pathways shape and will also be used on bridges over wetlands.
The completed pathway will weave its way through the entire village of Avon from the northernmost ramp, on the side sound, to the southernmost part of Avon ending at the site of the historic Big Kinnakeet Life-Saving Station. The pathway in the tri-villages will start in the Rodanthe Historic District, at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center, and continue southward to the Salvo Day Use Area.
Because of the extensive ditches, drainages, and waterways throughout the tri-villages, the construction of four elevated bridges is required. The bridges themselves will be 8 feet wide, compared to the 5-foot width of pathway everywhere else.
The project itself has a budget of $2.45 million. Bids from the two contracting companies on the project came in at $1.5 million. The rest of the budget money has come solely from volunteer donations from around the county and money set aside for pathway projects from Dare County’s Tourism Board.
As the pathway becomes available for use, islanders and visitors will be able to walk, rollerblade, bike, skateboard, and run on the pathway. The only means of transportation that is not allowed on the pathway is the use of motorized vehicles unless they are necessary for mobility, such as motorized wheelchairs and scooter. Golf carts will not be allowed.
In order to keep the pathway clean and provide any necessary work it requires, the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association has pledged to adopt-a-pathway in those villages. This will assure users and the county, that the pathway stays open, clear, and clean for year-round use.
The overall purpose of the Scenic Byway pathway project is to get the community involved. The goal of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway and the Dare County Department of Public Health is to get the community more active in a healthy lifestyle including exercise. They have teamed up to create the Pathway for Health, which is a year-long study involving the pathway and the direct effect it has on the community’s overall health.
The committee will take data from participants in three categories — overall weight, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI). After a fiscal year of participants’ using the pathway, the committee will regroup and take data on the three categories again to see if the community members have seen an improvement in their health.
There is no cost to participate in the study, which is completely voluntary and is open to adults who live and work in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo and Avon areas.
Dare County and the Scenic Byway Committee hope the pathway is not only used by islanders and visitors but also ensures their safety. They are planning ahead for more pathways in the remaining villages.
If you have any questions on the Pathway for Health study or would like to learn more about the pathway project, you can contact the Dare County Department of Public Health at 252-475-5081.