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A transportation and circulation study of downtown Black Mountain will likely begin in the spring of 2019 after aldermen voted unanimously to approve an interlocal agreement with the Land of Sky Regional Council on Nov. 19.

The study will provide the town with a better understanding of the movement patterns in the central business district and allow officials to address traffic and parking issues in the area.

The majority of the funding for the study, which is anticipated to cost $35,000, will be provided by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization. The MPO is a partnership of 21 Western North Carolina counties and municipalities with the state government. The organization assists in making transportation decisions in urbanized areas in the region.  

The town is required to match the MPO’s $28,000 contribution with the remaining $7,000 to fund the study.

The resolution to direct town manager Josh Harrold to execute the interlocal agreement will allow the town to release requests for proposals for the project.

“The funding actually comes from the federal level, so the interlocal agreement allows that to be funneled through Land of Sky,” Harrold said. “It really represents the beginning of the project.”

The Land of Sky Regional Council provides technical assistance to the 19 municipalities and counties which it counts as members.

The agreement allowed the town to release requests for proposals for the study. That process will take 45 days, according to Harrold.

Once the RFPs have been reviewed, Harrold said, the MPO and N.C. Department of Transportation require a three-month selection process.

“When you’re dealing with federal money there are a lot of boxes you have to check,” he said. “Unfortunately, it takes that much time to select a consultant, because there are so many criteria they have to meet and so many people have to sign off on the selection.”

Work on the study likely will not begin until next year, Harrold continued.

“We may be able to shorten that up a little, but at the earliest, we’re probably looking at late-February into March before there is someone out here doing the work,” he said.

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