A warm spring day heralded the opening of the greenway that runs under U.S. Route 421 on April 11, celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by around 30 people.
The greenway will bridge Brookshire Park and New River Hills Drive, providing a safe outlet for cyclists and pedestrians across the busy corridor.
Eric Gustaveson, the Town of Boone’s interim public works director, said he was excited to see the project come to fruition and connect up to the Town of Boone’s greenway.
Joe Furman, Watauga County planning and inspections director, said that citizens were very vocal about their desire for more greenway space.
“It’s something that people not only enjoy and want but they actually demand it and the more you build the more they use,” Furman said. “It’s important for fitness, it’s important also as a tourist draw even.”
Athalia Whitworth said she often brings her kids out to the park to play and she’s excited to see more recreational space as well as a safer path across town.
“If you want to get from one side of town to the other, you’ll be able to do that without traveling on Deerfield and Bamboo,” Whitworth said. “It will be nice to be able to have a people-friendly connection from one side of town to the other.”
Eva Rand said that projects like this are part of a nationwide push for infrastructure that caters to non-motorized vehicles.
“Communities are doing this everywhere,” Rand said. “Especially larger communities that can really afford to really do it across hundreds of miles long and they’re connecting now.”
Ben Edwards, of the Middle Fork Greenway Association, said he was excited to see the greenway built because it is part of the larger effort to create the Middle Fork Greenway and preserve land bordering the New River’s middle fork.
“We need people to get outside and get around without having to drive or whatever and to use the out of doors because we’re blessed with great out of doors,” Edwards said.
John Welch, Watauga County commissioner, said he was excited to see all of the different groups working together to see the project come to fruition
“We’ve been working on this on the county commission for a couple years now and it’s just great to see this finished. It’s gonna be such a huge asset for this area,” Welch said. “This is just another huge piece and a great outdoor recreational infrastructure we’ve got up here.”
Food for the event was provided by Stick Boy Bakery, the Blue Ridge Conservancy and High Country Pathways.
Story by Sammy Hanf, News Reporter