WEST JEFFERSON — As West Jefferson’s tourism continues to grow, others from well outside the state are beginning to take notice.
The national publication, Roads and Bridges, featured a six-page report on the design and success of the West Jefferson Streetscape project in its August edition. The trade magazine has been published for 108 years and reaches over 62,000 subscribers monthly through its print edition and over 55,000 people through online subscribers that receive weekly E-Newsletters. Roads and Bridges shows engineers, contractors and government officials the latest advancements in the road and bridge industry.
The article discussed how the project came to exist and the successes of the plan.
According to the article, the town was planning to resurface South Jefferson Avenue and add a drainage improvement project, but instead saw a way to change the downtown landscape with some help from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Smart Growth America’s National Complete Street Coalition.
The project started in 2011 with the NCDOT removing two signal lights and replacing those with four-way stop signs and BREMCO adding decorative street lights. The work continued with the addition of diagonal parking, curb extensions (commonly referred to as “bump outs”), street crossings and street furniture.
According to recent statistics, projects like the West Jefferson Streetscape have helped reduce accidents by 24 percent while at the same time increasing traffic volume without decreasing travel times.
“One of the biggest things is that it’s safer for pedestrians to cross the street, but it also slows down traffic giving people time to see what we have in town,” said Brantley Price, West Jefferson town manager.
In the article, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Director Cabot Hamilton praised the street upgrades, saying that the new design helped add businesses in buildings which had sat empty for some time.
Tourism numbers have increased steadily to go along with the increased number of businesses which have found their way into downtown.
“The improvements have really brought additional visitors to town. I can just tell by the amount of foot traffic that has come through town the last couple of years,” Price said. “People just love what we have done.”
Price also said that there will be another article featuring the West Jefferson Streetscape in the national publication, Governing magazine, which will be released in October of this year.
To read the article in its entirety, visit the Roads and Bridges website at www.roadsbridges.com and click on the August 2015 edition. The article spans from pages 26-31.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87