Project is part of the new Slocum-U.S. 70 interchange

It’s not exactly a walk in the park, but a new pedestrian pathway will link the MacDonald Downs and Tucker Creek neighborhoods when the new Slocum Road interchange is constructed.

The Havelock Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to put up nearly $33,000 for the 10-foot wide pathway, with the N.C. Department of Transportation putting up an additional $77,000 to cover the cost of the project.

“It’s about as good a deal as we can get on a sidewalk,” Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said.

Construction on the new Slocum Road interchange may start later this year, depending on DOT’s bidding process, but with the new interchange, the entrance and exit off U.S. 70 to the MacDonald Downs neighborhood will be altered.

As part of the plan, Marshas Way in the MacDonald Downs neighborhood will be extended and looped to meet Pine Grove Road behind Wells Wayside Furniture and the city fire station. That road will continue on to Sermons Boulevard in front of Tucker Creek Middle School.

The plan commissioners approved Monday night calls for the construction of the pathway on the right side of the new road, which could allow children in MacDonald Downs to walk or ride their bikes to Tucker Creek Middle School.

“I saw a study where children who walk to school do better in school than those who are driven or bused,” Commissioner Brenda Wilson said. “Not only does it help with obesity, but it allows them to clear their minds.”

Commissioner George Corbin did raise a concern about the path crossing what is a bus and car pool road for the school and asked if a crosswalk would be painted across the road. Katrina Marshall, the city planning director, said she believed the road was the responsibility of Craven County Schools and that she would contact school officials about the planned sidewalk.

Another concern was that the path would cut near the old Phoenix Recycling location, which contains mounds of trash and construction debris from the defunct site. In planning, Havelock officials brought up the idea of a fence around the area, but it is not included in the project.

As part of the agreement, the city would be responsible for maintenance of the sidewalk.

Initial estimates call for construction of the Slocum interchange to be completed in 2019, though there is no firm date.

In other business Monday night, the board agreed to use $41,692 from the water fund to pay for repairs and filter pumps for two city wells as well as $15,547 from the sewer fund to pay for repairs to a vacuum truck. Lee Tillman, city finance director, said substantial money was available in both funds to cover the costs.