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Lake Norman bike trail planning underway

Despite the state's severe budget crunch, transportation officials have given the go-ahead for planning to begin on a network of bike and walking trails around Lake Norman. Public meetings are being held this week. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Lake Norman is the site of the state's first regional bike plan. It's being coordinated by the Centralina Council of Governments, where Bjorn Hansen is transportation director. He says the network will include mountain bike trails and paved paths as it crosses through more rural areas on the north side of Lake Norman. But on the more populous southeast side in Cornelius and Davidson, the focus will be giving cyclists a chance to put down their car keys. "This has a genuine opportunity of linking to commuter rail, bus stops, large employers, colleges and downtowns for shopping, as well as for commuting to work," says Hansen. "So certain segments are going to be oriented more towards recreation. And other segments are going to also serve as vehicle replacement types of trips." North Carolina lawmakers allocated $170,000 to develop the bicycle network plan before the recession hit. Hansen says state transportation officials have given the green light to spend that money, but have also asked for a list of priorities, so parts of the network can be funded one at a time as money comes available. Public meetings on the bike path plan are set for tonight at Unity Presbyterian Church in Denver and tomorrow at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville, as well as next Tuesday at Davidson Town Hall. All of the meetings will be at 7 p.m.