The Foothills RPO is seeking letters of interest from qualified consultants to perform a study on connecting local schools to the Thermal Belt Rail Trail.
The Thermal Belt Rail Trail is a 13.5-mile rail trail that connects Forest City, Spindale, Rutherfordton, Ruth, and Gilkey. The trail has become a recreational, transportation, and tourism asset to the region. As is the case with successful long-distance trails across the United States, there is a desire and the need to provide safe, connected access to and from the trail from the local community and community destinations such as schools. There are six schools that are within ½ mile of the trail (easy walking distance) and a total of nine schools that are within 3 miles of the trail (easy biking distance).
It is the desire of the Foothills RPO and the jurisdictions along the trail to provide safe routes to schools from the Thermal Belt Rail Trail. A Safe Routes to Schools and Trails (Thermal Belt Rail Trail) study is proposed to provide safe active transportation accommodations to students, teachers, and neighborhood residents. This study will determine both infrastructure recommendations and program recommendations that provide physical access and encouragement programs to get more kids walking and/or biking to school.