RALEIGH -A N.C. Department of Transportation sponsored study conducted by N.C. State University's Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) on the American Tobacco Trail in Durham has concluded. The study set out to determine changes in trail usage that indicate impacts to transportation, health, and economic behaviors from the construction of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-40.
The bicycle and pedestrian bridge on the American Tobacco Trail crosses over I-40 and corresponding paved connections opened in February 2014 to complete the 22-mile trail from Durham to Apex. The study involved collecting intercept surveys and counting people on the trail in 2013 and 2014 in before and after comparisons of ATT use.
Pre-study data from before the bridge's opening indicate that the northern and southern trail segments functioned as two separate trails. In the months following the bridge opening, the usage on the trail increased by 133 percent to over 500,000 estimated annual trips.
Additional information yielded from the study found that an additional $3.7 million is spent on goods and services each year by people using the trail since the completion of the bridge for a total of $6.1 million spent by trail users annually.
Lauren Blackburn, director of NCDOT's Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation noted, "Outcomes of this research are highly important to agencies looking to fill gaps in their biking and walking networks because it shows that benefits are widespread."
The full research report and summary brochure can be downloaded from www.itre.ncsu.edu/Public/bikeped.html