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Henderson County wins $10M grant to complete Ecusta Trail to county line

Henderson County has landed a $10.5 million grant to complete construction of the Ecusta Trail from Horse Shoe to the county line, sustaining the strong momentum and state and regional support that has sped the greenway from concept to concrete over the past year.

Christopher Todd, the county's director of business and community development and its point person on the Ecusta Trail, announced the grant at the regular meeting of the county's Rail-Trail Advisory Committee on Wednesday morning.

The grant was finalized when the French Broad MPO on May 27 formally adopted an MPO staff recommendation to fund the Henderson County project and seven other bicycle, bus and pedestrian projects in the four-county MPO region.

The grant of $10,467,234 was approved as part of the Locally Administered Project Program, which directs funding from the Federal Highway Administration's surface transportation block grant. The grants require an 80-20 match. When Henderson County received a $5 million federal grant for the construction of the first segment of the trail from Kanuga Road to Horse Shoe, trail supporters raised the match from private money. Aside from the considerable staff time it devotes to the trail, the county has yet to appropriate county property tax revenue to the trail's design or construction. The new grant, the largest among all the awards the MPO approved, requires a local match of $2,626,809, for a total of $13,084,043.

The downside of the grant was the timing. Todd said the information the French Broad has now indicates the money will be available until 2026. A "worst case scenario" for the timing is 2028, said Tristan Winkler, executive director of the MPO. He said the MPO board will discuss the grant and timing again during its August meeting and explore ways it could advance the timeline. Construction of the trail from Hendersonville to Horse Shoe east of the French Broad River is expected to get under way next spring.

Aside from the Ecusta Trail, other grants, local cost share and totals were:

  • City of Asheville: Swannanoa Greenway, $2.5 million, $3.6 million, $6.1 million.
  • NCDOT Division 13: Riceville Road sidewalks, $830,000, $220,000, $1.05 million.
  • Town of Montreat: Texas bike-ped bridge, $152,800, $38,200, $191,000.
  • Buncombe County: Woodfin Greenway, $7.6 million, $1.9 million, $9.5 million.