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By Erin Smith

A regional bike plan that has been years in the making is now accepting public comments. The proposed Sandhills Regional Bike Plan, which will connect Fayetteville to Wilmington, is expected to pass through Bladen County.

The public is encouraged to review the proposed Sandhills Bike Plan online and take the survey. You can take the survey here.

Bladen County Manager Greg Martin said, “We want to try to promote healthy activity.”

He said the bike plan will do just that by encouraging residents and tourists to become more healthy by using the bike trail as a means of exercise.

Martin also said there is a tourism aspect tied to the plan as well. He said the county really wants to promote tourism and those who will be using the trail will bring new customers to Bladen County businesses.

“I think it has a lot of merits,” said Martin of the project.

He also stated the proposed bike plan gives residents a sense of being connected to Fayetteville and Wilmington.

Elizabethtown Town Manager Eddie Madden said a meeting was conducted in Elizabethtown about three years ago regarding the regional bike plan. Madden said the Sandhills Bike Path can be utilized as an economic development tool and it will be a way to boost the economy.

Madden said the regional bike plan is being modeled after the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Allegheny Trail. He said those trails draw people from all over the world to ride.

“It will be a tourism boon for us as visitors will be staying in our accommodations and eating in our restaurants,” said Madden.

Madden said the proposed Sandhills Bike Path will connect to existing bike paths and trails in Bladen County and Elizabethtown.

He said the Brown’s Creek Bike Park and Nature Trail will be promoted as part of the trail.

Madden said the initial plan was for the Sandhills Bike Plan to pass through Pender County utilizing abandoned railroad beds; however, there were numerous issues with that route. He said it was decided to bring the trail through Bladen County instead.

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