Southern Pines Road Granted Scenic Byway Status
BY TED M. NATT JR.
Geoff Cutler and Blanche Woodruff spent a lot of time driving around Southern Pines in 2010 after the Appearance Commission decided to seek Scenic Byway status for one of the town's roads.
"We were looking for possible routes, such as Youngs Road, Midland Road and the May Street extension," Cutler said.
Ultimately, the commission decided on a 2.8-mile stretch of East Connecticut Avenue from the intersection of South Ridge Street to the entrance at Fort Bragg.
"The application process is quite involved, and that road fit almost all of the criteria," Cutler said.
The N.C. Department of Transpor-tation (NCDOT) agreed, granting Scenic Byway status earlier this month.
Cutler credited Woodruff, former chair of the Appearance Commis-sion, with spearheading the movement to obtain the designation.
"Blanche really did the hard work," he said. "We are pleased that the state agreed with us. That stretch of road shows off the best qualities of our community."
Woodruff said it was "gratifying" to have the road - now officially known as the East Connecticut Avenue Scenic Byway - selected "for this distinctive recognition."
"The byway affords residents and visitors alike the opportunity to visually experience the beauty and culture of our historic town," she said.
Mayor David McNeill commended Woodruff and the commission for obtaining the designation.
"That stretch of road represents many of the town's outstanding visual characteristics," McNeill said. "We hope the new status will bring more visitors to Moore County, especially downtown Southern Pines, which is three blocks from the western terminus of the Scenic Byway."
NCDOT selected the road, in part, because of its natural beauty and abundance of recreational features.
The route is lined with a number of large, mature longleaf pines and -various hardwood trees. It also passes by the Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve, a 900-acre state-owned park that showcases the area's -natural features, including its unique longleaf pine ecosystem. Nearby trails and bike paths provide opportunity for outdoor pursuits such as horseback riding and bicycling.
"That stretch of road captures the essence of why people think our community is so beautiful," Southern Pines Town Council member Mike Fields said.
As part of the new designation, that portion of East Connecticut Avenue will be marked by official NCDOT Scenic Byway signs and included in NCDOT's nationally distributed Scenic Byways Guide.
The state's 55 Scenic Byways consist of roads in North Carolina that travel through areas of scenic, historic and cultural significance. They vary in length from three to 173 miles, and in character from curvy mountain roads to ferry rides across coastal sounds.
Moore County is home to portions of three other Scenic Byways: Devil's Stompin' Ground Road, Pottery Road and Sandhills Scenic Drive.
The intent of the system is to provide travelers with safe and interesting alternate routes.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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