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Thermal Belt Rail Trail recognized with Mobil Awards

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The Thermal Belt Rail Trail stretches more than 12 miles from Gilkey to Forrest Hunt Elementary School in Forest City.

The N.C. Department of Transportation honored communities recently that developed the state's best multimodal projects, including a public transportation service in Shelby and a bridge with a multi-use path connecting Surf City to Topsail Island.

The NCDOT Mobi Awards, which started last year, honor transportation projects that improve the economy and enhance the quality of life in North Carolina communities. Projects had to combine the use of at least two transportation modes such as aviation, bicycle, pedestrian, ferry, public transportation, rail and roadway. More than 60 projects competed in this year's NCDOT Mobi Awards.

The Thermal Belt Trail Rail (TBRT) received honorable mention in two categories out of 68 participating projects

"With over 11,500 votes for Most Voted Project Category, we thank you for pushing us to the *almost* top of the pack," said a spokesperson for the rail trail. "Our support has shown the state how much this trail means to you, our community."

The NCDOT offered its support during the project and selected the rail trail as runners up in the Tourism category.

"Whether we're building bike and walking paths, making it more convenient for people to use public transportation or finding new ways to safely accommodate travelers on our highways, multimodal projects are an important piece of our transportation present and future," said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. "And it's why we're here today - to celebrate your commitment to multimodal investments and the important role they play in our way of life."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Mobi Awards were presented virtually and are available on NCDOT's YouTube Channel. Boyette, Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Julie White and Board of Transportation Chairman Mike Fox presented the awards in the video.

Judges selected winners and honorable mentions from the following categories: Rural, Urban, Tourism and Innovation. For a new category, Most Voted Project, all this year's entries were placed online so the public could vote for a First-Place winner and an honorable mention.

The 2020 NCDOT Mobi Book, which has detailed descriptions and pictures of all this year's entries, can be found online.

Area project winners:

Rural

Honorable Mention: REACH Transit in Shelby. The project was nominated by the Transportation Administration of Cleveland County, Inc.

Tourism

Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns. The project was nominated by the Isothermal Rural Planning Organization in Rutherford County.

Innovation

Winner: REACH Transit in Shelby. The project was nominated by the Transportation Administration of Cleveland County, Inc. REACH Transit is a fixed route that runs in Shelby. Residents use this public transportation lifeline to get to medical facilities and pharmacies, grocery stores, and a community college. Many people were unable to access these places previously.

Most Voted

Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns. The project was nominated by the Isothermal Rural Planning Organization in Rutherford County.

Judges selected this year's top projects based on how well projects leveraged public and private investment, contributed to economic development, created long-term jobs, improved public health and quality of life, and made other significant contributions.

The event's organizers were NCDOT, the North Carolina Triangle Chapter of Women's Transportation Seminar, N.C. Go!, and N.C. State University Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

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