Federal grant could lead to boardwalk across a Lake James Dam

MORGANTON, NC (WBTV) - People driving across the Linville Dam on Lake James can't take their eyes off the majestic views of the lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

"It is just awesome," said Debra Horney on Thursday afternoon. "We drove by twice to try to take a picture."

There are no pulloffs or anywhere to stop a vehicle to take a photo and hiking across the dam is dangerous.

It is a narrow two-lane road with guardrails and steep slopes on either side.

Behind the scenes, though, local officials had been working on a plan to change things.

Scott Carpenter, Planning Director for Burke County, has been involved in establishing a new county park and a trail system around the lake.

Fonta Flora Park is now a reality with trails connecting to a loop across public and private land around lake James as well as to several state trails. But the loop will not be complete without crossing the Linville Dam.

A federal gr ant has now been awarded to the county to hire engineers to study, design, and build a boardwalk alongside it.

The $400,000 dollar gr ant is what is called an 80/20 gr ant where the county has to contribute one-fifth the cost.

Because the dam is part of Duke Energy's hydro electric operations, federal regulators would have to approve any designs.

Carpenter says he has been working for years to get to this point and believes something can be drawn up to meet with federal approval.

If built, it will become part of the Fonta Flora State Trail system that includes the Burke County Park trails and, if everything goes as planned, will eventually have a trail that leads all the way to Asheville.

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