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courtesy of City of Hickory hkytrail

City of Hickory Celebrates OLLE Art Walk & Riverwalk Ribbon Cutting

On Thursday, April 4, 2024 The City of Hickory held two events to celebrate milestones associated with the Hickory Trail. A groundbreaking ceremony for the OLLE Art Walk was held at 1079 Third Avenue Drive NW along Old Lenoir Road. That event marked the start of construction for this project. Following that, a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Riverwalk, another segment of the Hickory Trail, was held at the overwater bridge trailhead at the end of Old Lenoir Road.

Old Lenoir Road is set to get a makeover thanks to over $18 million in grant funding from the Greater Hickory Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Hickory City Council unanimously approved agreements with NCDOT to receive federal funds to construct a multiuse trail and make streetscape improvements along Old Lenoir Road, which will be known as the OLLE Art Walk (formerly Old Lenoir Walk).

OLLE Art Walk is a planned multiuse path that will connect multiple sections of the Hickory Trail network that is being developed by the City of Hickory under the Crafting Hickory initiative and $40 million bond referendum passed by Hickory voters. The OLLE Art Walk will run along Old Lenoir Road to connect the City Walk to the Riverwalk and Aviation Walk segments of the Hickory Trail. Once a major thoroughfare into and out of the central business district of Hickory, Old Lenoir Road is now home to funky retail boutiques, a budding arts district, and a variety of businesses.

This section of trail is named after the OLLE Arts District, which derives its name from the first two letters of “Old” and “Lenoir” from the road name, Old Lenoir Road. The OLLE Arts District is one of the City of Hickory’s recognized business associations. This area will soon be revitalized with the OLLE Art Walk as one of the segments of the Hickory Trail. With the hope of continuing to cultivate the arts in this area, the OLLE Art Walk plans to incorporate historical markers, public art pieces, and colorful murals along its path.

Construction of the OLLE Art Walk segment of the Hickory Trail will take approximately 24 months to complete.

The Riverwalk segment of the Hickory Trail will showcase the Catawba River, one of Hickory’s most beautiful natural features. The Riverwalk, which will be developed from Geitner Park along the river, will spur new retail jobs and residential growth. Many of the communities with which Hickory competes for jobs and people have found ways to make their water a competitive asset. Hickory is blessed with a wonderful lake and river, but the community has not yet used the lake for economic development.

The Riverwalk will create a unique destination in the region. This will provide public access to the lake and an attractive area for shopping, entertainment, and residential development. In October 2016, the City accepted requests for qualifications to find a design firm to create the Riverwalk design. Design Workshop, Inc. worked on the Riverwalk design. The Riverwalk will offer on-land connections to existing and future amenities, including the Lake Hickory Trails, paved Geitner Trail greenway and Boy Scout Cabin at Rotary-Geitner Park, future Deidra Lackey Memorial Park, and the future pedestrian bridge across Lake Hickory. When NCDOT completes improvements to U.S. 321, the current northbound bridge will be turned over to the City of Hickory for pedestrian use, furthering access and connectivity from the Riverwalk across Lake Hickory.

Construction of Hickory’s Riverwalk started on January 10, 2020, following the award of a contract for the City-funded portion of the project. During its January 7 meeting, Hickory City Council approved a construction contract with David E. Looper & Company in the amount of $5,889,133 for the City portion of the Riverwalk bond project.

The contract with David E. Looper & Company for the Riverwalk City portion included construction of approximately 2,500 linear feet of 10-foot-wide overland multiuse trail with elevated concrete decking supported on columns and metal handrails, approximately 200 linear feet of on-land multiuse trail at the intersection with Duke Energy’s transmission right of way, landscaping, and other amenities. This on-land portion of the Riverwalk is complete, and people are now enjoying excellent views of the lake from the elevated overland trail.

During its October 20, 2020 meeting, Hickory City Council approved a construction contract with W.C. English, Inc. in the amount of $7,185,655.25 for the partially NCDOT-funded portion of the Riverwalk bond project. This is the second phase of the Riverwalk’s construction. The contract with W.C. English, Inc. for the Riverwalk NCDOT portion includes construction of an entrance from Old Lenoir Road, parking and access to the trail system, as well as an elevated walkway over Lake Hickory that interacts with existing City of Hickory amenities. Lighting on the bridge, retaining walls, and all necessary drainage piping are also included in this project. Construction for this portion of the project started in early 2021 and is still underway.

The Riverwalk celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 4, 2024. For additional information visit hkytrail.com.