Duck has hired an engineering firm to start designing pedestrian improvements in the town’s village-commercial area. Tensions can run high between strollers and bicyclists during the busy summer season.

The Town Council approved the two-year $269,000 contract with VHB Engineering of NC Jan. 5 to move forward with the municipality’s Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan that has been a long time in the making but finally was adopted late last year.

While the plan addresses the entire town, the bulk of improvements are slated for the downtown village area. Three new crosswalks will also be incorporated into the new traffic pattern, along with the connection of the proposed sidewalks to eight crosswalks that are already in place.

“We have a ton of people there, and whenever you have that many people, you are going to have conflicts,” said Town Manager Christopher Layton. During the busy tourist season, an existing shoulder is often packed tight with pedestrians and bicyclists who use it to access the many shops, restaurants and other businesses on N.C. 12. While heavily used by pedestrians, it was really never designed to be a sidewalk, Layton said.

A key component of the design work will revolve around the construction of sidewalks on both sides of the roadway from Aqua Restaurant to Cook Drive, and a sidewalk on the east side of the roadway from Cook Drive to Sunset Grille. Existing shoulders will be converted exclusively to bike lanes and be extended on the east side of N.C. 12 south to the crosswalk at Sunset Grille and north to the existing crosswalk at Aqua Restaurant.