Greenways

An artist rendering of the ATT bridge over I-40.
City of Durham

That pedestrian and bike bridge over I-40 near the Streets at Southpoint Mall has made a world of difference to the users of the American Tobacco Trail. That’s according to a before-and-after study by N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

Program manager Sarah O’Brien says from spring 2013 through spring 2014, the number of trips on the trail rose by 133 percent.

Man sitting on a park bench
Grant MacDonald / Flickr/Creative Commons

Raleigh voters have approved a $92-million bond referendum to improve parks and recreational facilities in the capital city.  The measure was solidly supported, 68 percent to 32 percent.

Voters' approval will mean a rise in property tax of 1.72 cents that will go into effect next July.

Funds from that tax increase will also pay for acquisition of new park land and new construction.  The plans for improvement are detailed in a new System Plan adopted by the Raleigh City Council.

Raleigh greenway boardwalk
City of Raleigh

The city of Raleigh has dedicated the recently-completed final section of the Walnut Creek Greenway Trail. Now more than 15 miles long, the trail winds through the southern part of the city from Lake Johnson to the Neuse River Trail.

Todd Milam is a planner for the city of Raleigh's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. He says the trail includes nearly a mile of 10-foot-wide boardwalk that takes walkers, runners, and bikers through secluded wetlands.

An artist rendering of the ATT bridge over I-40.
City of Durham

Structural engineers will put a pedestrian bridge over I-40 this weekend.  Work crews will stay busy overnight Sunday to install the addition to the historic American Tobacco Trial.  The bridge is a major step in adding four miles to the American Tobacco Trail that connects the existing portion to a stretch that ends at the Chatham County line.

Ed Venable, an engineer on the bridge placement project,  says I-40 will have to be shut down to put this bridge --  now in four sections -- in place.

Walking a dog on Bolin Creek Trail.
Catherine Lazorko, Town of Chapel Hill

Orange County’s population may be smaller than that of its neighboring counties, but its greenways are no less loved. Chapel Hill and Carrboro both tout themselves as bike and pedestrian friendly towns, and Hillsborough has taken pains to create elaborate bicycle and walking routes throughout its downtown area that highlight dozens of historical buildings.  

A cyclist on the Capital Area Greenway.
City of Raleigh

Aside from the fact that Raleigh has a smartphone app for its greenways, the most impressive thing about its trails might be that so many of them are connected. Instead of a dribble of pavement here and there, the Capital Area Greenway System forms a giant loop around the city with several offshoots. There are sections where you can ride a bicycle over 30 miles without leaving a paved trail.

Chunky Pipe Creek
Triangle Greenways Council

Just days after the City of Durham kicked off its trail season, the Triangle Greenways Council (TGC) has finalized a deal allowing for the creation a new greenway in Durham County. The group purchased a parcel of land along Chunky Pipe Creek, about two miles upstream from Falls Lake, Raleigh’s drinking water source (see a map here). The land has already been designated  for a future greenway project in the Durham Open Space Plan.

TGC  bought the land on April 10 from private owners, who will benefit from the NC Conservation Tax Credit and other federal tax deductions that incentivize conservation efforts. The purchase is the fourth parcel that TGC has bought along the creek.  The City of Raleigh provided funding via the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative, a consortium of seven conservation groups that aims to protect land important to  the health of drinking water sources in the Upper Neuse River Basin.

Laura Candler

Durham might seem like it’s crisscrossed with bike lanes and greenways now – from the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) on the southern edge of town to the North/South Greenway that picks up where the ATT leaves off in the city. But 30 years ago, that was not the case.

Downtown Greenway in Greensboro, public art,
Action Greensboro

With springtime comes the urge to get outdoors, and in a handful of North Carolina’s cities and towns, a growing network of greenways is making that easier to do. While North Carolina does not stand out nationally for its volume of bicycle commuters (it ranks 41st in the country), it does have a higher bike commuting rate than any neighboring state except Virginia. And several of North Carolina’s cities have adopted transportation plans to accommodate a higher volume pedestrians and cyclists.