orulz

Triangle Parks and Greenways

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I thought I'd start a thread about parks and greenways in the triangle. This post is a copy of a reply I made in the statewide greenways topic.

Here is a set of photos I took of the Crabtree Creek greenway this past march. The trail currently extends from Kiwanis Park to Picardy Dr. This is tour covers the western segment of the trail, from the I-440 underpass to the end. The photos are ordered from east to west.

under the beltline:

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under Glenwood Ave and Blue Ridge Rd:

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The pedestrian entrance to the mall (why couldn't they have done a ramp instead of stairs?)

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Along Crabtree Valley Ave:

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Under Edwards Mill Rd:

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Around a curve:

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On a bridge over the creek:

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On a long causeway (viaduct?) over a swampy area:

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A large segment of the trail follows the path of a sanitary sewer line, since the vegitation had already been cleared when the sewer was installed.

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The trail ends at Picardy Dr, where there used to be a bridge over Crabtree Creek.

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There is an extension planned along the sewer easement as far as Duraleigh Rd, approximately 1/2 mile west of here:

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The east end of the trail is old and not up to the standards of the rest of the Raleigh greenway system. Around Hertford St, it becomes little more than a dirt track and then has a short discontinuity where you push your bike up a ramp and then ride along Hertford St for a while. The trail resumes on the other side of the creek and across Lassiter Mill Rd and later crosses Anderson Dr at grade before reaching its current terminus at Kiwanis Park. From visual inspection, building grade separations at Lassiter Mill and Anderson Dr shouldn't be too difficult, but the discontinuity at Hertford St presents a significant problem. The homes right there are built right next to the river, and there probably isn't enough space for an 8-foot bike path. A ~100yd causeway, or a bridge over the creek and back again are probably the only options.

An extension eastward from the park is currently under construction. It cross Crabtree Creek several times, and go underneath Wake Forest Rd, Atlantic Ave, and Capital Blvd.

I know it's kind of hard to envision it from just by reading a description. Terraserver helps a lot, but maybe I'll draw up a map sometime later. Next up, I'll do a tour of the trails along Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch

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The American Tobacco Trail

Anyone who knows about bike trails in the Triangle knows about the American Tobacco Trail. When completed, this ambitious rail-trail project will span three counties (durham, chatham and wake). I've not had a chance to run or bike the trail so no photos yet. The best reference for this trail is the User's Guide - but I'll explain what I know here:

The trail follows a 23 mile railroad alignment from downtown Durham to New Hill, NC that was made obsolete when Southern and the old Norfolk Southern merged in the mid 1970s. There is also a three-mile spur (Eagle Spur Trail) that follows an even older railroad alignment abandoned when Jordan Lake was built. The main corridor is owned by NCDOT; the spur goes through NC Wildlife Resources Commision hunting territory and is off limits for most of the year.

The segment north of I-40 in Durham County is complete. A significant section has already been built south of I-40 through the Southpoint area, but an expensive bridge will be needed to connect the two segments. All the completed sections in Durham County are paved. Wake County's segment has a packed gravel surface, and is mostly complete. The segment in Chatham County and southern Durham County will be also be constructed with gravel, but is not scheduled for completion until the 2008-2009 timeframe.

Trains suck at climbing grades, so lots of fills and cuts are made to level out the path. This makes for an extremely easy and pleasant bike ride.

There are a number of interesting events revolving around this trail coming up over the next few days that you all might like to know about, so here goes:

1. According to this press release the grand opening for a 1.75 mile segment in Wake County is scheduled for this Saturday, June 4 2005. The segment has been open for several months, but they're just getting around to celebrating it now. With this segment, there is only one mile left before all 6.5 miles in Wake County are complete.

2. The National Trails Day workday is also scheduled for this Saturday, June 4 2005. This is an event where a bunch of people volunteer, get permission from the land owners (NCDOT and the Wildlife Resources Commission) and clear debris from the incomplete trail segments in Chatham County.

3. There's another inactive rail corridor currently up for sale by Norfolk Southern . This line starts with a loop in downtown Durham and goes 25 miles north to Timberlake in Person County. This would be a natural extension of the Tobacco Trail, for a total of 50 miles. On June 6, 2005, the City of Durham has a public hearing on their capital improvement plan, in which they will debate the city's contribution to the purchase of the corridor. Money to buy the corridor will have to come from city, county, state, and federal sources, and these folks say that unless they act soon, the line will be bought up by adjacent property owners and become worthless as a rail-trail. As aside, TTA has shown some interest in sharing part of this corridor as an extension of their rail line.

Anyway, I'll get some pictures of the trail as soon as I get a chance to check it out. Maybe at the festivities this weekend, who knows.

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My brother has been on the Wake County portion of the ATT a few times since I told him about it a while back. It is really cool, and the granite screenings presently used on that portion seems to handle bike tires pretty well.

He has some pictures he's taken--I'll try to post some of them.

One of the coolest features is the concrete tunnel thing (viaduct?) under US64. There are parking lots along the way with nice entrances and even brochures.

At his last visit, the Chatham County section was not yet opened--there is a trail there of course but it isn't "finished" or marked. The Durham County sections are great--a lot of it is paved and it traverses some interesting suburban and urban landscapes. I believe there is also an access route to South Pointe mall.

In time I suspect the ATT will encourage a line of pedestrian scale development along some of its length.

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Here's some pictures I took yesterday along the newest section of the Tobacco Trail in Wake County. Sorry for the blurriness in the center. My lens was smudged and I didn't notice. There were a fairly good number of people on it, in spite of the fact that it's only one incomplete segment of the entire trail in a remote location.

You can really tell this trail is on an old railroad alignment. It's absurdly flat and straight. Here it doesn't veer from tangent for at least a mile and a half. Almost the entire length of it is on a cut or a fill. Wish I had my bicycle with me to test it out >_<

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An old milepost installed when it actually was a railroad:

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About a mile short of the Chatham County line, the finished portion of the trail ends.

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The parking area. No running water, but they have the nicest outhouse I've ever seen.

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In time I suspect the ATT will encourage a line of pedestrian scale development along some of its length.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Interesting you should say that. I wish I took a picture of it, but there was a place where a small gravel road crosses the trail that had a Coldwell Banker sign that said "for sale - commercial property." It had no road frontage whatsoever except for the small gravel road and the tobacco trail itself. It would appear that at least one real estate agent seems to agree with you.

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On Tuesday August 4th, the Raleigh city council voted to sell $61 million in bonds, $25 million of which are park bonds approved by voters in 2000 and 2003. Here is the list of projects:

PARKS BONDS ($6 MILLION, 2000 BOND ELECTION)

* Parkland acquisition;

* Lake Johnson land acquisition;

* Poe Center;

* Horseshoe Farm Park;

* Leesville Park;

* Strickland Road Park;

* Rocky Branch

PARKS BONDS ($19.585 MILLION, 2003 BOND ELECTION)

* House Creek Greenway;

* Honeycutt Creek Greenway;

* Chavis Way Trail Extension;

* Little Rock Trail Extension to Walnut Creek;

* Walnut Creek Greenway;

* Neighborhood greenway connections;

* Neuse River Greenway from Falls River Trail to Falls Lake Dam;

* Land acquisition;

* Playground improvements;

* Building improvements;

* Outdoor security lighting improvements;

* Renovation at Mordecai Historic Park;

* Addition to gymnasium at Green Road Community Center;

* Addition to gymnasium at Lake Lynn Community Center;

* Conversion of seasonal pool to year-round use;

* Construction of Walnut Creek Interpretive Center;

* Construction of new community center at Marsh Creek Park;

* Development of various neighborhood school parks;

* Chavis Park improvements;

* New recreational facility in northwest Raleigh (Brier Creek Park);

* Development of Sanderford Road neighborhood center;

* Development of a skate park;

* Crabtree Creek Greenway;

* Development of Forest Ridge Park at Falls Lake;

* Pullen Park improvements;

* Phase 1 development of a neighborhood park in the Timberlake subdivision;

* Development of a Neuse River whitewater park

On the top of the 2003 bonds is the House Creek Greenway, whichwill link the Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek greenways. It's long been said that House Creek was the next step in the Raleigh Greenway System, and this proved to be the case when City Council selected an engineering firm, Wetherill Engineering, to do the design for the project in a seperate agenda item in the same meeting.

This will be one of the most important links in the greenway system and I can't wait for it to be done.

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* Lake Johnson land acquisition;

orulz, do you think this is the section near Lake Dam Rd that is threatened by development? (up the hill from the dam towards I-40 and across from the aptmts.)

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Seems likely to me, although I don't know for sure. According to Google Maps, there's another big chunk of land available for development on Avent Ferry Road between the lake and I-40.

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Great topic!! I'm freaking obsessed with greenways. I wish I had taken pics of my recent Morganton/Salisbury trips...Morganton has a great greenway that parallels the Catawba River. I'll try to find some online.

Lake Johnson greenways are probably one of my favorites in Raleigh.

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Check out this month-old article from the N&O about the American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40. Evidently they had a design ready to go a couple years ago, but then they caught wind of the fancy brige over 440 in Raleigh and decided to make theirs nifty as well. At present, they have a design- plus $1.8 million of the $2 million needed to build it. So, that means that the bridge is just about ready to go. However, they also need to build about 3/4 mile of trail to fill in some gaps on either end of the bridge. They don't have the money together for that just yet, so the bridge is probably still a couple years off.

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Side note-- did anyone else see Jon Stewart slam the American Tobacco trail the other night on the Daily Show? The project got 1.6 mil in the recent federal transportation bill.

I think his comment was "Starts with slavery and ends in cancer"

Ouch!

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So I am assuming the house creek greenway will go from around Crabtree valley mall to the art museum trail. Is this correct? Does anyone know when this is expected to be completed?

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So I am assuming the house creek greenway will go from around Crabtree valley mall to the art museum trail.  Is this correct?  Does anyone know when this is expected to be completed?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's correct. It runs from the Art Museum to the Crabtree Creek Greenway right next to the McDonald's on Blue Ridge Road.

There's no schedule as for when it will be completed, but building greenways doesn't take too long once funding is in place. At the moment, though, they're probably just starting the design process so expect it to take at least a year.

I hope this trail is mostly grade separated (like Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek). Grade crossings on grenways suck - you have to stop your bike (which is a huge waste of energy) and then wait for an opening in traffic (which is dangerous, and a waste of time.)

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Biked around Raleigh this weekend. I checked out the progress (or rather, lack of progress) on Middle Crabtree Trail, which is the eastward extension of the Crabtree Creek greenway from its current terminus just west of Six Forks to Capital Boulevard, where it will link with an existing trail. There are a bunch of places where they have abutments in place for bridges but no trusses. There are some short segments that have already been paved, but mostly it's a graded tracks with no asphalt.

I think I read that there was some unforseen problem with the soil instability that's holding this project up.

Phase II of the NCSU Rocky Branch greenway project is underway, too, by the NCSU track, under Pullen Drive, and into Pullen Park. I don't know when it's supposed to be done, but it looks like they have a lot of earth left to move. Oh, and engineering design for the House Creek greenway is underway. That trail will run from Reedy Creek greenway at the Beltline bridge to Crabtree Creek at the mall. If only they'd do a better job linking Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch together, then that'd be a really useful trail! We'd have stress-free biking from NCSU to the mall and beyond.

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Fall is a great time for biking as it is nice and cool out and especially nice when the trees are turning all hues of different colors.

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Biked around Raleigh this weekend. I checked out the progress (or rather, lack of progress) on Middle Crabtree Trail, which is the eastward extension of the Crabtree Creek greenway from its current terminus just west of Six Forks to Capital Boulevard, where it will link with an existing trail. There are a bunch of places where they have abutments in place for bridges but no trusses. There are some short segments that have already been paved, but mostly it's a graded tracks with no asphalt.

....

If only they'd do a better job linking Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch together, then that'd be a really useful trail! We'd have stress-free biking from NCSU to the mall and beyond.

The trail seems to be open passing along the creek under Wake Forest Road (where I picked it up), but then "dies" when it approaches Atlantic from both sides. On the west side it looks like it could go below Atlantic, but is easy (necessary) to get to street level as it is now. I didn't try the east side of Atlantic, biking on hoges instead, which is low traffic. The trail stays north of the creek and goes under Capital, but entry is blocked off there near the old pontiac dealership. I went under capital on it from Yonkers road and then crossed the creek on Capital -- not for the faint of heart! From capital it looks like a the trail isn't touched on the east of capital side, but a bridge through a lake jutting west of Raleigh Blvd. is done but blocked off.

There seems to be *no* north/south walking friendly area anywhere near the Capital Blvd corridor just inside the beltline. At the train crossing just north of Crabtree Blvd, there is *no* sidewalk/whatever -- I had to jump the tracks through the Adult Superstore parking lot! There might be a way to cross on the west side by the snapple warehouse, but I haven't explored back there. The only other routes are Raleigh blvd, which is out of the way, and atlantic, which is quite pedestrian unfriendly itself from the railroad bridge north.

Capital is walkable/bikable from the Wake Forest intersection south, but getting through it on north capital blvd is dicey to say the least. Capital has no residential component, but it would be nice to have alternate options!

For the other trail, I used to bike every other month or so from NCSU to Crabtree Valley Mall. It wasn't 100% stress free, but was an ok ride Hillsborough to Dixie to Lake Boone to Ridge Road to Glen Eden through a park at Glen Eden west of 440 to Blue Ridge to Homewood Banks and the bridge to Belk.

The most stressful areas were crossing Wade, along Blue Ridge's curves going into the valley, and the big hill on Glen Eden, but was still a fun ride. Dixie was four lanes from Wade to Lake Boone, but is now two wide lanes with a center turn lane.

It should be warm this week, and hopefully that will carry over into the weekend!

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I'd say that Atlantic Avenue is actually the most bikeable "spoke" road into north Raleigh. The fact that it it doesn't interchange with the beltline means that there's relatively little commercial development. It's mostly light industrial, so it's usually not bad at all.

I've never tried Capital or Wake Forest north of the Beltline - and I never intend to. I imagine Wake Forest in particular is a death trap for cyclists due to the horrible nine-foot lanes. It's the same thing as avoiding Super Wal-Marts on a bike. I just don't want to die.

Six forks OTB might be OK for a really experienced cyclist, but I've only been at this for a year or two and I'm not quite ready for it yet.

Interestingly, any of these roads are no sweat ITB (except Capital... freeway plus bicycle equals bad.) Even more interestingly, you don't even have to worry about that since there are plenty of options available, thanks to the greenway trails and parallel secondary routes (Anderson, Ridge, Lassiter Mill, Whitaker Mill, etc) When you're on a bike, inside the beltline and outside the beltline are like completely different worlds. In N. Raleigh, you're constantly under assault from all angles, but in town it's just easy. I guess there are two reasons: first, the beltline carries a lot of the traffic that would otherwise be on the the in-town thoroughfares and collectors; second, interconnection is worlds better in the older parts of town. Biking on the grid downtown is wonderful.

Just about anywhere in Cary it's the same. The roads are all new enough to have wide outside lanes and the town is pretty strict about curb cuts so you can get around and feel safe enough. But it's far from stress-free riding, since you're stuck on the main thoroughfares, which are sometimes 6 or 8 lanes wide. There are too many cul-de-sacs and not enough low-traffic, lower-speed parallel routes to work with.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are built for bikes. Roads seldom have more than two lanes and are often congested. Parking is scarce (for cars). On-road bike lanes are plentiful, as are off-road shortcuts through neighborhoods that are open to bikes but off-limits to cars. Biking can actually be time-competitive with driving within a pretty large area, so it's great.

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Biked around Raleigh this weekend. I checked out the progress (or rather, lack of progress) on Middle Crabtree Trail, which is the eastward extension of the Crabtree Creek greenway from its current terminus just west of Six Forks to Capital Boulevard, where it will link with an existing trail. There are a bunch of places where they have abutments in place for bridges but no trusses. There are some short segments that have already been paved, but mostly it's a graded tracks with no asphalt.

I think I read that there was some unforseen problem with the soil instability that's holding this project up.

Phase II of the NCSU Rocky Branch greenway project is underway, too, by the NCSU track, under Pullen Drive, and into Pullen Park. I don't know when it's supposed to be done, but it looks like they have a lot of earth left to move. Oh, and engineering design for the House Creek greenway is underway. That trail will run from Reedy Creek greenway at the Beltline bridge to Crabtree Creek at the mall. If only they'd do a better job linking Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch together, then that'd be a really useful trail! We'd have stress-free biking from NCSU to the mall and beyond.

Wow. Raleigh's green ways are incredible. How does it compare to other systems in the US?

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I'm not sure how Raleigh's greenway trails would rank on a national scale, but they are certainly more extensive than anywhere else in the state.

They're all wonderful for going for a walk or a bike ride, but most of the trails aren't all that useful for walking or riding your bike to GET somewhere. A prime example is the trail on the Museum of Art campus. It's a great link that could be really useful, but it's so crooked and hilly (intentionally so, I believe) that it's almost useless from a transportation standpoint. There are some greenway corridors that fill a genuine transportation need ( Crabtree Creek, Rocky Branch, etc). The trails follow creeks and streams deep into residential districts or through industrial areas, but for the most part, these creeks don't really lead where people want or need to go.

This showcases a regional mentality that the only reason for biking or walking is excercise. Many (most?) folks wouldn't consider a bicycle to be a serious means of transportation. If you're just going for a walk, it doesn't really matter where you go - so a secluded, forested creek may be very desirable. But if you actually want go somewhere, the only option is an automobile. As a result, Raleigh has a wonderful, expanding greenway system that doesn't always go anywhere, but the city's sidewalks are pathetic outside of the immediate downtown area.

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Visited NCSU's campus this weekend and it looks like Phase II of the Rocky Branch Greenway is progressing nicely. The trail hasn't been paved yet, but it extends from Morrill Drive under Pullen Road into Pullen Park. The connection to the park itself hasn't been built yet; I assume that will be part of the $2m improvement program. Phase III of Rocky Branch Greenway is a quarter-mile stretch between Dan Allen and Morrill. They will tear up a big chunk of the Carmichael Gym parking lot to daylight the creek where it's in a culvert now. I wonder when they will build it, and whether they will put arch culverts similar to the one on Pullen at Morrill and Dan Allen as well.

In other greenway news, the Middle Crabtree Trail saga continues. This important link between the Crabtree Creek greenway and the Buckeye Trail corridor has been mired for months (years?) due to disputes with the contractor. Several bridges, and the underpass under Atlantic Avenue, are the sticking points. Most of the trail will probably be open soon, but accofding to the city, the Atlantic Avenue underpass may not be completed for a long time yet.

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For phase 3, it will be interesting to see if they tear up the parking lot, or the intramural fields... The creek is pretty open now for half that stretch -- between the intramural fields and the tennis couts, and then further east behind the health center -- but they need to do some serious work to put a greenway through there. There is/was a tunnel under Morril to get from the gym to Paul Derr track, but it is not near the creek.

The Crabtree trail thing sucks too... i was hoping it would be ready by the time it was warm enough to ride my bike out that way again, but progress there has always been slow.

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I noticed some lighting beiong placed on the museum bridge over I-440. I think that they have been working on this for the past week. As far as I can tell, the lighting appears to be limited to the faux stone supports. I hope that the actual archways get lit up too.

JB

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I noticed some lighting beiong placed on the museum bridge over I-440. I think that they have been working on this for the past week. As far as I can tell, the lighting appears to be limited to the faux stone supports. I hope that the actual archways get lit up too.

JB

I have also noticed work people around the base for the last week. The tops of the archways should have lights. It really needs something as it is a black hole in the sky when driving at night.

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