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Justin6882

Devereaux Meadows redevelopment/riverwalk concept

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I'm not sure who was watching the WRAL 11:00 news last night, but they did a story about Raleigh wanting to put a riverwalk off of Capital Blvd. with shops and restaurants around it. They would do it, apparently, by widening an existing creek. Obviously if this goes through it would be a neat addition, but I question the environmental impact this could have.

Anyway, its good to see our leaders thinking about cool new stuff for downtown!

If I find a link to the story, I'll post it, but a quick scan of their website this morning didn't turn up much.

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I caught that on WRAL last night. It would be close enough to Glenwood south for the two to complement each other in an area very visible from Capital Blvd. (who remembers when it was Downtown Blvd?). As far as environmental impact, I can

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^ I remember when Capital Blvd was Downtown Blvd and North Blvd :D

I think this is a cool idea, and though I'm sure it is pricey, it would go a long way to beautify that area. Maybe these efforts combined with North Blount St will help Capital Blvd a bit--it has a great deal of potential as a "gateway" into downtown.

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From a stream/environmental restoration standpoint (my area of 'expertise'), if this is what the city has in mind, this would be a very expensive project. From a land acquisition standpoint, this would also be a very tough project to implement, and frankly, I'm not sure that a 'river walk'-type development would really mesh well with the city.

Pigeon House Branch is one of the most polluted streams in the state. Its salinity is typically higher than seawater (>40ppt). Its headwaters are up in Cameron Village-you can catch a brief glimpse of daylighted portion of the stream where the right lane forks right off Peace St. by the Raleigh Apartments (splotchy white brick buildings by Broughton High). It flows south, then doglegs east through the Glenwood South area where it is either culverted entirely underground or daylighted in a concrete flume channel. It then towards back towards the north where it is left to 'naturalize' just east of N. West St. (where the city appears to have a bunch of facility-type buildings). It winds to the north, criss-crossing underneath Capital Blvd. before its confluence with Crabtree Creek in the vicinity of Yonkers Road. It's a nasty creek. There is very little, if any, wildlife utilization of the channel. Which is no mystery, considering the fact that it's half underground throughout its length, not to mention the percentage of impervious surface cover in its watershed, and all the untreated stormwater runoff it receives.

I guess where they'd want to do the 'river walk' is on the portion just north of Peace St. This would entail lots and lots of headaches with land acquisition, and depending on how long of a reach of the channel the city wanted to restore, costs would be in the millions of dollars, and would certainly provide very little benefit in terms of water quality, habitat, etc.

What they ought to do is remove Capital Boulevard and restore several thousand linear feet, while reconnecting the roads from Five Points to downtown :)

[edit: the NCDWQ (division of water quality) would not allow the creek to be 'widened.' if anything, they'd issue a permit to restore the channel concurrently with the army corps of engineers. typically, streams are substantially widened and deepened in urban scenarios to 'allow more capacity to prevent flooding.' what ends up happening is that the stream loses its competence to move sediment, and gradually fills in, effectively raising flood stage, not lowering it. what would happen with Pigeon House Branch is that the channel itself would actually be decreased in cross-sectional area, and a floodplain would be excavated adjacent to the channel (perhaps what WRAL meant by 'widening'). okay, i'll stop now!]

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Aside from the river(creek?)side development, how different in scale would this project be from the Rocky Branch Restoration? Rocky Branch was once named "the most polluted urban stream in the state" but back in 2002/3, NCSU spent millions of dollars from a federal grant in conjunction with money from the city, state, and its own facilities budget to reconstruct the floodplain and restore part of the creek between Gorman and Dan Allen to a more natural state. Next up is the segment from Dan Allen to Pullen, which will involve daylighting something like 250 feet of the stream that has been culverted for decades. I hear this project will happen in conjunction with the next to Carmichael Gym.

North Creek, which flows into Lake Raleigh on Centennial Campus, has also been restored from the point it leaves its culvert, and both those creeks seem to be doing a good deal better than before. Actually I kind of think that a river entertainment/recreation district could work very well on Centennial Campus, near or on the north shore of Lake Raleigh. It might be an environmental disaster, which should be avoided at all costs, but conceptually I think it could work great.

captitalpts: since it's your specialty, is there anywhere online that one can find a map of all the streams, creeks, watersheds, and floodplains in the Raleigh area? It'd be interesting to see. The average person probably wouldn't know it, but there are a huge number of streams that have been culverted and essentially turned into storm sewers beneath our feet. It would be nice to see where the creeks once were and maybe will be again.

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It would be nice to see where the creeks once were and maybe will be again.

Basically at the bottom of most hills in town :) See those curb inlets? Those are where the streams were/are. And this is in Raleigh, a relatively green city, and actually Raleigh has been pretty good, even historically, at leaving open space along streams outside of the immediate downtown vicinity in areas (e.g. the East and West Prongs of Beaverdam Creek off Wade Ave. along those rolling hills). Hundreds of miles of streams are buried in larger cities, this work having been performed before tougher federal/state laws. [a side note: on a state-level basis, NC is recognized nationally for its water quality standards and state enforcement/guidelines concerning wetland and stream/riparian buffer impacts, something for us to be proud of-this is a green state despite this troublesome sprawl we all lament].

As far as online resources, Wake County GIS would be a good start-probably accessible off the county web page-a quick google would do. I'm not the computer techie, but the best place to look for streams in the area is USGS mapping. These may or may not be available online...again, I let the drafters handle that (lucky for me!). Inexpensive hard copies are available in a few places-Duncan Parnell on Glenwood and in the basement of the Archdale building via the NCGS map shop down there near the snack bar, to name a few. Look for the "West Raleigh" quad.

Pigeon House Branch and Cemetary Branch (through Oakwood and the cemetary, surprise) drain most of the northern portions of downtown. The confluence of Pigeon House and Cemetary are right near the Foxy Lady on Capital Blvd. :whistling: Rocky Branch, which drains the southern portions of downtown (flowing through NCSU as orulz mentioned and downstream along Western Boulevard) eventually flows into Walnut Creek.

In the environmental biz, feelings are mixed as far as how the Rocky Branch stream restoration is perceived. I know the designer, and the designer is very capable and knowledgeable. I personally think the job looks pretty good, but there are plenty of critics. The bulk of the criticism stems from how expensive, on a $/linear ft. of channel restored, the project was/is. This is not representative of a 'good' restoration site for several reasons, I'll get into those if people are interested, but it had one thing going for it, despite its practical difficulties-all the land adjacent to it was held by one landowner (a BIG advantage), NCSU, which probably had a fine accounting of prior land use, including any hot spots, such as hazardous material disposal sites near the channel, etc.

Without knowing, from what appears to be the case, land ownership adjacent to Pigeon House is much more 'checkerboarded.' The city owns some (the maintenance shop there off N. West St.), but clearly there are other private entities downstream. To restore any worthwhile length (and with urban restorations, costs/linear ft. skyrocket), all landowners would have to be on the same page and be willing to cede conservation easements along the restored area. If you're a farmer in the middle of nowhere, this usually isn't a problem; however, this is a) very expensive land, and B) I would wager that, without having looked closely, structures/used paved areas are immediately adjacent to the channel. Selling off an easement would probably entail selling a sizable, important portion of these folks' properties. The bottom land is that restoration costs for pigeon house, on such a short stretch of channel, could be astronomical. The city would have to pay-I would doubt they'd see much in the way of Clean Water Management Trust Fund grant $ and the like for such a small and relatively unimportant (for water quality's sake) project.

apologies for the epic post!

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... The bulk of the criticism stems from how expensive, on a $/linear ft. of channel restored, the project was/is.  This is not representative of a 'good' restoration site for several reasons, I'll get into those if people are interested ...

... apologies for the epic post!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Please go into as much detail as you can/want. This is great stuff. Environmental issues are a HUGE factor in the whole city planning and development process, and I daresay that most people here, myself included, don't understand nearly enough about it. Anyone who's ever watched the planning commission on Government Access TV will tell you that at least half of what they talk about is on-site stormwater retention, drainage easements, and floodplain issues.

I would be very interested to hear how a project like the Rocky Branch Restoration could be undertaken effectively on a lower budget.

I'm sure that what's been done so far ain't perfect, but it looks a good deal better than before, at least from the persepctive of an uninformed passerby. I hear that they were very careful at only allowing native species in the vicinity of the creek, and the trees that they planted (and some "volunteers" too - heh) are already beginning to replace the canopy that was removed to make room for the restoration. 20 years from now I think it will be quite a sight to see.

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I think its a great idea. Everyone is drawn to water. A number of NC cities are also planning "downtown rivers". I've heard of one proposal of building one in Winston-Salem that would link up to the downtown research park. Greensboro has a mile long water way planned for its downtown Greenway. Raleigh could reaaly stand out if the "river" could have boat rides touring people through the downtown area. As far as I know, the ones planned for Greensboro and Winston-Salem are for landscape purposes only.

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I think its a great idea. Everyone is drawn to water. A number of NC cities are also planning "downtown rivers". I've heard of one proposal of building one in Winston-Salem that would link up to the downtown research park. Greensboro has a mile long water way planned for its downtown Greenway. Raleigh could reaaly stand out if the "river" could have boat rides touring people through the downtown area. As far as I know, the ones planned for Greensboro and Winston-Salem are for landscape purposes only.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The city here in NC that has the most untapped potential with its rivers is Asheville, hands down. The French Broad is impressive - it's 100 yards from bank to bank through much of Asheville. Back in the 1800s, before the railroad came to town, the Army Corps of Engineers even dredged and blasted a channel so that steam-powered riverboats (like what you see on the Mississippi, only smaller) could navigate the river. It was a short-lived plan and a major flood wiped out all the work, but it just goes to show that it ain't no dinky creek. But centuries of dis/misuse have made the area around the river a very unpleasant place to be. There's basically nothing there but derelict sheds, rusty steel-sided warehouses, and auto junkyards. The city government along with countless nonprofits have been trying for decades to realize the river's potential, but there's so much mess to clean up that it's hard to even know where to start. Over the past ten years, they've gone so far as to build a park, but other than that the French Broad River is not a pleasant place to be at all.

The Swannanoa, the poor Swannanoa, has it even worse off. It's not as big as the French Broad, but it's still big enough to earn the title "River" - it's more significant than anything we have here in Raleigh. It runs through the very heart of Biltmore Village - a popular, walkable, and attractive little district, so you can imagine the potential that it holds, but instead we continue to use it as a toilet to flush the filth away from our streets and industries. Wal-Mart, curse them, practically built their Wal-Mart supercenter (complete with four billion acre parking lot) RIGHT ON TOP OF IT. I can't believe that city council ended up laying down and letting the sweet-talking greedy slimeballs from Bentonville talk them into allowing such an atrocity. Elsewhere, further to the east, the city is building a park along Azalea Rd. with greenways and other nice amenities, but that's only one segment - they're well short of realizing even a fraction of the potential that this river holds.

While it is true that Asheville isn't as fiscally well off as Charlotte or any city in the Triad or Triangle, if they do have enough money to build another, brand new parking deck (of dubious necessity) near the civic center, there should be enough to do a better job rescuing the rivers from their sad plight.

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LOL flash, I was going to post that my new photography goal was to capture a Raleigh skyline with a water element in front; whether it required a really low angle, smoke, mirrors, magic or whatever. That is awesome though (btw, is the "water" the roof of that building near Hargett and Boylan?)

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Actually it was just a photoshop!

From the banks of the Raleigh River:

raleighriver5.jpg

From the Raleigh Riverwalk:

raleighriver2.jpg

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Excellent! Those photos really change Raleigh's look. I can almost see some riverboats.

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WOW!!! I never knew a large body of water existed that close to downtown Raleigh! Its a pleasant surprise to see that! They really should build canals going through the downtown area for tour boats!

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I've been to Raleigh many many times and I've never knew about Raleigh Lake/river walk... Man it would be great if they could get some developers to build some nice highrises around there... you gotta love that view!

This river walk/entertainment area... would be a great boost to the city!

But instead of redoing and spending billizion $$$'s on a bad off stream... why not redevelope this area?

If you've ever been to dt Miami or Jacksonville and the entertainment districts they have water side... I could really see something of that nature here

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I checked out the source webpage for those pictures (http://raleighskyline.com) and I found more amazinging photos, including some with a proposed tower for Raleigh that was never built. Instead, a sprawling campus like establishment was built miles outside south of downtown.

The renderings are amazing to say the least. They look so real. Good Job matt. That tower would have looked great with a river in the foreground.

54.jpg

south3.jpg

ralr.jpg

raleighren.jpg

southcolor.jpg

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The reason you never knew about such a body of water is quite simply that it doesn't exist. That photo is a (very skillful) photoshopped picture taken from the Boylan Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks in which the entire warehouse district has been inundated. The creek that WRAL is talking about is just a minor tributary of Crabtree Creek. It might be nice to have some shops or restaurants along a greenway path or something, but it won't amount to anything more than that. If this thing ever happens, even a kayak probably won't be able to float on it.

If Raleigh wanted to do something bigger, they'd have to use the Neuse River, or maybe even Crabtree Creek. But downtown has a LOT of growing to do before it reaches Crabtree, much less the Neuse.

Oh, and regarding FCB: they're moving their headquarters to North Hills, aren't they?

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I was so amazed by the photo, I didnt read where it said it was draw with photo SHop. Thats a great job because it fooled me!

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I was so amazed by the photo, I didnt read where it said it was draw with photo SHop. Thats a great job because it fooled me!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree, it's pretty amazing.

But as I was saying before, Asheville actually could build something pretty much like that along the French Broad... but for all the proposals and talk, and in spite of RiverLink's efforts, nobody really seems to be taking it seriously. A real shame.

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I would be very interested to hear how a project like the Rocky Branch Restoration could be undertaken effectively on a lower budget.

I'm sure that what's been done so far ain't perfect, but it looks a good deal better than before, at least from the persepctive of an uninformed passerby. I hear that they were very careful at only allowing native species in the vicinity of the creek, and the trees that they planted (and some "volunteers" too - heh) are already beginning to replace the canopy that was removed to make room for the restoration. 20 years from now I think it will be quite a sight to see.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Reasons for Rocky Branch (and other similar urban stream restorations) being expensive relative to rural projects:

1. Limited lateral space to work with to reconfigure the channel's new location leading to a high slope, relatively straight channel-in rural scenarios, there is typical much more space to meander the designed stream, thereby dissipating slope with distance. Also, in many rural restorations, an incised channel (one that has cut deeply into its bed effectively restricting its floodplain access except in very high flow storm events (25, 50-year storms) is typically put 'back on the floodplain,' meaning that the old, incised channel is abandoned and a new, smaller, 'shallower' channel is designed adjacent to it so that floodwaters are dispersed onto the floodplain (the way it should be). With Rocky Branch, the channel only has, at best, a 50-ft. or so wide floodplain, which isn't much room to put a channel. Therefore, in order to dissipate the higher slopes associated with shorter channels, several grade control structures (boulder vanes) are constructed to hold channel grade (or so the theory goes). These things are $$$.

2. Related to the above, due to often highly impervious watersheds, stormwater inputs into urban channels are huge. Since there is much less groundwater infiltration vs. the case in rural scenarios, storwater flows into urban channels are high-energy and often erosive, further underscoring the need for frequent, expensive grade control structures. Furthermore, stormwater BMP's (best management practice) are often constructed adjacent to and offline restored urban streams. These generally consist of small constructed wetlands, retention areas, etc. (I'm not a BMP expert, I leave that to the engineers).

3. Land is just plain more expensive in the city. When restorations are done for the state, restored areas are placed under conservation easements. These cost $.

4. Site access is generally much more restrictive in the city. This has all kinds of ramifications for the contractor. For instance, finding temporary stockpile areas, construction accesses, and othe various/sundry things are tougher. On the farm, Farmer Bob has a wide open pasture where it's safe and easy (generally) to move heavy equipment. Often in town, these channels are several feet below grade, and may require special equipment. This, plus the additional costs that special considerations always impose, drive up urban restoration costs.

So basically, in town, less overall channel linear footage restored + expensive in-stream structures + expensive contractor fees account for why urban restorations are so much more expensive than rural ones on a $/linear ft. basis.

As far as vegetation goes, specifying only native vegetation is what I, and everyone else, generally does. A good deal of the trees/shrubs/herbs people landscape with are exotic.

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Hey, I can dream, can't I?

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those renderings do look nice. the "river" makes the skyline look even more important.

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What they ought to do is remove Capital Boulevard and restore several thousand linear feet, while reconnecting the roads from Five Points to downtown :)

I thought I was the only person who had this idea.

I have also been a lurker for awhile, but seeing someone else with this idea finally got me to register. I have gone so far as to take Ann Cabell's maps and hand draw phased connections of Capitals removal, starting with a reconfiguration to Peace street and then finally taking it all the way to Wade and Fairview with West street, Johnson, Harrington, Williamson and even Halifax getting some attention. Anyway, I enjoy everyone's thoughts and interest in downtown.

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What they ought to do is remove Capital Boulevard and restore several thousand linear feet, while reconnecting the roads from Five Points to downtown :)

I thought I was the only person who had this idea.

I have also been a lurker for awhile, but seeing someone else with this idea finally got me to register. I have gone so far as to take Ann Cabell's maps and hand draw phased  connections of Capitals removal, starting with a reconfiguration to Peace street and then finally taking it all the way to Wade and Fairview with West street, Johnson, Harrington, Williamson and even Halifax getting some attention. Anyway, I enjoy everyone's thoughts and interest in downtown.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'd love to see those maps if you have any way of digitizing them.

This is my question to you or anyone else who wants to remove the Capital Blvd freeway for the sake of connectivity: how do you propose to deal with the railroads? There are two lines and two major freight yards, one on either side of Capital Blvd, and they're both owned by different companies. First off, the railroads aren't going to disappear. CSX and NS won't allow more grade crossings to be built since that's a liability. Not to mention that adding crossings would fly in the face of NC's "Sealed Corridors" initiative to close grade crossings wherever possible. Trenching the tracks would be incredibly expensive (see example: Reno, NV) while elevating them would be costly, create a physical barrier, and contribute to visual blight.

Basically what I'm saying is that the railroads completely cut off Capital Blvd from its surroundings. I have to wonder if putting a friendlier face on that corridor is even possible.

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