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I've found that I really liking the greenway system in Raleigh. It's pretty big already, but not big enough - so it's growing at a pretty rapid pace. I'm interested how this relatively new concept in parks and public space is being addressed in other cities in NC.

Raleigh is really serious about greenways, and as the network fills out it's getting more and more important not only as a park, but also as a mode of transportation. Lots of these trails are grade separated at major road crossings, so they're safe (parents might even feel safe letting a middle schooler ride to school), quick, and pleasant ways for people to get around.

The next segment due for completion around the end of March is the Reedy Creek Greenway - which will include an impressive three-segment 660 foot steel arch bridge over I-440. It will connect up to a network of trails on the campus of the North Carolina Museum of Art, and there will eventually be connections to Umstead State Park, Crabtree Valley Mall, and the Crabtree Creek Greenway.

I ride my bicycle on the Rocky Branch Greenway every day as I commute to NC State University. There is a planned and funded extension through NCSU's campus which, will link through from the east side of campus to the west, and provide a corridor all the way into downtown. There are trails on Centennial Campus which will eventually be linked with Raleigh's network as well.

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Here's a link to a map wake greenways


The city owns 44 miles of currently active greenway, but that's only part of the story. The new Reedy Creek greenway coming on line in a month or so from isn't even listed on that map ;) The greenways on NCSU's campus - the Rocky Branch greenway by Sullivan Dr., and the trails on Centennial Campus aren't counted either. There's also the network of trails in Umstead, as well as the greenways in RTP and Cary.

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Speaking of greenways, this reminds me of another thing I found and bookmarked a while back--NCRT, North Carolina Rail-Trails: http://www.ncrail-trails.org/DEPOT.HTM

It is a program that acquires abandoned rail corridors and preserves them. They often end up paving them and doing a lot of landscaping, creating a very pretty greenway that naturally winds through the center of a city. They are designed to be enjoyed by pedestrians and bikers alike.

The beauty of this is that there is a provision to turn these corridors back into rail if needed for transit in the future. If the property is just absorbed by surrounding land owners, the cost to reacquire such a central corridor would be astronomical. This link has a good explanation of the program http://www.ncrail-trails.org/WHYSAVE.HTM

The NCDOT supports programs like this because they really want to preserve as many of these abandoned corridors as they can. There are already a number of successful rail-trails in NC. Here is a list of completed or proposed rail-trail projects: http://www.ncrail-trails.org/MAPKEYS.HTM

Another more regional version of this is the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy: http://www.rtpnet.org/trtc/

They have a large photo gallery showing some of the corridors during construction into a greenway and the finished products. Check it out if you are so inclined.

This description of the American Tobacco Trail is interesting. It speaks of a rather long trail when completed, and includes a train ride if desired on the New Hope Valley Rail to Bonsal. I've been there several times and it is a fun novelty train ride. Bonsal is exceptionally small--makes Holly Springs look like a city.

As proposed, a 23+ mile multi-use trail will traverse urban, suburban, and rural landscapes in route from downtown Durham, at the site of the Durham Bulls Athletic park, to New Hill Road in western Wake County. At this terminus point, trail users will have the option to board the New Hope Valley Railway and take a train ride to the community of Bonsal.

The full text as well as a map can be found at: http://www.rtpnet.org/trtc/ATT.HTM

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I've rode many of the trails in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, & Winston. I think Raleigh is definately ahead of the others. Winston has 16 miles of developed trails, and they're planning to connect W-S and Greensboro via abandoned rail corridor, branching from the Salem Lake Trail. I really like how Winston's trails, for the most part, are connected to downtown and the Salem Creek & Salem Lake Trails are really beautiful.

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Just an update - the Reedy Creek Greenway is now set to open next week. I dropped by earlier today and one of the construction workers said it was supposed to open on the 13th. There will be an event celebrating the greenway's opening on Saturday April 16th at the NC Museum of Art.

It's true that it would be nice if the art museum were downtown. It would fit in just perfectly in that parking lot between Blount and Wilmington. But the art museum is already built, and they are certainly making the most of the wide open space that they have, with a park, trails, picnic grounds, an amphitheater/outdoor movie theater. The museum itself is an example of a subtle and well-executed modernist design in a proper setting. Overall it's a very nice place. Although it's about four miles outside of downtown, with the greenway in place you can get there without a car!

Edit: OK, so according to the newspaper it actually "opened" yesterday, but it seems there's still work left to be done before it's all complete.

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Over the past few months I've taken a number of pictures of both the Reedy Creek and Crabtree Creek greenways. Look for those in a future post.

In more Raleigh greenway news, the "linking" segment of the Rocky Branch Greenway through NCSU's campus from Dan Allen Dr. to Pullen Park is under construction. From what I understand, the greenway trail will use the existing underpass under Morril, and a less restrictive culvert and a pedestrian underpass will be constructed under Pullen Drive. Aside from two crappy links (along Pullen Rd across Western Blvd, and along Gorman St to Meridith College) there will be a trail from Wilmington St south of downtown clear to Umstead State Park, passing through the Dix campus, Pullen Park, NCSU, Meredith College, and the Art Museum along the way.

During this phase of the project, the stream will be "meandered" in order to restore it to a more natural condition. I believe there's more land to work with in some places, so maybe they'll be able to do a better job than the first phase of the project?

Read the article on NCSU's homepage.

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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:


under Glenwood Ave and Blue Ridge Rd:


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


Along Crabtree Valley Ave:


Under Edwards Mill Rd:


Around a curve:


On a bridge over the creek:


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


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.




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


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


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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