First 8 miles of paved Neuse Greenway to open this summer

For years, Raleigh’s Neuse River Greenway consisted of a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of dirt trail from Old Milburnie Road just above U.S. 64 downstream to Anderson Point. Raleigh’s greenway master plan called for paved greenway running from just below the Falls Lake dam to the Johnston County line, and the topic would occasionally come up in greenway discussions, but it wasn’t a priority with the city.

In 2008, though, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker decided it should be. And, he said, we should get it done in four years — an ambitious deadline for a 28-mile, $30 million greenway project that would require seven pedestrian bridges crossing the Neuse River and numerous more over smaller tributaries.  This summer, says Raleigh Senior Greenway Planner Vic Lebsock, the first 8-mile stretch of the Neuse River Greenway should open.

“It should open late June or early July,” says Lebsock of the northernmost stretch of the greenway, which will run from the Falls Lake dam downstream to the WRAL Soccer Complex near Louisburg Road.

This stretch — 7.9 miles in length, actually — will require seven bridges, none over the Neuse. It will be the longest stretch of single greenway ever opened at one time in the Triangle. The project is being funded, in part, by federal stimulus money.

Additionally, Lebsock says, the city expects to award bids in about 60 days for another 20 miles of the greenway, from just below the WRAL Soccer Complex and Horseshoe Farm Park to the Johnston County line. Portions of that stretch could open by mid 2012; the entire 20 miles could be done by early 2013. That would leave a three-quarter-mile stretch of the greenway, at Horseshoe Farm Park. Lebsock says they had to tinker with the design of that stretch, but that it should go out to bid this year and be completed in 2013. That’s a little past Meeker’s 2012 goal.

Significant as the 28-mile Neuse Greenway is in its own right, it becomes more so considering another stretch of Raleigh greenway scheduled to be bid this fall. Currently, the Crabtree Creek Trail Greenway runs 11.7 miles, from near Duraleigh Road not far from Umstead State Park down Crabtree Creek to Milburnie Road. The 4-mile stretch of greenway going to bid this fall would continue Crabtree Creek Trail downstream to the Neuse River — connecting into the 28-mile Neuse River Greenway.

Quick math — the 11.7-mile Crabtree Trail plus the 28-mile Neuse River Greenway — would suggest that’s 39.7 miles of connected greenway. But that’s not including the six miles of greenway the heads north from Crabtree Trail past Shelley Lake. And if you were here yesterday, you learned that that stretch will be extended another six miles north, to Falls Lake, next year with construction of the Honeycutt Creek Greenway (that gets us up to 45 miles). And, again had you been here yesterday, you would have discovered that the 2.9-mile House Creek Greenway is now under construction and should open by year’s end (48.6 miles). That greenway will link the Crabtree Creek Trail with the Reedy Creek Greenway, which is part of an additional 24 miles of Raleigh greenway (72.6 miles). Reedy Creek also connects with the 5-mile bike & bridle trail in Umstead State Park (77.6 miles), which connects with the 6-mile — and growing — Black Creek Greenway in Cary.

By my cyphering, that’s a total of 83.6 miles of connected greenway. To keep my head from exploding I’ll forgo, for right now, mentioning that Cary is in the process of finishing a link of the Black Creek Greenway, which runs into Fred Bond Park where it connects with the White Oak Creek Greenway, which will eventually connect with the 22-mile American Tobacco Trail.

In short, in two years, the Triangle should have more than 100 miles of interconnected greenway.

Photo: In the beginning (and at present), the Neuse River Greenway consisted of a 3.5-mile stretch of natural surface path running upstream from Anderson Point.

10 thoughts on “First 8 miles of paved Neuse Greenway to open this summer”

  1. That Falls stretch is going to be awesome when it’s done. Your post inspired me to ride the existing, unpaved section for the first time today. It was a little rough for my non-mountain bike at the northern end, but I can see how a nice, long, paved trail along the river will make for a great ride. And when some bridges are made over Crabtree to get out of Anderson Point, that will be a huge improvement as well. The park is beautiful, but leaves you with nowhere to go, sandwiched between the river, the creek, and 64 Express. Getting out involved either backtracking (and violating my “been there, done that” rule of day tripping) or choosing from a variety of very unfriendly road options (I ended up coming into town on Poole, not for the squeamish). Those connectors can’t come soon enough.
    But even that northern stretch should have some benefit. I road up to the damn last weekend, and, at the risk of being fined (http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/state-engineer-files-complaint-against-group-that-challenged-traffic-study/), I have to say that there needs to be a better way to get there by bike, so I hope to hop on that stretch of greenway as soon as it’s done. Thanks for the update.

  2. Thanks for the reports on the Greenways. I’m REALLY looking forward to the Falls Lake Trail!

    Since you seem to discuss our area’s greenways more than anybody else, I thought I might pitch in some of my own thoughts.

    IMO the criteria for whether a greenway is “good enough” or not is whether I would feel safe taking a young child for a bike ride. That means that there should be safe ways to cross every street. For two-lane neighborhood streets, a “zebra stripe” crosswalk is enough, but for major streets, especially those with four lanes, that means, ideally, going under the road at an existing bridge or using a purpose-built tunnel, but at minimum a button-activated crossing signal that stops traffic.

    Here are several spots that I’m familiar with where even as an adult I felt somewhat unsafe, and wouldn’t even consider taking a child there.

    1. Black Creek Greenway at NW Maynard. This is a four-lane road and there’s not even so much as a crosswalk. This was originally supposed to be a tunnel but that got canceled at some point. There was some talk of installing a pushbutton crosswalk but even that seems to be on hold now. I guess Cary decided to prioritize adding mileage over making this sort of improvement.

    2. Walnut Creek Greenway at Gorman Street. There is a crosswalk and visibility is good, but traffic can be heavy at times, making it hard to find a gap.

    3. Crabtree Creek Greenway at Anderson Drive. Traffic tends to move quickly on Anderson after just coming off of Six Forks. Plus there’s a bridge already there, so I’d like to see the trail go under it.

  3. But just to reiterate so I don’t sound like an ingrate, I love the greenways we do have. I find the network to be incredible, and am very happy that it is growing! My daughter is only six weeks old now so we have a few years to go before she’s out on the greenways with me so hopefully we can get some of these resolved before then.

  4. I agree on all of those intersections. Especially the Maynard crossing in Cary. I just experianced it today. At first I was so impressed when I saw a sign at the greenway split that told me which fork would take me to Lake Crabtree. Just a little bit further I was on Maynard unsure of which way to go. Once I got far enough down the sidewalk to read the sign for the next Greenway trailhead, it was clear that I was on the wrong side of the road and that there was no clear way to cross. Also there’s a great school crossing crosswalk that only goes halfway accross the street and ends at shrubs that are planted in the median. That gets my award for worst greenway crossing, but Raleigh takes the cake when it comes to bad signage.

    1. Rob, come back tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 15) and I’ll dispel your notion about Raleigh having the worst signage. (Yes, another one of those dread cliff-hangers!)

  5. …………..I pulled over on the greenway and stared at the sign puzzled. Puzzled by its mere existence..For years the Triangle s greenways consisted of strings of half-mile and mile-long bits of elbow macaroni scattered about.

  6. OK! Know that it’s not suppose to be open till September but where’s the trailhead of Falls of Neuse. Could not locate it.

    1. The simplest place to catch it would be the canoe access parking area off Falls of Neuse Road at the base of the dam. There’s a new access road on the east of Falls of Neuse about 30-40 feet downstream from the bridge. That stretch should be paved by now.

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