Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
Triangle voters showed once again they love their greenways and are willing to pay for them.
Bond packages in Raleigh and in Wake Forest both passed yesterday by landslide margins, providing funding for two key greenways.
- In Raleigh, 68 percent of voters approved $92 million in parks bonds that include $4.4 million for a 3-mile stretch of greenway linking the Crabtree Creek Trail with Umstead State Park.
- In Wake Forest, two-thirds of voters said yes to $4.6 million for greenway construction.
Here’s why both projects are significant:
Wandering through Old Salem, from which Winston-Salem derives its second half, I was reminded that you needn’t drive deep into the country to enjoy fall color. I was reminded, too, that while the season is always better on foot — more time to linger and enjoy — you don’t necessarily need to walk an unpaved surface.
A settlement reached earlier this week between Raleigh and the owners of a quarry along Crabtree Creek means the city can finally proceed with a 2- to 3-mile extension of the Crabtree Creek Trail into Umstead State Park. The extension will create a roughly 18-mile paved greenway along Crabtree Creek from Umstead to Raleigh’s 28-mile Neuse River Trail.
“It’s the last missing piece,” Vic Lebsock, Raleigh’s senior greenway designer, said this morning.
The Crabtree extension had been held hostage in a battle between the city and local homeowners and Hanson Aggregates, which owns the Crabtree Quarry. Local residents didn’t like the blasting required to mine the rock; Hanson had a lot more rock it wanted to mine. (Read more about the settlement here.)
The settlement ends a 20-year dispute and clears the way for design to begin on a trail that Lebsock says has its “difficult aspects.” Foremost among them: On the east end the trail will need to climb up from Crabtree Creek to avoid a stretch of land Hanson will be allowed to quarry for about another 40 years.
“We’ll need to design-in switchbacks and make the trail handicap accessible,” Lebsock says. The greenway will climb for about a quarter mile along Duraleigh Road, then follow a ridgeline across to Richland Creek, where switchbacks will again be employed to take the greenway down to Crabtree Creek. From there, the greenway will continue to Umstead.
There is currently no funding for the project, estimated to cost about $3.5 million. But that appears to be a temporary concern.
Lebsock says he’s currently pulling together “residual funds” from other greenway projects to fund the design element. He expects the design to begin by summer, with construction possibly beginning by summer 2015.
“That would be really aggressive,” says Lebsock. But if it happens, the trail could possibly be done by the end of next year.
I love to paddle rivers. But I don’t always have a party to paddle with. That’s a problem for three reasons:
- Paddling with others is more fun;
- It’s safer, and;
- From a purely selfish standpoint, paddling with a party makes setting up a shuttle a whole lot easier.
Like most folks, I’m excited about the near completion of Raleigh’s Neuse River Trail, a 27.5-mile greenway following its namesake river from the base of Falls dam south to the Johnston County line. (The missing link, a 3/4-mile stretch below Horseshoe Farm Park is scheduled to open early next year). And, like most folks, I’m excited for the cycling/running/walking potential the greenway offers.