If there’s anything approaching a guarantee in the world of greenway construction — a world in which delays are the norm — Raleigh’s chief greenway planner comes close to offering it.
When done — in 2014 — the Neuse River Greenway will run from Falls Lake Dam south to the Johnston County Line, connecting with greenways in Knightdale and Wake Forest, crossing the Neuse via pedestrian bridges 7 times and creating by half as much the longest continuous greenway in the Triangle. In addition, the $30 million project also includes 4-mile links to existing greenway along both Crabtree Creek and Walnut Creek. The Crabtree connection would create a 15-mile greenway, from the Neuse northwest to near Duraleigh Road, the Walnut Creek connection would link the Neuse with N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, about 11 miles to the west.
Lebsock says the first stretch of the Neuse Trail to be completed will be the 7.9-mile stretch running from just below Falls Lake Dam to the WRAL Soccer Complex/Horseshoe Farm Park area. Construction on that stretch began last week at a spur trail off Falls River Road. The 7.9-mile stretch should open in April 2011.
From there, contractors will work on two sections simultaneously. They’ll continue down river from Horseshoe Farm to Old Milburnie Road/Skycrest Drive, a distance of 6 miles. That section will include four bridges over the Neuse — ranging from 240 to 600 feet in length — and will pass the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park. Contractors also will pave the nearly 4 miles of natural surface Neuse trail built in the early 1990s. That stretch runs from Old Milburnie/Skycrest to Anderson Point Park. The latter stretch should open in about a year. The six miles down from Horseshoe Farm Park is more challenging, in part because of the bridges, and will take about two years to complete, says Lebsock.
Also around the same time, construction should begin on the 4-mile Crabtree Creek stretch. Lebsock says that stretch should open the end of 2012.
Lebsock says the city has about half the $30 million it needs for the Neuse project and that the remainder, which is coming mostly from federal funds, appears to be coming together. He says parts of the project could get fast-tracked if Congress approves a second round of stimulus funding. Word on the street is that at least half of additional stimulus money would go to projects that can begin construction within 90 days of being awarded. He says the city has been pushing hard on design for the Neuse project and that there likely aren’t many other eligible projects left in the state, since most of the projects that were “shovel ready” got money from the first round of stimulus money.
How that stimulus money shakes out could affect which of the remaining Neuse sections get finished next. Regardless, Lebsock is confident of one thing.
The entire Neuse River Greenway will be open in 2014.
Photo: A 3.75-mile stretch of natural surface trail has existed along the Neuse River upstream from Anderson Point Park since the early 1990s.