I had just said hello to Vic Lebsock when the inevitable happened: A woman walked up and wanted to know the status of a greenway planned through her neighborhood, a greenway years from construction, she knew, but she just had to know the latest. Lebsock excused himself and dutifully walked the woman over to an aerial map of her Lake Johnson neighborhood for “the latest.”
Such is the life of the greenway point man for the North Carolina city with the most greenways.
Lebsock, senior greenway planner for Raleigh, and Sig Hutchinson spoke Thursday night at the monthly meeting of the Capital Group chapter of the Sierra Club. Hutchinson, the Triangle’s leading greenway and trails advocate, provided a big picture look at the Triangle’s evolving greenway system, noting that while the area hasn’t quite reached the tipping point (the point at which a novelty becomes necessity) that day is near. It could occur within four years, as key greenway projects in Cary, Durham and Raleigh are completed and join to form a continuous trail network making it possible, say, to get from Walnut Creek in Southeast Raleigh to downtown Durham via a 10-foot-wide swath of pedestrian-only greenway.
Currently, there’s about 145 miles of greenway in the Triangle. By 2014, that number should reach 220, based on projects scheduled to be completed within the next four years. Of those additional 75 miles, 41 will be in Raleigh. Here’s the update Lebsock gave Thursday night for those 41 miles in oak town. To follow along, call up the Raleigh Greenway map, here.
Neuse River Greenway
Status: Construction is underway on the northernmost eight miles, heading south from Falls Lake dam. Those eight miles should be finished by April. The entire 28 miles, which will run from the dam to the Johnston County line, are expected to be finished by 2014.
Significance: This will be the longest greenway in the Triangle and will link the Crabtree Creek and Walnut Creek greenways, roughly creating a semicircle of greenway running from Lake Johnson east along Walnut Creek to the Neuse, then north to Crabtree Creek and northwest to Umstead State Park. The greenway is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, an in-progress passage beginning at Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border and running across the state to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast.
Honeycutt Creek Greenway
Status: Construction is scheduled to be completed by Spring of 2012.
Significance: Will link greenway running from Crabtree Creek north past Shelley Lake with the South Shore Trail at Falls Lake. The South Shore Trail, a natural surface passage, is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and currently runs about 43 miles, from Durham County to Falls Lake dam.
House Creek Greenway
Status: Under construction, should be finished in the summer of 2012.
Significance: A relatively short but highly anticipated stretch of greenway, this stretch will link an existing 13-mile swath of greenway running from Meredith College across the Beltline to the N.C. Museum of Art then on through Umstead State Park into Cary with the 11-mile (and growing) Crabtree Creek Greenway. The Honeycutt Creek connection will greatly expand the potential for getting around Raleigh via greenway. The two-year time frame for a relatively short stretch of greenway is due to the fact that two tunnels will need to be built as part of the project, which will also be Raleigh’s first greenway project to necessitate detouring road traffic.
Walnut Creek Greenway: Rose Lane to Neuse River
Status: Actually, says Lebsock, only 2.9 miles of this stretch is currently funded, from the greenway’s current eastern end east to South New Hope Road: The remaining 1.6 miles will finish the Walnut Creek Greenway’s link to the in-progress Neuse River Greenway (see above). The 2.9-mile stretch should be done by Summer 2012.
Significance: The 4.5-mile stretch would create a continuous 11-mile stretch of greenway from the Neuse Greenway west to N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. (Greenway planned for the Centennial Campus would connect with additional Raleigh greenway that links to and encircles Lake Johnson.
Crabtree Creek East Greenway
Status: This stretch, which would link the in-the-works Neuse River Greenway with 11 miles of existing Crabtree Creek Greenway, should be finished by late 2012.
Significance: Will create 15.1 miles of continuous greenway from the Neuse River northwest, to just shy of Duraleigh Road. There, another missing link in the greenway chain will run another two miles or so and connect with trail in Umstead State Park. (For an update on that stretch, go to last Saturday’s post.)