Raleigh greenway update: From House Creek to Portland

Several of you have inquired about the status of Raleigh’s House Creek Greenway. At not quite 3 miles, the greatly anticipated House Creek Greenway is of far more significance than it’s length might suggest: When House Creek is completed, it will link the nearly 10-mile* Reedy Creek/Gorman/Rocky Branch greenway with the 11.7-mile Crabtree Creek Trail greenway. I’ll get to what exactly all that means in a sec. First, the answer to your question.

“We’ve been a little slowed by the weather,” says Raleigh senior greenway planner Vic Lebsock of the winter’s cold and snow, “but we should be done by the end of this year.”

Construction, as many of you have noticed, has begun at the south end of the trail, at Wade Avenue and the Beltline. That’s where House Creek will tap into the Reedy Creek Greenway. (An extension running less than a quarter mile north along Wade Avenue will  hook into the bike-laned Ridge Road.) Lebsock says the confluence of that extension with the House Creek and Reedy Creek greenways will require a “bridge … that will be like a cloverleaf.” Can’t wait to see that.

When House Creek is completed, Raleigh will have nearly 38 miles of interconnected greenway. You could, for instance, ride a bike west from Worthdale Park along Walnut Creek in Southeast Raleigh, hang a right along Rocky Branch through N.C. State University, pick up the Reedy Creek Greenway and take it to the House Creek Greenway, take it over to the Crabtree Trail Greenway and travel almost all the way to WakeMed, a distance of about 22 miles — all on greenway. If you lived in North Raleigh near Shelley Lake, you could ride greenway to the south edge of downtown. If you lived in Southeast Raleigh and went to N.C. State, you could ride the greenway to class. If you were at Crabtree Valley Mall and thought your appendix was on the fritz, you could ride the greenway almost to WakeMed.

In short, when it’s done, the House Creek Greenway will turn Raleigh’s greenway system into a legitimate secondary transportation network for cyclists. Throw in the city’s 100-mile network of bike routes — roads deemed safe for cyclists — and, well, I wouldn’t call Raleigh Portland just yet. But the City of Oaks is making a good run.

Raleigh’s system promises to get even bigger soon. According to Lebsock:

  • Bids are expected to go out shortly on construction of the 6-mile Honeycutt Creek Greenway. Honeycutt will extend existing greenway that runs south from the Crabtree Creek Trail through Shelley Lake to the Crabtree Creek Trail greenway, north to Falls Lake. Expect that stretch to be finished by the end of 2012.
  • This fall, the city expects to bid the missing stretch of Crabtree Creek Trail greenway extending from it’s current southeast terminus at Milburnie Road to the Neuse River. That 4-mile stretch is expected to be completed the second quarter of 2013.
  • Two more miles of Walnut Creek Greenway also are expected to be bid soon. That will take the greenway to New Hope Road. Eventually, the Walnut Creek Greenway will continue on to the Neuse River.

It’s a lot to keep up with. Lebsock says the city hopes to help you keep pace with recent developments through a new greenway map that should be available in two to three weeks. The current map was issued in 2008.

Encouraging as the House Creek development is, an even longer stretch of greenway is scheduled to open this summer in Raleigh. It’s — dang! I’m outta space for today.

Return tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to that sentence.

Go here to find a map of Raleigh’s greenway system.

* The northwest end of the Reedy Creek Greenway meets with a 5-mile stretch of fine, hard-surface gravel that runs through Umstead State Park, connecting with the Black Creek Greenway in Cary. That adds another 10.6-miles of continuous, bike-friendly trail.

14 thoughts on “Raleigh greenway update: From House Creek to Portland”

  1. Well that’s just mean. Cliff-hanger blog posts.

    Is there really a “Gorman Street Connector Trail?” I was going to comment that there is short road section connecting Reedy Creek and Rocky Branch. Not a big deal, but Gorman Street isn’t great for people who aren’t comfortable on the road, but then I looked at the Greenway map and saw the Gorman Street Connector Trail, which I’ve never actually noticed when biking in that area.

    Also, Joe, last week you seemed a little dismissive of Raleigh when mentioning their plans to submit their Bicycle Friendly City application, and today you’re making Raleigh/Portland correlations. Which is it? Personally, I love the Greenway system, but I consider it separate from Raleigh’s standing as it applies to being “bicycle-friendly” because of their placement and the fact that they’re technically closed from dusk until dawn. As much as I look forward to House Creek for my morning commute, the return trip will either be on streets or as a lawbreaker, at least during this time of year.

    But regardless of hours and routes, I love the Greenway system, and I love your updates. So you definitely hooked me with your cliffhanger, and now I’ll be checking my feeds on the weekend instead of letting them stew until Monday morning.

    1. Yeah, cliff-hangers are annoying (I blame the GGNC marketing department).

      Re: Gorman Street — The Gorman “connector” is sidewalk. It’s not a great solution: You have to cross Gorman, which is busy and fast, and it bridges a rail line with only a skimpy guardrail for protection. Hopefully it will be addressed at some point.

      Re: My fickleness. It’s only been recently that Raleigh has embraced the greenways as a secondary transportation network. At this point, that benefit would be hard to ignore and silly to boot. Raleigh’s bike route system is OK, but certainly not worthy of BFC recognition. Couple it with the greenway system, though, and it becomes a pretty decent network. BFC recognition, from what I can tell, is based on how friendly a municipalities roads are toward bikes. Greenways don’t seem to be taken into consideration. Also: I’m not as observant of the whole dawn-to-dusk thing as I reckon I should be.

      Again, apologies for the cliff-hanger. But come back tomorrow!

      1. I, too, have been known to choose a post-dusk, greenway ride over a more hazardous, street ride. It irks me that I have choose between the law and my own safety, and until Raleigh adopts a more commuter/transportation friendly attitude towards their greenways, I have a hard time considering them as a valid part of the transportation network, even if I do use them that way. Too often I choose my destination based on where the greenways go, which seems far from ideal from a transportation standpoint, but does speak to how much I enjoy the greenways. Even when all the linking is done, the greenways will be far more effective for avoiding the more active areas of Raleigh then it will be for getting to where the action is. There’s a use and a place for that as well, but I would have to agree with the American League of Bicyclists if they don’t feel that the Greenways go far towards making Raleigh a “Bicycle Friendly City.” They make it a city with cool places to bike, but not always a city you can get around in on a bike.

  2. Joe, Great update, thanks for this one and the following one. The House Creek Greenway, I was thinking I had read that this stretch would include tunnels under Lake Boone Trail (needed) and Glen Eden Drive (maybe not needed) and because of those, this would take 2-3 years. Even finishing near the end of this year, it doesn’t seem it has taken that long, are both underpasses being built or have they been scrapped? If they are being built, has Raleigh revamped their construction process so the tunnels don’t hold standing water, like some on the Walnut Creek Greenway?
    Keep up the great writing, always interesting reading!

    1. The plan is still to tunnel under Lake Boone Trail. (It’s the first greenway construction project in Raleigh that will cause a street to be closed (for a short bit). I don’t believe they plan to tunnel under Glen Eden.

      1. They are in fact still planning to tunnel under Glen Eden. From what I recall this was not so much a matter of heavy traffic making this necessary, but rather the topography. It would have been difficult and expensive to raise the greenway from creek level to street level on the south side of the street.


        * The 1400 block of Glen Eden Drive is scheduled to be closed from April 4 to May 14.
        * The 3400 block of Lake Boone Trail will be closed from June 13 until July 14.

        So that means that the House Creek trail will only have one tiny street crossing, of Horton Street. In my book, that qualifies it as a “safe” greenway, one where you can take young children for a bike ride and not have to worry about their safety. Unfortunately the connection between the House Creek and Crabtree Creek greenways will not be very good.

  3. Looks like the city is a almost behind on street closures. They have partial shutdown starting today April 25th on Glen Eden. They are resurfacing the bridge and starting work on fixing the sidewalk that will hook the inside the beltline termination point to Glen Eden Pilot Park. Looks like they are planning to work around the clock on the tunnel because they are installing construction lighting systems. Yeah!!!

  4. Well its Sept. 13, 2011 and the Glen Eden Dr. Tunnel is still closed. Closed since Aug 1st and planned to open the street on Sept. 9 but no luck yet. They have built a tunnel but it seems to go nowhere as the trail abruptly ends at tunnels end. Maybe topography was the issue but this tunnel seems to be over the top as a means to cross a street. Over at Blue Ridge and Crabtree Blvd it looks like a simple surface intersection crossing.
    That doesn’t seem to be safe as it is congested especially.
    with bus traffic.
    What’s the point of an unnecessary tunnel where traffic is lighter than crossing a busy intersection on the surface?

    Planning seems inefficient but what’s done is done.

    1. Not sure about the tunnel. The Blue Ridge crossing isn’t the best situation, but here’s what they’ve done to mitigate danger: You’ll cross one lane and enter an island in the median at one end; then you’ll move down the island, exit the far end cross the remaining lane. Sight lines are pretty good there: should be able to see traffic for an adequate distance.

  5. I’m excited about the new House Creek greenway but like Curt W. I am baffled at some of the planning decisions that were made.

    I check on the greenway progress at least once a week as I will be a frequent user of it once it is complete. Substantial progress seems to have been made in the middle but, as of the end of November, the Contractor hasn’t even started on the connection between the new and old trail at Meredith (looks almost like a bridge will be required there), or on the median on Blue Ridge that Joe Miller referred to. I really hope everything will be done by Spring when I start bike commuting to work again.

  6. When will ythe House Creek Greenway be completed? Still closed at Glen Eden tunnel even though it looks like most of construction is completged.

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