5 miles of greenway emerges in Johnston County

When Raleigh’s Neuse River Greenway reaches the Johnston County Line in the spring of 2013, it’ll have company.

“It should be done by this time next year, if not sooner,” Bob Mosher with the NC Department of Transportation’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety said Thursday.

“It” is a four-mile stretch of greenway now under construction that starts at the Wake County line near Mial Plantation Road and extends downstream into Johnston County. There, it will meet with another greenway nearing completion, the 1.25-mile Sam’s Branch Greenway which runs into Clayton.

Provided the Neuse River Greenway is completed on schedule in spring 2013, the combined greenway would run about 33 miles continuous miles, from the base of Falls Lake dam to Clayton. It would be the longest continuous paved greenway in the state and would require no street crossings.

Sam's Branch Greenway in Clayton preps for its debut.

The $3 million project is being funded about half and half by funds former Rep. Bob Etheridge had earmarked for the project in 2006 and those from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,  a k a the “stimulus package.” Because the project had been designed and was ready for construction — a condition of projects qualifying for stimulus money — it’s coming out of the ground much sooner than expected.

The 4-mile stretch will require only one major bridge across the Neuse, about 200 yards below Mial Plantation Road. (Three smaller bridges over tributaries are also needed.) Otherwise, Mosher says, it’s a pretty straight-forward project.

Upstream, Raleigh is currently building the 28-mile Neuse River Greenway. The greenway is being built in phases. The first phase, 8 miles from the dam downstream to the WRAL Soccer Complex, is expected to be completed in September. The last phase to be built is the southernmost, the section that will link to the Johnston Country stretch. That section is scheduled to be completed in spring 2013.

In Clayton, meanwhile, construction is wrapping up on the 1.25-mile Sam’s Branch Greenway.

“It’s close,” Larry Bailey, director of parks and recreation for Clayton said Thursday. “We’re waiting for a couple bridges and trailhead access.”

The trail runs from its namesake creek at O’Neil Road downstream to the Neuse, where it will meet the aforementioned four-mile stretch. Bailey said the prefab bridges are being shipped from Florida and will be installed soon. Initially, trailhead parking will be in a gravel lot a couple hundred yards downstream from O’Neil Road. Bailey said the plan is to eventually have a paved lot. Eventually, too, the greenway will continue upstream a mile or so to Clayton’s Legend Park.

The new trail along the Neuse is part of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a work-in-progress that eventually connect Clingman’s Dome on the North Carolina/Tennessee border with Jockey’s Ridge at the coast. About half of that 1,000-mile trail is complete. Through the Triangle, the MST will run along the Eno River from Hillsborough through Durham County to Falls Lake, then along the south side of Falls Lake to the Neuse River, where it will head downstream to the coast.

The stretch from Hillsborough to Clayton is about 115 miles. Currently about 75 miles of that is done. By the time Raleigh’s Neuse River Greenway meets the Johnston Country trail, the entire passage should be complete.

For the latest on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail through the Triangle, visit our sister site, NCHikes.com.

Photo at top: A crane sets up below Mial Plantation Road in Johnston County to hoist a pedestrian bridge over the Neuse River.

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Emerging Johnston County Greenway

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7 thoughts on “5 miles of greenway emerges in Johnston County”

  1. Joe, thanks for all the continuous reporting on greenways. These facilities are a real asset to our region. It’s amazing to me that the Neuse River Trail will go from a couple miles of unpaved, hard to access trail built by a developer a decade ago, to 33 miles long, in just a few short years.

    It’s interesting how such a long trail has come together so quickly, and yet the comparatively short gap between Duraleigh and Ebenezer Church along Crabtree Creek has been held up for a decade.

    The lack of street crossings on this trail is especially impressive, and in my opinion, invaluable.

  2. That Crabtree stretch has been a pawn in the neighborhood/quarry battle for way too long. There’s an upland alternative route that they should just go ahead and pursue. Frustrating.

  3. The trail will be traditional greenway 10ft wide paved for most of the route. As I this trail will travel from the dam at Falls Lake south to the Johnston County border connecting to Raleighs major east-west greenways along the way.

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