GREENSBORO — The final piece of land is in place for the Downtown Greenway and construction should begin next year on the last phase of the 4-mile walking and biking trail around downtown.
The city on Friday closed an $8.5 million deal with Norfolk Southern to convert an inactive railway corridor into the western leg of the Downtown Greenway. The deal also allows the city to build a trail that branches off of the greenway on its northwest corner and extends from West Smith Street northwest to Markland Drive near the Target shopping center on Lawndale Drive.
The western phase of the Downtown Greenway extends from Spring Garden Street to West Smith Street.
In all, the right of way deal includes 3.1 miles that will allow the greenway to link to the existing A&Y Greenway that extends 9 miles to Summerfield and beyond, Greensboro City Manager David Parrish said.
“This is a significant day for us,” Parrish said. “It’s something we’ve been pursuing for 11 years.”
Action Greensboro, a community development group, has been working with the city to oversee the construction and acquisition of the land in four phases. Parrish said Friday’s deal was completed with money from city bond funds, $1.5 million from Action Greensboro and $4.4 million from the state of North Carolina.
“This section is particularly unique with the College Branch Stream running alongside what will become the greenway path,” said Dabney Sanders, the Downtown Greenway project manager for Action Greensboro. Sanders said in a news release, “Stream restoration work, the addition of site furnishings, and public art will make this a beautiful part of the greenway to travel through, as well as a destination.”
“This is truly exciting news as we can now close the gap and complete the Downtown Greenway,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan said in a news release. “To see this project come to fruition is a testament to everyone who has worked so hard on this project. The Downtown Greenway will serve generations of Greensboro residents.”
In all, the Downtown Greenway will cost roughly $43 million, the city said in a news release, which includes about $13 million in private donations and $30 million in public money from both local bonds and state and federal funding. Earlier this year, the VF Foundation and VF Leaders announced a legacy gift of $1.5 million to Action Greensboro to support the continued development of the Downtown Greenway and this funding will help support this acquisition, according to the city.
Construction of the Downtown Greenway is also progressing along Murrow Boulevard. The eastern section of the greenway will run alongside Murrow Boulevard from East Gate City Boulevard to Fisher Avenue and North Greene Street where it will connect with the current open section. Work is underway on new traffic signals and a new traffic pattern at Murrow and Gate City boulevards, and construction is expected to be complete in October 2020.
In 2001, the Greensboro Center City Master Plan identified the Downtown Greenway as one of three major projects, including Center City Park and the Greensboro Grasshoppers downtown baseball park. The Downtown Greenway was then included in the city’s 2006 Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenway/Trails Master Plan, that included the greenway as the hub of an envisioned 400 miles of Greensboro trails and greenways.
It was also selected as the city’s signature project for Greensboro’s 2008 bicentennial, and in 2010, the greenway was named the top priority of the Greensboro Downtown Economic Development Strategy.