Construction of the 26-mile Cross-Charlotte Trail won’t start in earnest for at least two years. But some essential work – particularly regarding the stretch between University City to uptown – will begin sooner, says Joe Frey with the Charlotte Transportation Department. After all, you must design before you build, and the link to University City offers special challenges AND opportunities.
University City is a key part of Cross-Charlotte Trail
The Cross-Charlotte Trail is a cyclist’s and hiker’s dream come true – one continuous path mostly built along shaded creeks that would let people stroll, jog, bike and even commute to work or school with only limited contact with urban traffic.
University City will get a big boost from the trail, since it starts here at the Cabarrus County line and runs through UNC Charlotte to uptown Charlotte and then on to Pineville. Similar trails nationwide have also shown to generate new economic growth and higher property values for both nearby neighborhoods and businesses.
Many pieces of the Cross-Charlotte Trail already exist in the form of 7.6 miles of greenways built over the last three decades by Mecklenburg County’s Parks and Recreation Department, including Toby and Mallard Creek greenways in University City, and parts of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway through central and south Charlotte. The Cross-Charlotte Trail project, however, is a joint city-county venture that recognizes the alternative-transportation opportunities that such a long and strategically placed trail could bring.
Next steps – major planning, limited construction
Charlotte voters in November approved the first of two transportation bond packages needed to build the Cross-Charlotte Trail. The $5 million authorized in November will go mostly for planning and designing the trail, along with limited construction.
For instance, work will start this year to build a short segment of the trail between uptown and University City. The city and county will work jointly to extend the existing Little Sugar Creek Greenway from its end at Parkwood Avenue through Cordelia Park to Davidson and 24th streets.
2016 bonds will include funds to build
The second bonds vote, in November 2016, would provide the $30 million needed for Charlotte to build nearly 13 miles of the trail, including 8 miles of trail between University City and uptown, and 3.4 miles of trail from Mallard Creek Church Road to the Cabarrus County line. If voters OK those bonds, construction should start in 2017 on the first city-funded work, Frey said.
Mecklenburg County will build the remaining 5.5 miles through its parks budget. In fact, the county will start work in University City this spring to build nearly a mile of the Cross-Charlotte Trail: the Toby Creek Greenway Phase 2 (SEE RELATED STORY).
Frey said that the public will have many opportunities to get involved in trail development over the next two years, beginning with a meeting on Jan. 27 at Marion Diehl Park (see below). The public will even play a role in determining the path of the northeast segment between uptown and University City.
The city has contracted with Charlotte planning company LandDesign to create a master plan for the Cross-Charlotte Trail from city limit to city limit, Frey said. “They will focus heavily on the northeast corridor, because that is the toughest piece and the biggest unknown, since most of it will not be a greenway.”
Once the trail gets to the headwaters of Little Sugar Creek, on the north side of the NoDa arts district around 36th street, it will need to follow an overland path for 4-5 miles before reaching the headwaters of Toby Creek.
“LandDesign’s work focus will be to come up with alternative routes in the northeast corridor,” Frey said. “We will be doing a lot of community outreach, public meetings and online surveys” to get feedback on the best final path.
How you can stay informed
The city will offer many community-engagement activities throughout the trail’s development. You can keep up with trail development by visiting the Cross-Charlotte Trail website and subscribing to ongoing email announcements. To subscribe, click the Notify Me button at the top of the page.
Public meeting Jan. 27 on Brandywine to Tyvola Segment
You can get a taste of what’s to come on Jan. 27, when the city transportation department holds a drop-in community information meeting on the segment of the Cross-Charlotte Trail being planned along Little Sugar Creek between Brandywine and Tyvola roads. The meeting will take place 6-8 p.m. at the Queens Facility at Marion Diehl Park, 2229. Tyvola Road.