When the Cross Charlotte Trail was first proposed, it was billed as an unbroken 26-mile trail, stretching from Pineville to University City.
But now, using existing county greenways and by building a connection to the McMullen Creek Greenway in south Charlotte, the trail network will stretch nearly 40 miles — or more — through Charlotte when it’s complete. The city estimates that more than 170,000 people would live within walking distance of the completed trail.
Joe Frey, project manager with City of Charlotte, said he expects people will be able to use the trail network to get from Rea Road, through Ballantyne, into Pineville, up to uptown and into NoDa by the end of 2020.
Much of the upcoming work on the trail relies on $28 million in bonds on this year’s ballot. (Read more about the bonds here.)
Here are updates on some of the key parts of the Cross Charlotte Trail.
Brandywine to Tyvola
The next large chunk in the works: Connecting the trail from Brandywine behind Park Road Shopping Center to Tyvola Road.
This stretch of trail, which will run about 1.5 miles, is “the hardest section” so far, said City of Charlotte project manager Joe Frey. Development backs right up to Little Sugar Creek in many places, and the creek is really low compared to the bank, with slopes on either side.
The city will have to cut into the slope and build huge retaining walls to make room for the trail, which will be a minimum of 12-feet wide (except where it goes through culverts).
The flyover below shows the trail should look like, starting at Brandywine and going south:
And here’s a map of the same stretch:
There will be access to the trail at Woodlawn using ramps, and the corner of Selwyn and Park using a small pocket park. This stretch also winds through a largely untouched swath of county land, making it feel like you’ve escaped the city — even if just for a little bit.
Getting over 277 and Independence
Another difficult stretch for the trail is between 7th and 10th streets, the part that would cross I-277 and Independence. Currently there’s a plan to create a bike path on the side of the Central Avenue bridge.
Long term, the project team working on the trail would prefer to see a separate bridge — an iconic suspension bridge — stretch across the intersection. It would be a better experience for users and attract tourists, Frey said.
“It’d be an icon for uptown,” he said, with pedestrians and bikers soaring above the roads in the shadow of the city’s skyline. “I like the symbolism of that.”
Here are some proposed renderings:
It’s not cheap, though. A bridge could cost an estimated $10-$15 million, according the city. And there’s currently no plan for the city to fund it. It has unsuccessfully applied for a federal grant and may apply for more in the future.
Optimist Park/Villa Heights and Matheson Street Bridge
North of uptown, the city and county are close to finishing an extension of the greenway that will take it under Parkwood Ave. and into Cordelia Park.
Building the trail north of uptown — especially around NoDa — will require a lot of public/private partnership, and so far the city has already gotten some participation from developers.
This is true in the Optimist Park neighborhood, where plans call for the trail to wrap around a new development on Jordan Place before running up to and over the Matheson Ave. bridge. The city envisions an overlook on that bridge, giving people a chance to enjoy the iconic view of uptown over the railroad tracks.
South Charlotte connector
When Frey was looking at the map of the Cross Charlotte Trail’s proposed path, he noticed how close it came to McMullen Creek Greenway in south Charlotte. With a 1.2-mile connector, the city could add a 5.5 mile greenway system to the trail.
Now there are plans for the city and county to collaborate on the connector between the two, from the President James K. Polk State Historical Site to McMullen Greenway near I-485.
The $3 million budgeted for the for the city’s part of the connector, which would include building a trail on city-owned property at the McAlpine Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant and building a bridge over the creek, is in this year’s bond package.
Want to learn more? Visit the Cross Charlotte Trail page on the City of Charlotte website.
Photos: City of Charlotte; James Willamor/Flickr