May 17, 2015 / Culture
By: Paul Benton We did it! LandDesign ambitiously participated in Bike to Work Week, May 11-15, this year and we […]
Imagine a greenway that stretches 26 miles, allowing residents to travel seamlessly from one end of Charlotte to the other by foot or on a bicycle. Imagine a greenway that comfortably separates the user from the automobile, providing a safe and friendly experience. Imagine a greenway that connects people to community destinations, like PNC Music Pavilion, UNC Charlotte’s campus, and Freedom Park; neighborhoods, like Montford and NoDa; and providing better transportation and amenities for Charlotteans.
Hi, welcome to the Cross Charlotte Trail, or as we like to say “XCLT” around here. The Cross Charlotte Trail is more than just a project LandDesign is working on; it’s a visionary idea of connecting our city in ways that haven’t before been possible. The City of Charlotte is partnering with Mecklenburg County to create and combine a 26-mile trail and greenway facility that will stretch from the City of Pineville, through Center City, on to UNC Charlotte’s campus, and connect to Cabarrus County line.[charmeck.org] LandDesign is leading the master planning and design efforts, and a sub consultant team consisting of: HR&A Advisors, Toole Design Group (the nation’s leader in bicycle and pedestrian transportation design), Carolina PR and STV, Inc. This powerhouse team is combining forces with the City and County to make this vision happen.
The Cross Charlotte Trail will be the culmination of existing trail segments with gaps filled in by the County and City, stitching critical sections of the greenway together. Existing greenways, like Little Sugar Creek Greenway (south of Uptown), Toby Creek Greenway (near UNC Charlotte’s campus), all part of the Carolina Thread Trail, account for the existing 7.6 miles. The County will complete 5.5 miles of trails and the City will complete the remaining 12.8 miles of trails. In total, 25.9 miles will seamlessly connect to make this XCLT Matter.
Currently, Charlotte ranks relatively low compared to other US cities in terms of total trail mileage. If the complete Mecklenburg County Greenway Master Plan is implemented, Charlotte will rank in the top 5 US cities with the most multi-use trails.[charlotteagenda.com] One resident stated, “I think [the trail] will be a magnet for people to come live here.”[youtube] Another resident said, “Any way that you can make entertainment and exercise accessible to the residents and get us outside enjoying the beauty of our City is definitely going to enhance the lifestyle of the residents.”[youtube] Dan Gallagher, a Charlotte Department of Transportation official involved with the project stated, “This is a project I believe is transformative. I think it will pay dividends for our residents in the near term and for generations to come.”[charlottefive.com]
The Trail will serve as a catalyst for economic and community development. Approximately 98,000 jobs and 80,000 residents are located within a half mile zone along the proposed trail. “It’ll cut down on a lot of people that are commuting; this [trail] gives them an alternative to coming into Uptown and travelling back home,” said a Charlottean at the June 30th Public Meeting.[youtube] The Trail will be funded by a $5 million bond referendum that passed in 2014, which has covered the planning and projections, and $30 million in bonds proposed for 2016 for construction costs.[charlotteagenda.com]
Part of the planning process includes community engagement and feedback. With over ten pop-up meetings, more than five community meetings, newsletters and the website, residents have the opportunity to provide feedback and make this Trail Matter to them. The first meeting was held on January 27, 2015, where 250 attendees provided feedback on a “high priority” 1.2 mile trail segment from Tyvola Road to Brandywine Road, an area close to Park Road Shopping Center. This segment is set to be completed in the next five years.[charmeck.org] The most recent public meeting was held on June 30, 2015, where over 200 residents provided feedback on three potential alignments extending from 9th Street in Uptown to UNC Charlotte’s campus. Overall, “public response has been very positive, with negative comments originating typically from those who don’t live near the trail,” according to Joe Frey, Cross Charlotte Trail Project Manager.[charlottefive.com] Frey said the only complaints he’s heard are why can’t the trail be built faster and that it doesn’t run through every neighborhood.[charlotteagenda.com]
In terms of a horizon timeline, several portions of the trail will be built in the next two or three years, while other portions may take longer. Some segments will need public-private partnerships, looking to precedents like what Little Sugar Creek Greenway at the Metropolitan had successfully achieved together. As a local stated at the June 30th Public Meeting, “I think what they’re looking at is very ambitious and I think we can do that. Charlotte has a lot to offer!”[youtube]
If you missed the first two public meetings, you can still provide input and comments on the website. There is an interactive trail map as well as a Wiki Map to pin your comment. You also have the option to email feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.