DURHAM — Miles of greenways that wind through the Bull City are slated to be spruced up and smoothed out over the next three months.
Though the work will temporarily close sections of the American Tobacco and Ellerbe Creek trails, the greenways will reopen minus the cracks and bumps that have developed over the years, city officials said.
The American Tobacco Trail's 22 miles extend from downtown Durham to southwestern Wake County.
On Friday, a city contractor started working on a half-mile section of the Ellerbe Creek Trail between West Lavender and West Murray avenues, Tim Jackson said. Jackson is a civil engineer with the city's Department of Public Works. Crews plan to grind down the trail's worn and frayed asphalt and widen sections of the half-mile trail from eight to 10 feet. Stone shoulders will be added to both sides, he said.
Repairs are scheduled to start in about a week on the nearly eight miles of paved surface from Morehead Avenue to the Southpoint Crossing shopping center, Jackson said. That section, along with the Riddle Road segment, will be closed at times over the next 90 days as city contractors patch cracks and resurface the asphalt.
Contractors will also work on the stone shoulder that lines sections of the trail that many like to jog on, Jackson said.
At some point during the three-month project, the dog park at Northgate Park will be closed for as long as two weeks, because the trail also is an entrance to the fenced-in pet play area, Jackson said. During that time, residents can use Durham's other public fenced-in dog area, in Pineywood Park at Woodcroft Parkway and Woodlake Drive.
The renovations on both trails are expected to total nearly $300,000 and are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
How will regulars cope?
Durham trail users said they'll adjust by seeking out other greenways and sidewalks so they can walk, run and bike around the construction.
"I'll just walk a shorter distance multiple times," said Ellis Smith, 70, who says he tries to walk three miles on the American Tobacco Trail at least three times a week. "It's just a nice, easy walk," on a peaceful path lined with trees and shrubs that filter out the traffic noise on nearby streets, Smith said as he waved to other trail regulars walking past him.
Meanwhile, Martin Smith, 52, will have to find another place to train for his July bike ride from Durham to Los Angeles to raise money to help find a cure for cancer.
Smith, a Durham resident who has chronic lymphocytic leukemia, rides the trail every day to prepare for the cross-country ride. He said he isn't sure where he will turn for a detour route. He faces construction and heavy traffic around his home near Renaissance Parkway, he said.
He could wake up early and beat the traffic, or "I might end up having to put the bike on the car and ride out to Dairyland Road in Chapel Hill," he said.
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