The town wants to build two miles of greenway trails that would connect the existing system to Cary’s greenways and create an uninterrupted path for walkers, runners and bicyclists to get from one end of town to the other.
It’s an ambitious project made possible with grant money from Wake County and the federal government. The bulk of the funding – $3.4 million – would come from federal money and the N.C. Department of Transportation. Wake County would pitch in $570,000.
Morrisville has already set aside nearly $850,000.
Ed Lynch, the town’s parks and greenways planner, said he “never dreamed we’d be able to do something like this.”
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The town already has two smaller, unconnected greenway systems in or near Morrisville Community Park, with an extension to the north toward Cary’s Twin Lakes neighborhood.
The new path would connect those existing greenways and extend them east and west to connect with other proposed greenways in Cary. If built, the two towns’ trails would allow people in Morrisville to go west to the Carpenter Village lake and northeast to Lake Crabtree.
Morrisville introduced the plans at an informal open house Tuesday night, which about a dozen people attended. Residents looked at proposed maps and spoke with Lynch and other town officials as well as a representative of the engineering and design firm that would build the trails.
Work on the project could start at the end of this year and would last about 18 months, said Iona Thomas, associate vice president and lead greenway designer for Stewart Inc.
She said the project would fulfill the goals of the two grants, – which is to improve the environment and ease traffic congestion by giving people more walking and biking options around town.
The greenway would also be a good way to show off the town’s natural assets, Thomas said.
“It’s really pretty,” she said. “There are some nice wetlands here, and we’ll have some good views.”
The Wake County grant was from the open spaces bond referendum, and the federal grant was from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, which funds environmental programs in places with sub-optimal levels of air pollution.
Thomas said that many people in Morrisville would probably enjoy walking or biking to the park, but that it’s just not feasible right now.
“Unless you have a car, you cannot get from one side of Morrisville to the other,” she said. “... (The greenway expansion) is a really great project for recreation and transportation.”
Tuesday’s open house was the first information session about the greenways. Stephanie Smith, the town’s public information officer, said there will be more chances for people to see the plans and give their input.
“It’s our goal to hear as much as we can from the public to make sure what we’re thinking is in line with what the public wants,” Smith said.
In the meantime, anyone who wants to view the maps of the proposal or has questions can contact Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org.