The town is upgrading its greenways in hopes of encouraging more people to get outside and walk.
As part of a $6 million project, crews will add about 4 miles of greenways, sidewalks and boardwalks to connect the Smith Creek and Sanford Creek greenway near Heritage High School. They will extend the Dunn Creek Greenway north to connect with the Cardinal Hills and Deacons Ridge neighborhoods.
Workers will also fix drainage issues and add lights and safety rails on the Dunn Creek Greenway.
“This is going to be a great connection for transportation and recreation,” said Candace Davis, Wake Forest’s transportation planning manager.
The additions will give pedestrians easier access to parks, schools, neighborhoods and shopping centers, Davis said.
Wake Forest leaders have been interested in expanding the greenways for years. In 2002, the town created the Open Space and Greenways Plan, which calls for connecting major parks in the area.
From the start, leaders hoped a network of walking paths throughout town would provide an economic boost, Davis said. The idea was to encourage residents to walk to local businesses.
The project will also promote environmentally friendly travel throughout Wake Forest, said Deanna Welker, chairwoman of the town’s greenway advisory board.
“We have a lot of young families that want to be outdoors in a way that’s safe,” Welker said. “They want to get out and see their neighborhood.”
During the planning stages of the project, Welker and other members of the advisory board held educational events to show the public what the changes would look like and to talk about the town’s vision for its greenways.
Welker hopes for “true connectivity.” She said the greenway network must continue to grow.
“The hope is that the whole system could take someone all the way through the town, even into other cities,” Welker said.
Portions of the greenways will be temporarily closed during construction, which should be completed late next year.
Wake Forest is paying for the project using a federal grant and also voter-approved bond money.
Evan Owens: 919-836-5755; @eowens12