When the city designated its first greenways in the 1970s, the protected areas were primarily designed to prevent flood damage.
Trails were included along the greenways for recreation, but they weren’t the focus of the projects.
Now, 40 years later, residents often cite the network of trails running through Raleigh and connecting the city to nearby towns as one of their favorite recreation features.
The Capital Area Greenway system includes 3,800 acres of land and more than 100 miles of trails, with 120 more miles proposed.
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As the system continues to evolve, city planners will look to a new design guide to develop greenways, trails and the amenities that accompany them. Planners presented a draft version of the guide Thursday.
The guide doesn’t lay out plans for specific locations of future greenways, but it provides the framework for future designs.
Todd Milam, a city greenway planner, said the shift in how residents think about greenways has happened during the last five to 10 years as the city built connections between greenways.
“What we’ve created is a greenway system rather than isolated trails,” he said.
The federal government also has promoted the trails by tying transportation funding to efforts to reduce automobile efforts and increase trail connections between schools, shopping, parks and employment centers, according to the draft guide.
The main feature of the guide is a classification system that sorts greenways depending on where they are, how many people use them and how they fit into the areas around them.
Milam said planners will consider the needs of each kind of trail, rather than looking at one-size-fits-all standards. The guide includes consideration of high-volume greenways and how residents use them.
It also looks at how amenities such as restrooms, water fountains, seating and lighting affect each greenway.
“It’s important that those elements work together to provide a complete experience,” Milam said.
New greenway sections
Three greenway projects are in the works, and Raleigh leaders expect them to be completed by the end of the year:
• the 1.4-mile Crabtree Creek Trail extension that connects to an existing trail at Milburnie Park and joins the Neuse River Trail at Anderson Point Park;
• the 0.8-mile Horsehoe Bend section of the Neuse River Trail that will fill the last gap in the trail that runs from the Falls Lake Dam to Sam’s Branch Trail outside Clayton;
• the 5.6-mile Honeycutt Creek Trail that will run from the existing East Fork Mine Creek Trail at Longstreet Drive and through Honeycutt Park before connecting to the South Shore Trail at Falls Lake Recreation Area.