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Railroad wants $7.1 million for Durham Beltline

Hopes for turning the Duke Beltline into a greenway have met another rebuff.

City Manager Tom Bonfield said Monday that the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which owns the abandoned line, has reappraised the property and raised its asking price to $7.1 million.

In an email to Beltline trail supporters, Bonfield said the railroad might be willing to lease the 2.25-mile right-of-way to the city for up to 10 years, at a price the railroad would determine.

“It does not appear that the City has much leverage at this point to persuade Norfolk Southern to a different conclusion,” Bonfield said.

City officials and members of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission had hoped to persuade Norfolk Southern to donate the property, or sell it at a reduced price.

More city money no help for Durham trail

Advocates for the West Ellerbe Creek greenway are pressing City Council members to appropriate more than $75,000 to it in the 2013-14 city budget.

They claim the city needs to set aside more to ensure it doesn’t lose a $1 million federal matching grant. Appropriating more now, though, would accomplish nothing and could jeopardize the federal money, according to Deputy City Manager Bo Ferguson and Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen.

“It’s not just providing money, it’s the feds saying you’re ready to spend it,” Ahrendsen told council members during a budget work session this week.

The proposed $75,000 is intended to pay for land to complete the right-of-way and finish the project design for those parcels. The city can’t apply to access the federal money until it owns the entire right-of-way and has a completed design.

“That could be 10, 12 months away,” Ahrendsen said. Sale-terms negotiations with property owners must be settled as well as design done.

Since the next step after design is actual construction, any city appropriation above the $75,000 “would hypothetically go to start construction,” Ferguson wrote in a memo to City Manager Tom Bonfield. But if construction starts before the city has access to the federal funds, the grant could be withdrawn.

“Bottom line – adding money to the project has no tangible effect on making the project happen faster, because regardless of our funding commitment, we have to wait on the federal money to proceed,” Ferguson wrote.

Total construction cost for the 1.2-mile greenway is estimated at $1.6 million. The trail would connect Westover Park, in the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood, with the North-South Greenway at Stadium Drive, running along Ellerbe Creek under Interstate 85 and past the Costco and the North Pointe Commons Apartments on Broad Street.

ATT bridge going up Saturday night

At long last, the American Tobacco Trail bridge over Interstate 40 is going into place Saturday night, according to City Hall.

A statement issued this morning states that the bridge is going to be set on its foundations by a crane between midnight and 7 a.m. Sunday, requiring that I-40 be closed to traffic between Fayetteville Road and N.C. 751.

Eastbound traffic will be routed around the Southpoint Mall retail area via Renaissance Parkway, westbound routed onto N.C. 54.

Trail users have been anticipating a connection across the interstate since the American Tobacco Trail opened in 2000. Repeated delays for design, financing, bidding, permitting and construction have held it up ever since – most recently this spring when four of the bridge’s eight piers were discovered to have been built 2.5 feet too tall.

According to the city, completion is still expected in July. Along with the bridge, the the $9 million project includes a 4.2-mile extension to complete the greenway in Durham from the American Tobacco complex to Chatham County.

Flooding closes Raleigh greenway trails

Parts of Raleigh greenway trails will be closed for up to three weeks while the city removes silt and repairs damage caused by recent storms and flooding.

The flooding closed sections of the upper, middle and lower Walnut Creek greenway corridor, and the Buckeye, Oak Park, Ironwood, North Hills, Alleghany, Fallon and Middle Crabtree Creek sections of the Crabtree Creek corridor.

Kellee Beach, the city's parks and recreation marketing administrator, said each trail section will be reopened as soon as it is repaired.

Greenway section opens on Third Fork Creek

A new four-mile section of the Third Fork Creek Trail is finished and open for business, project manager Don Stewart announced this afternoon.

The pedestrian-bicycle greenway runs from Garrett Road Park near Jordan High School to Southern Boundaries Park on Archdale Drive near Martin Luther King Parkway.

It extends the existing North-South Greenway, following the creek for much of its route and crossing several wetlands and other streams. City and federal stimulus money paid for its construction.
 

Improvements at Lake Johnson

Construction work is underway on the Lake Johnson Greenway extension, part of ongoing improvements to the Lake Johnson Dam.

Most of the greenway will remain open through construction, but the parking lot on Lake Dam Road and the trail leading to the lot are now closed, as is the trail next to the spillway. Portions of the greenway will be closed in the coming weeks as the city moves to other phases of construction.

For more information, contact the Lake Johnson Park office at 233-2121 or the City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department at 857-4540.

Who let the dogs out?

City Council member Bonner Gaylord tweets frequently. And they're usually witty and funny, which is refreshing coming from a public official.

Last night, he tweeted a word of advice for greenway users:

"If you're considering getting attacked by a dog on the greenway, I would advise selecting daylight hours cus dogs can see at night."

Dogs don't attack on city-owned golf courses. Just sayin...

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