There are a variety of ways to help support trails and open spaces in Durham County. First, get out there! The more that people use the opportuntities that currently exist, the more likely that new trails and recreational spaces will be funded, designed, and completed. You can find lots of online and downloadable maps on the Maps page. Second, review our Calendar for events and programs hosted by DOST and like-minded organizations.
Third, learn more about DOST at any of our open-to-the-public committee meetings and monthly Commission meetings. Descriptions of the DOST committees, as well as meeting locations and times are listed on the Committees page. If you would like to volunteer for DOST, check the Commissioners page to see if there is a vacancy which you could fill.
Finally, vote with your pocketbook as well as in the voting booth. DOST closely monitors potential policy changes (for good and bad) and opportunities to voice our support for open space and trails, both in Durham County and across the region and state. Current and recent news items are listed below -- please help in whatever ways you can!
Durham County residents will soon benefit from the local application of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known simply as the "Stimulus Package".
Four areas of interest to open space and trails supporters will be affected:
Here are some descriptions of the future trail and sidewalk improvements, as listed in a recent PDF from the City's website:
Construction of 3 trail segments to extend the Third Fork Creek Trail (TFCT), as follows: (1) an estimated 700 feet of trail to connect the TFCT to existing sidewalks and bike lanes on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, (2) an estimated 2375 feet of trail to connect the TFCT at Woodcroft Parkway to Garrett Road Park, and (3) an estimated 2960 feet of trail to connect the TFCT at Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to Southern Boundaries Park. Includes clearing/grubbing, grading, culverts, driveway aprons, and construction of a 10' asphalt trail.
Resurface the North-South Greenway Trail for an estimated 3,080 feet in length from Lavender Street to Murray Avenue. Includes grading as needed to add 2' stone to each side of the trail.
Resurface the American Tobacco Trail for an estimated 35,400 feet in length From Morehead Avenue to NC 54. Includes grading as needed to add 2' stone to each side of the trail. Resurface the Riddle Road Spur Trail for an estimated 7,947 feet in length from the American Tobacco Trail to Briggs Avenue. Includes grading as needed to add 2' stone to each side of the trail.
The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation published a report on the results of their "Paddle Survey", complete with some eye-opening data. Over 2000 respondents took the survey. The vast majority of them report living in the Piedmont area, so that the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers were voted the most popular watercourses to paddle should come as little surprise. However, the respondents also indicated that they spent "nearly $300,000 last year on trips within their local area" and another $950,000 on trips outside their local area. Kayaks were far and away the craft of choice. Not only is paddling a low-impact, green way to enjoy the outdoors, but it also apparently has high impact on the "greening" of local businesses. Take heed, area Chambers of Commerce! Support the development of blue trails as well as the more typical land-based ones! Read the full report, here (PDF).
DOST's very own R. Kelly Bryant, Jr. was recently interviewed by Frank Stasio on the WUNC lunchtime radio program, The State of Things. While Kelly did not discuss the current state of open space or trails in Durham County, he did entrance listeners with fascinating stories about his life and involvement in the struggle for civil rights and equality. Be sure to download the podcast and listen to it -- Kelly's life is an amazing journey full of inspiration.And, actually, Kelly's championing of civil rights and access to open space did intersect a half-century ago as he slyly helped integrate the Kerr Lake recreation area. The man is a Durham treasure, and we are proud to serve with him on the DOST Commisison!
GoTriangle.com has published a new map for downtown Durham -- and it's full of good information for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. This new map highlights the panoply of restaurants and cultural amenties around downtown within easy biking and walking distance of transit stations and each other. The map is available for download from the BPAC website (PDF); pass them out to your Raleighite and Caryite friends who complain they can't navigate through Durham! (Then check out all the other maps we have available on the Maps page of this website.)
A local multimedia producer, Carol Thomson, has been creating a documentary work about the American Tobacco Trail. Taking the form of both CD-ROM and website, the documentary, entitled Bridging Rails to Trails, "explores the 100-year evolution of the American Tobacco Trail from a railroad crucial in tobacco manufacturing to a unique linear park. The trail corridor’s history reflects the rise and fall of Durham’s tobacco industry, and Durham’s evolution toward a healthier, more people-focused community in the 21st century. Currently over three-fourths of the new recreational trail is open to the public and it is a major family recreation draw. When complete, it will cover 22 miles in Durham, Chatham and Wake counties and provide people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and free places to cycle, ride horses, walk, jog and skate."
As she explains further, the documentary "takes the viewer on an interactive journey of ’stops’ down the trail. Video segments explore the varied sections: the people who use the trail, the volunteers who are making it a reality, and the communities adjacent to it. Slide shows of archival photos and oral histories of tobacco and railroad workers bring its history to life. These stories include topics of green space conservation, changes in spaces and communities, healthy lifestyles, and historic redevelopment."
As reported in the local newspapers (Herald-Sun, News & Observer), Durham is one of four North Carolina cities recently honored by kid-centric non-profit KaBoom! as a "Play City USA". DOST was singled out as an organization helping to keep Durham playful by matching funds with the Central Park School for playground improvements. Though the Matching Grants Program was derailed this fiscal year because of the budgetary crisis, it is expected to get back on track during the coming year.
Let City Council and the County Commissioners know that you want Durham's playfulness to continue well into the future. Support reinstating the Matching Grants Program funding!
The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail reported that another section of that trail is open is Durham County. A portion of the Falls Lake Trail "runs from Hickory Hill Boat Ramp to the end of E. Geer St. and is a part of Section 26 of the MST and is shown on Map 26.5." Find the trail on the overview map (a Google mashup), as well as the detail map (a JPG).
Drivers and riders on the Durham Freeway (aka NC-147) can't help but notice the missing bridge which once spanned the highway just east of Alston Avenue. A lot of history is packed into that bridge, as a News & Observer article pointed out recently. DOST's own Kelly Bryant is quoted in the piece. Construction of the bridge supports has already begun; look for the entirety of the project to be completed within 12 months.
After several public information and feedback sessions (and what seems like years of false-starts), the design of the American Tobacco Trail Phase E Pedestrian Bridge, commonly called the I-40 bridge, has finally been completed. The City's Public Works Department website lists the details of the project, but shown below is one of the images of the bridge as it will look when construction has been completed.
A workshop about new farming techniques will be held Saturday, January 31. This meeting is sponsored by the Durham County Farmland Protection Board and will be held at the Bahama Ruritan Club from 9am until 2pm. Seminar topics will include sustainable farming practices, conservation easements, and developing a business plan. For more information, or to RSVP, call the Protection Board at (919) 560-0558. Also, visit their website [link] or view the event flyer [link].
The Durham Board of County Commissioners are involved in the middle of a Jordan Lake boundary dispute, after voting to accept a developer's survey that shifts the boundary westward -- and which accomodates the latest subdivision to be planned for the southwest corner of the county, near the intersection of NC 751 and Fayetteville Road.
Matt Saldana of the Independent has written two articles on the subject, and has been featured on WUNC's The State of Things (links listed below). At present, officials are waiting for a decision on the boundary to be made by the state's Division of Water Quality.
Durham fails to hold the line on Jordan Lake (December 3, 2008)
Chatham leaders riled up about Jordan Lake decision (December 16, 2008)
January 7, 2009 interview on TSOT
Good news and bad news regarding the Durham Open Space and Trails Matching Grants Program.
The good news is that the Central Park School for Children is installing new playground equipment. School director Caroline Weaver writes, "The Durham City Council has approved our request to donate play equipment to the City to be placed in the Old North Durham Park behind the School. The new equipment should be installed in February. Watch for it! This equipment was purchased with a matching DOST grant (Durham Open Space and Trails) and Sunshine Fund and Strawberry Festival moneys. Thanks to all those Strawberry Festival volunteers!"
The bad news: unfortunately, the MGP will not issue any grants this year. Due to the Durham County budget crisis, the entirety of the Matching Grants Program budget (fiscal year 2008-09) has been cut. Disbursements to the 2008 award winners will NOT be made. For Durham Board of County Commissioner meeting minutes, click here.
You may have seen a Zipcar while in Chapel Hill. Now, you might see one zipping around Durham. Four Zipcars - including two hybrids - have been placed on Duke University's campus and available for rent at $8 an hour or $66 per day. Both the Herald-Sun and the News & Observer published articles about the "self-service" vehicles [here and here].
Mass transit supporters, heads up! If you look westward you might make out the beginnings of a modern Hillsborough train station. The "Rail Station Task Force" has been moving along the idea of constructing a train station and platform for use as an Amtrak rail stop.
It's been 45 years since the last passenger train rumbled to a stop in "Hillsboro". The costs of constructing a new station are estimated at $5-6 million for a building and $1 million for a platform with a canopy and lighting. Learn about the Task Force on their website [link], which includes a site selection presentation made to the public on January 14.
Durhamites Stephen and Rebekah Hren have written a book, entitled The Carbon-Free Home: 36 Remodeling Projects to Help Kick the Fossil-Fuel Habit, based in part on their experiences owning a home in the Old North Durham neighborhood. The Wrens appeared on WUNC's The State of Things in early January. Click here to listen to the interview.
New to Durham? Wondering what this Eno River is that everyone keeps talking about? Before heading out with the boots, mosey over to this YouTube video created by the folks at the Great Outdoor Provision Company. It provides a pleasant, 3-minute trek over the river and through the woods. Longtime Durhamites will enjoy it, too!
A new park at the intersection of Erwin and Pickett Roads is being designed. Come learn about the Proposed Master Plan for the Hollow Rock Access Area at a public meeting to be held Wednesday, December 3 (two sessions: 6pm and 7pm). The meeting will be held at the New Hope Improvement Association, 4012 Whitfield Road, Chapel Hill [map]. Orange and Durham County Staff will be present to discuss and receive comments on the proposed Master Plan for this future public park and nature preserve. For more information, call Marabeth Carr at (919) 960-3880.
Bill Bussey of Triangle Rails to Trails tells us that construction is now in progress on the Chatham County section of trail, including the bridges! Read on to learn more details:
"Construction of the Chatham County section of the ATT has begun! Holmes Contracting is finishing up work on the first section of trail between the Chatham/Wake County line to the south, and New Hope Church Road to the north. They have now begun clearing work on the trail north of New Hope Church Road to Panther Creek and north to Pittard Sears Road. This section of trail is now CLOSED because it is a construction zone. They've been cutting down a LOT of trees. Please stay out of this area while construction is going on. Please read and heed all signs related to construction in this area.
"The Town of Cary has asked us to tell all that the ATT in Chatham County should be considered closed until the entire 4.6 mile section is opened in June 2009. Pray for good weather!
"Span Builders, LLC, which is the subcontractor for the Chatham County bridges, has now started construction on the Panther Creek trestle. They are accessing this via Pittard Sears Road. However, as mentioned above, trail clearing is happening between New Hope Church and Panther Creek. Please stay off the trail in this area."
Jim Wise at the News & Observer recently penned a piece about a new citizen's advisory committee, on which three DOST commissioners are members. The article appeared in the November 15 edition of The Durham News and is entitled, "New group forms to sift through Durham's environmental problems".
Read the full story here.
Ray Gronberg of the Herald-Sun shed light on a proposed, fare-free bus route that "will circle the southern portion of downtown every 10 minutes during the day" beginning in a few months.
"Leaving the [as-yet unfinished bus] station [at the corner of Willard and Chapel Hill Streets], the bus would turn right onto Jackson Street, then head north on Duke Street, turn right again onto West Main Street, and then bear left onto East Chapel Hill Street after crossing the downtown loop. After bisecting the heart of downtown on East Chapel Hill Street, the bus would turn right onto Mangum Street, make another right onto Jackie Robinson Place, pass the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, turn right onto Blackwell Street, pass the American Tobacco complex, and head back to the station with a left onto West Pettigrew."
The article appeared in the November 13 paper. Read the full story here.
The blog Bull City Rising also has detailed information and a conversation about this circulator. [Link].
DOST endorses -- and encourages voters to support -- the Prepared Meals Tax, to appear on the ballot this coming election. An estimated $19M will be available for the improvement and expansion of the Durham County greenways and trail system. Some of the projects that would benefit from this funding include:
West Ellerbe Creek Trail, Phase II
Third Fork Creek Trail, Phase II
West Point on the Eno
Pearsontown Trail 2
American Tobacco Trail
New Hope Trail
New Hope Preserve / Hollow Rock Park
For a complete list of projects, see this report [PDF].
The Triangle Land Conservancy, Triangle J Council of Governments, and Duke University would like to invite you to a regional conservation summit at the RTP headquarters on October 23rd. The summit will bring together various parties working on conservation initiatives in the Triangle in order to update information and share progress on innovative projects. The goal of the summit is to develop a shared sense of priorities and responsibilities to protect the green corridors of the Triangle. The information will be used to update progress on the Triangle GreenPrint and as a basis for regional planning efforts. Lunch will be provided with a suggested $5 donation. Please RSVP by emailing Leigh Ann Cienek at lcienek [AT] tlc-nc [DOT] org.
The schedule includes the following:
9:00 Sharing of Progress
9:20 Kick-off/ State of Open Space
9:45 Water Quality: Conservation for safe and abundant drinking water
10:30 Recreation: Conservation for greenways and passive recreation
11:15 Working Lands: Conservation for local food and forests
12:45 High Quality Natural Areas: Protecting significant habitats and wildlife
1:30 Funding: Local, State, and Alternative resources
2:15 Panel Discussion/ Break Outs
2:45 Wrap-up/ next steps
* note each of the sessions will be broken into two short presentations on local initiatives and a Q&A period.
The City of Durham Department of Public Works has announced that there will be an American Tobacco Trail I-40 Bridge Drop-In Information Meeting on Wednesday, September 17 from 5 to 7pm in the First Floor Council Chambers of City Hall. There will be no formal presentation, but City staff will be on hand to answer any questions.
Of the three bridge designs that were presented to the public earlier this year, the City staff have recommended the construction of the Low Profile Arch. More information about the decision process (and construction schedule) can be learned by reading through the staff summary [PDF].
Those with questions about the meeting should contact R. Lee Murphy, PE, Special Projects Engineer, City of Durham at (919) 560-4326 x230, or at leemurphy [AT] durhamnc [DOT] gov.
ANNOUNCING: A Public Comment Period on the Alternatives for the Regional Long Range Transportation Plan
The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) is currently evaluating transportation Alternatives for the region that list future highway, bus transit, light rail, bicycle, pedestrian and other transportation projects to be implemented through the year 2035. Citizens are encouraged to review the Alternatives and provide feedback through any of the following events and media.
www.dchcmpo.org -- Web site provides copies of the Alternative maps and tables and several options for citizens to provide feedback.
Public Workshops -- Citizens are asked to drop-in at any workshop to review, discuss and provide feedback:
Public Hearing -- Citizens can provide feedback to local elected officials (Transportation Advisory Committee); Wednesday, September 10, 2008, at 7:00PM in the Committee Room (2nd Floor of Durham City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza). Persons with disabilities will be accommodated -- provisions must be requested at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
Public Comment Period -- The public comment period will be open from Wednesday, August 20, 2008 through Wednesday, October 1, 2008. Comments should be forwarded to:
City of Durham, Transportation Division
101 City Hall Plaza
Durham, NC 27701
E-mail: andrew.henry [AT] durhamnc [DOT] gov
Phone: (919) 560-4366
DOST will be represented at the 35th Annual CenterFest Arts Festival in downtown Durham. The street festival takes place September 20 and 21, 2008 (Saturday and Sunday) and admission is free. Come visit our information booth and go home happy with arm-fulls of free maps!
Find out more about CenterFest at their website. [Link]
According to the City of Durham, the American Tobacco Trail will be detoured for three weeks beginning September 2. Their press release continues:
The City of Durham Department of Public Works is beginning the first step in a new trail connection from the Southside/St. Theresa neighborhood to the American Tobacco Trail.
A new ramp is to be constructed connecting the American Tobacco Trail to Apex Street. The demolition of the Apex Street Bridge is the second component of this project and will take place following completion of the ramp construction.
Due to this planned construction, a detour of the American Tobacco Trail is required between West Enterprise Street and Apex Street and will begin Tuesday, September 2, 2008. The detour will remain in place for approximately three weeks. According to the department, this detour is necessary for the relocation of an existing gas line associated with the Apex Street Bridge demolition.
Users of the American Tobacco Trail are asked to note that the trail will not be passable from West Enterprise Street north to Apex Street during this period and they will be required to use the detour. Signage providing directions to the detour will be posted on the trail.
This closure is the first of two scheduled closures of the American Tobacco Trail in this area. The second closure will be for the actual demolition of the Apex Street Bridge. Details regarding this second closure will be provided at a later date.
For additional information regarding this project, including a map of this scheduled detour, visit the City’s Web site at www.durhamnc.gov/departments/works/project_apex_bridge.cfm or contact Kyle Butler, civil engineer with the City’s Department of Public Works, at (919) 560-4326, extension 245 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Durham has been awarded an Urban and Community Forestry Grant through the NC Department of Environmental Resources. They will perform a city-wide tree canopy analysis but need volunteers to help collect tree data! If you have interest in helping out with this project, contact Alexander Johnson, of the General Services Department:
Alex Johnson RF, CA
Urban Foresty Manager
Phone: 560-4197 x275 || Email: Alexander.Johnson [AT] durhamnc [DOT] gov
UPDATE! As of September 22, Alex wrote, "Greetings tree inventory volunteers. I have a lot to update you on. This week marks the time we were scheduled to start training people on how to gather data. Unfortunately I encountered my first snag trying to get the grant contracts signed and returned to the state. In the process I learned that I need the approval of the Durham City Council to enter into this agreement. I was able to get on the agenda for the next council session, but this has put the project back until at least the end of October. This essentially puts the inventory project off until April." END OF UPDATE
Alex writes, "The City of Durham has been awarded an Urban and Community Forestry Grant through the NC DENR. The grant involves a partnership with the Davey Resource Group to do a city-wide tree canopy analysis using volunteers to collect and enter data. The final product of the grant will be a report detailing the benefits the city receives from its canopy as well as available planting sites and overall measurements of the forest's health and percentage of our streetscape that benefit from canopy coverage. The contract documents will be coming in next month, roughly coinciding with the time school begins.
"My partners with Davey will be coming down to do their training sessions sometime in a Sept. 22 - Oct. 10 window, so this would be the target date/deadline range for getting the volunteers rounded up and organized.
"I need to get the word out both for volunteers and for someone to coordinate that side of the project. Greg (copied) will be the full-time staff person assigned to this project, and I think he'd appreciate any help he could get in the volunteer recruitment, training and scheduling pieces of the project.
"The volunteers would go out with provided maps and use either PDA's or paper forms to take data points (consisting of 17 items- approx 3 min. per point) along randomly selected street segments. Those using forms would have to enter their own data. The PDA's would be rotated through the teams allowing everyone a chance to work with the devices."
On August 17, the News and Observer published part three in a series of articles about the North Carolina Mountains to Sea Trail, highlighting the segment that traverses the Triangle. Click on the following links to read the two sections of the story. (The third link send you to a Google Maps-based interactive trail route.)
The Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail have scheduled three more Triangle-based workdays in 2008 and need help clearing brush and moving logs. Read more from the MST website:
Wake and Durham Counties -- All land agencies have approved the MST routing from Rolling View to Santee Road - 3 miles. The Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail (FMST) will host a work day at Falls Lake, a segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, on Saturday - see above dates from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The day will also consist of new trail construction (natural surface - hiking only) such as clearing brush, moving logs, and picking up debris. Additional volunteers and volunteer groups are welcomed. Volunteers must RSVP to 919-868-6274 or email@example.com so we can plan work projects and have enough tools. Tools needed for the day include loppers, bowsaws, and mattocks. The FMST will supply most of the tools for this event. Please wear work clothes and bring a bag lunch, plenty of water, work gloves, hiking boots, and sunscreen. Sorry no dogs allowed at our workdays for safety reasons. If you are under the age of 12, please consult us before attending workdays.
All interested should meet at the Rolling View State Recreation Area at 9:00 AM shart. To get to Rolling View take Highway 98 to Baptist Road (at Neal Middle School) and follow it to Rolling View. Look for signs on the road that say "MST Work".
NEW for 2008 -- Section 13 from Highway 98 at Lick Creek to Rolling View is open - another 3.0 miles of the MST trail on the ground - go hike it and thank a FMST Falls Lake volunteer for making it happen!
The Durham County Public Library has one copy of the 30-minute film, New Hope Creek. Produced over 15 years ago, the video provides an informative and enjoyable journey of the waterway that traverses Orange and Durham Counties on its way to Jordan Lake.
Its call number is 917.56565 N. Check it out (literally)!
Here's some good news about the State's budget for the next fiscal year from the Land for Tomorrow Executive Committee:
On behalf of the Land for Tomorrow leadership team, we want to thank you for your help during the recent session of the N.C. General Assembly. The legislature officially adjourned on Friday, July 18, but not before approving funding that will help move the Land for Tomorrow agenda forward.
Thanks to your continued support and outreach to members of the General Assembly, our state will receive essential funds for the protection of drinking water, family farms, working forests, state parks and scenic vistas. Your calls, visits, e-mails and letters of support helped convince the General Assembly of the importance of increasing funding for these initiatives.
The final appropriations bill included $100 million for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, $50 million in Certificates of Participation (a form of debt) split between the Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (above their existing dedicated revenues), $4 million for the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and $1 million for the N.C. Community Development Initiative's conservation-based affordable housing program. All of these initiatives will help protect natural resources that are critical to North Carolina's economy and quality of life.
This was a tight budget year and members of the General Assembly had many competing interests for limited funding resources. We urge you now to personally thank your Senator and House members for their support.
Your help and support made a real difference in the successful outcome of this legislative session and we are grateful. We've come a long way, but there is still much to be done. We look forward to our continued work together to protect North Carolina's land and water for future generations.
According to Bill Bussey of the Triangle Rails to Trails Conservancy, "construction of the Chatham County section of the ATT should begin sometime in August, with anticipated completion no later than September of 2009."
Bill continues, "Keep in mind that significant portions of the trail that we maintain and are heavily used, will be closed during construction. TRTC, Chatham County, the Town of Cary, the City of Durham, and NCDOT all request that trail users stay out of the trail construction zones during this time."
Saturday, June 7 is a busy day for outdoor enthusiasts! June 7 plays host to both the National Trails Day and the NC Land Trust Day. Be sure to participate in the events listed on each linked website!
On Monday, June 2 City Council held a public meeting regarding the annual budget. Part of the budget concerns the NC-147 pedestrian bridge between Alston and Briggs Avenues.
The project to remove and replace the bridge stalled last year when the city learned they required another $1M for the project. The bridge replacement has been designed, and replacement of the old bridge was supposed to have started last year.
The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC-MPO) is able to allocate 'Surface Transportation Program-Direct Attributable' (STP-DA) funds for projects in its area. This year it chose to allocate $800,000 for the gap funding of the pedestrian bridge, requiring an additional $200,000 match from the city.
The Durham City Council is debating whether or not to include the $200,000 in this year's budget. Please contact the Council members and let them know we have waited for the NC-147 pedestrian bridge for quite some time, and that providing this match may be the only way to keep the project moving forward.
On Tuesday, April 29 architectural designer Steven Grover addressed a sizeable crowd at City Hall, offering a variety of proposed designs for the American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40. You can keep abreast of the project's details and history at the City's website CIP entry.
The final three general designs for the bridge (prefab steel truss; gentle undulating arch; and a cable-stayed signature bridge) can be viewed here (a PDF file).