Charlotte to launch greenway construction by end of year

The city of Charlotte plans to start construction by the end of the year on nearly 13 miles of a 26-mile greenway that will stretch from Cabarrus County to Pineville.

The greenway, known as the Cross Charlotte Trail, will build new stretches of greenway and tie them with 7.6 miles of trails that have already been built.

When finished, someone could walk, jog or bike from one end of the city to another.

The City Council was briefed Monday on several aspects of its $816 million capital spending program, which it approved in 2013. The program will build roads, bridges, sidewalks, affordable housing and other projects throughout the city.

Most of the money will be spent in low-income areas in an effort to spark economic development. However, the trail will straddle both rich and poor areas.

The city’s first section of trail could be approved later this month by council members. That piece, known as the Cordelia Park segment, would start where the existing Little Sugar Creek Greenway ends at Parkwood Avenue. It would extend the greenway through Belmont.

A larger extension, which would run to UNC Charlotte, could begin if voters approve bonds next year.

There are already three sections of the trail that have been built. The county also will build another 5.5 miles.

The city hopes to the trail will create new development, especially north of uptown.

“We’re getting a lot of development interest,” said Dan Gallagher of the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Communications center

One of the biggest projects in the capital program is a $78 million new Joint Communications Center on Statesville Road that will house 911 dispatch, the 311 call center, the Charlotte Department of Transportation’s traffic management center and a city emergency operations center.

The city said it hopes to have construction plans nearly complete by September.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter questioned the wisdom of the city placing so many important communications components in one building. He said he hopes the city has planned how to protect the building.

“What an inviting target,” he said.

City Manager Ron Carlee said the city will take adequate precautions to ensure the building is safe. He said building the communications center far back from the road in an “office park” type of setting would have been inappropriate, he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes also questioned why the price of the building had increased since it was first discussed earlier this decade. Barnes said the original price was $60 million. City staff said they would have to research the possible increase in the center’s cost.

The city also outlined improvements for five neighborhoods:

▪ In the Whitehall/Ayrsley area, the city plans to widen Brown-Grier Road and Sandy Porter Road. It also plans to build a multi-use path along Westinghouse Boulevard to accommodate bikes and pedestrians.

▪ In the areas along Central Avenue and Albemarle Road, the city’s goal is to improve the prospects for new retail to open. Some improvements include a streetscape on Eastway Drive and a new sidewalk on Kilborne Drive.

▪  Prosperity Village, located along the new section of Interstate 485, is one of the fastest-growing areas of the city. The city will widen Ridge Road and extend it to the west toward Eastfield Road.

▪  In the Sunset Road/Beatties Ford Road areas north of Interstate 85, the city plans to improve pedestrian crossings on Beatties Road Road, improve the intersection of Oakdale and Sunset roads and make “multi-modal” improvements to Cindy Lane.

▪  The city wants to connect uptown with the neighborhoods on West Trade Street and Rozelles Ferry Road. Projects include improving the look of the I-77 underpass on West Trade Street to encourage more pedestrians; and building sidewalks on State Street and Turner Avenue.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs