The town of Matthews' new greenway system is one step closer to being part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
The regional network of trails, waterways and conservation corridors recently gave the town a $20,000 grant to explore how its Four Mile Creek Greenway and planned greenway system could best connect to the larger trail network.
Leaders of the Catawba Land Conservancy, which oversees the Carolina Thread Trail (launched in 2007), hope the trail network will ultimately reach 15 counties in North and South Carolina and more than 2.3 million people.
Tillery said the town plans to use the $20,000 to hire consultants to study the geographic landscape and the feasibility of the undertaking.
"You take a look, parcel by parcel...at how the trail is laid out and what opportunities and barriers are presented," said Lee Tillery, director of the town's Parks, Recreational and Cultural Resource Department.
Like a green interstate system, the Carolina Thread Trail won't connect every local trail. But it will link regionally significant trails and attractions.
A joint project between Mecklenburg County and the town of Matthews, Four Mile Creek Greenway - the first greenway within the town limits - offers more than two miles of paved trails, pedestrian bridges, a boardwalk and entrances from surrounding neighborhoods.
Mecklenburg County constructed the greenway from East John Street to Brenham Lane and from Squirrel Lake Park to the former Matthews Public Works Facility.
The town constructed a connector path from the former public works facility to South Trade Street.
The greenway connects a number of neighborhoods, as well as Squirrel Lake Park, Matthews Elementary School and Matthews Community Center.
It also provides alternate access to downtown Matthews.
Four Mile Creek Greenway has become popular since its grand opening in April this year, and people are already inquiring about additional entrances, Tillery said.
"We want to continue that as we move forward."