The American Tobacco Trail's long history is, in and of itself, a metaphor for the broader revitalization of the Bull City. Inspired by citizens passionate about their community; executed through a mix of hard-fought advocacy, volunteer labor, and finally public dollars; on completed portions, a beautiful and natural pathway through Durham's diverse, wealthy and working-class neighborhoods. A jewel in the rough; and, a public project that, years after its start, remains incomplete.
Durham city officials made a good start on the trail in the late 1990s and early 2000s, completing the linchpin of Durham's greenway system from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park/ATHD complex all the way to NC 54 and Fayetteville Rd. But even as Wake and even Chatham County have moved forwards with their portions -- the ATT will eventually link up to trails running all the way to central Raleigh -- Durham has lagged woefully behind. Or as Joe Miller, outdoor and fitness guy at the N&O has put it, the Bull City will likely be home to the first segment and last segments of the ATT to be completed.
The key missing piece on most trail users' minds? The "signature" bridge across I-40, connecting Southpoint and the southernmost Durham segments of the ATT with the northern segment. Federal funds were earmarked (with David Price's help) two years back in one of Congress' regurgitations of tax dollars towards transportation programs, but the project got mired in local politics and design ambitions, negotiations with NCDOT, and design elements. (It's noteworthy that Durham's parks and rec department currently has a large staff devoted to its recreation centers, but practically no one for its greenway system, despite the very heavy utilization of the greenways throughout the City.)
At last, the design phase is underway (as we discussed here, all the way back in February, with the help of funds from other capital projects from the '96 bond.) And tonight, after so many fits and starts, the City will hold a community meeting to discuss the pedestrian/bike bridge over I-40, this long-suffering missing link of the ATT. (See more from Jim Wise's helpful update on the ATT, EEC and Durham Freeway projects in this week's Durham News.)
Tonight's meeting will start promptly at 7pm in the second floor committee room in City Hall downtown. More from ATT sparkplug Bill Bussey on the meeting below, but one point bears emphasis: if you care about the ATT, come to tonight's meeting. At least one group of bicyclists is planning a group ride up the trail to downtown to help advocate for the project; here's hoping other citizens interested in bike and ped issues find time to make it, too. For those who can't make it, look for a project update in Wednesday's BCR.
Here's the full scoop from Bussey:
This is to announce a Community Meeting to discuss the planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing of I-40 for the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) near Fayetteville Road. The meeting will be held Tuesday, November 13, 2007 in the 2nd Floor Committee Room of Durham City Hall 101 City Hall Plaza in downtown Durham.
The meeting, which is being hosted by the City of Durham Department of Public Works, and being facilitated by Steven Grover and Associates, will allow public and stakeholder input on the initial design and planning of the long anticipated bicycle and pedestrian bridge carrying the American Tobacco Trail across I-40.
This is your opportunity to get information -and more importantly - offer feedback, suggestions, thoughts, concerns, ideas, needs, goals, desires and other input to help make this bridge and connecting trail, the absolute best it can be.
The meeting will start promptly at 7 p.m. with a presentation by Durham staff and the consultants. This will be followed by group discussion and questions.
While participants will be offered a questionnaire to provide input, all will take part in a group discussion on such things as ranking goals and desires of the bridge and trail itself, importance of the bridge being a "signature" bridge, experience and priority of both the bridge user and those viewing the bridge from the highway or from a distance, lighting, bridge and trail width, crime and safety thoughts, solutions and concerns, adjacent and nearby property owner concerns, and a whole lot more.
This is an exciting time for the ATT as this represents the first significant action on the ATT in Durham in several years. We hope that all interested in the ATT in general, and this very significant bridge - which is probably the most significant exclusively bicycle and pedestrian bridge EVER built in the Triangle, and probably ever WILL be built in the Triangle,
I hope we'll have a standing room only crowd at this meeting because we want demonstrate and show staff, elected officials, press and the public at large, that this bridge and connected trail IS important and significant to the Triangle and North Carolina.
Should you have any questions or input regarding this meeting, please contact Byron Brady, PD CPESC, Contract Engineer, City of Durham at 919 560-4326 x 296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions regarding this message, or want to chat about the trail or bridge, or don't know who to ask or talk to about your ideas or concerns, please feel free to contact Bill Bussey Triangle Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 919 545-9104 americantobaccotrail@embarqmail
For more information on the American Tobacco Trail please see our website at www.triangletrails.org.