Yesterday I went to the second community feedback session for the forthcoming Cross Charlotte Trail (#XCLT), a 26-mile greenway running from the South Carolina state line all the way up to Cabarrus County.
This is, in my opinion, one of the the most exciting development projects we’ve got going for us as a city but also one that requires the most patience since the entire trail should be completed sometime within the next decade. Yeah, decade. Here’s what to know now…
Who has a say in this?
Everybody. Just come to a feedback session. Public response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. In fact, project manager Joe Frey said the only complaint he’s heard so far is that it can’t be done faster. The second biggest complaint is that it doesn’t run through every neighborhood. “People want it done now and they want it in their neighborhood now,” he said, “but we have to do it right.”
Part of doing it right involves collecting tons of feedback from the community at sessions like yesterday’s public event. We all got sheets of colored stickers and were instructed to stick them on different signs to vote on everything from preferred trailside amenities (water fountains, benches, dog parks, bike repair stations, etc.) to where the trail should run in certain stretches.
A similar meeting was held back in January regarding a “high priority” stretch of the trail from Brandywine to Tyvola. The majority of people said they’d use the trail for cycling and that Park Road Shopping Center would be their top destination.
If you missed the first two meetings, don’t fret. You’ll have more chances to be heard later this summer or early fall. Until then, you can keep an eye on their site for meeting updates and email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much will it cost?
The project has been funded thus far by a $5 million public improvement bond secured in 2014, which has covered the planning and projections. A second $30 million bond is coming up in 2016 for construction.
Don’t we already have some trails?
Yes we do. #XCLT will utilize 7.6 miles of existing trails (Little Sugar Creek Greenway, for example), and the county and city will build the remaining 18 miles to fill in missing segments.
Where does it go?
While some segments of the trail are still being mapped out (decisions like: should it cross a bridge here or divert over there?), the main north-south route is set and will hit points of interest from the Polk Historic Site in Pineville all the way up to PNC Music Pavilion.
What’s the big picture? What’s the point of this trail?
Charlotte ranks dismally low among US cities in terms of total trail mileage. This is garbage. In fact, program manager Vivian Coleman said the city just flat out didn’t prioritize building sidewalks and trails for like 50 years. Now we have to backtrack to become the walkable city people are demanding today. The addition of Cross Charlotte Trail will put us among the top 25 cities in the country with the most multi-use trails. Why does that matter? Trails improve quality of life for residents (recreation, commuting, connectivity) while also driving tourism and development. (If you’re Ted, you may notice Atlanta is not on this list at all.) But this is just the beginning. If the full #XCLT plan (which wasn’t revealed) is implemented, we’ll jump up to just below Austin on this list as one of the top 5 cities in the country for multi-use trails.
Aside from this being a very exciting project, I thought the event was executed flawlessly and felt like I really had a stake in what’s going on (even though this was the first I’d heard of it). Keep an eye out for another feedback session later this summer or early fall.
Also I want it built, like, yesterday, Joe.