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Phase 1 of Carrboro's Morgan Creek Greenway could be funded by new amendment

Morgan Creek Greenway will eventually connect Smith Level Road to University Lake.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization Board released a Transportation Improvement Program amendment that, if adopted at its January meeting, will fully fund construction of Phase 1 of the Morgan Creek Greenway in Carrboro.

The TIP amendment will add Carrboro’s remaining discretionary funds from the federal government's Surface Transportation Block Grant program to Phase 1 of Carrboro’s Morgan Creek Greenway. The TIP funding totals $732,094.

Carrboro’s Morgan Creek Greenway will eventually connect Smith Level Road to University Lake with a potential spur to Carrboro High School.

Phase 1 would begin at the Smith Level Road bridge and extend west along the north side of Morgan Creek. The path would then cross Morgan Creek to an end point near an existing informal pedestrian network in the nearby woods, for a total of approximately 1,850 feet.

Carrboro mayor and member of the DCHC-MPO board Damon Seils said DCHC-MPO's purpose is to discuss and prioritize state and federal funding for all transportation matters. At the organization, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Orange County, Durham County and Chatham County collaborate to develop a long-term transportation plan in the Triangle and allocate funds to support those projects, he said.

“We rely very heavily on federal funds to support these projects because they're expensive,” he said. “Part of our allocation of federal funds here in Carrboro is now available to be used for this phase one and we're excited about that because we think it'll be enough to get it fully built.”

Danny Nowell, a Town of Carrboro council member and alternate board member of the DCHCMPO, said the TIP amendment funds the remainder of what is needed to construct Phase 1, which had also been partially funded with a different grant.

“We identified an opportunity to get the Greenway project enough funds to begin construction without having to raise more funds from the town's capital budget,” he said.

Carrboro Planning Administrator Tina Moon said in an email that the design of Carrboro’s Morgan Creek Greenway is 90 percent complete and will connect with the Morgan Creek Greenway in Chapel Hill by way of an underpass connection near the Smith Level Road bridge.

Pam Hemminger, Chapel Hill mayor and DCHCMPO board member, said the purpose of the Morgan Creek Greenway goes beyond recreational uses.

“What we want to be able to do is connect a network of greenways within Chapel Hill and to our neighbors in Carrboro and Durham as well so that people can stop thinking of them as just linear parks and start using them as actual transit corridors for walking and biking and rolling,” she said. "It's very exciting."

Seils said greenway projects have the capability to connect the community, and that the Morgan Creek Greenway has networking potential.

“It's going to be a fantastic amenity for not only the adjacent neighborhoods, but also connecting all the folks who live in our southern neighborhoods, whether they live in apartment complexes along Jones Ferry Road or in the neighborhoods along Morgan Creek itself,” he said. “It will make it possible for them to get from southern Carrboro all the way over into Chapel Hill and beyond without having to cross a roadway, which is great for safety, great for public health and great for the environment.”

@DTHCityState |

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