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Carrboro to construct bridge on Jones Creek as part of Bolin Creek Greenway

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The Bolin Creek Greenway on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.

In an effort to enhance connectivity and as a part of its Bolin Creek Greenway master plan, Carrboro is planning to construct a pedestrian bridge along the Jones Creek Greenway.

The project includes a multi-use path and pedestrian bridge that will create walking and cycling options for the Lake Hogan Farms, Legends, Ballentine and Fox Meadow neighborhoods. The greenway will also connect to Morris Grove Elementary.

Carrboro Town Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell said creating a bridge will protect the Jones Creek ecological area.

“It needs a bridge to span the most impactful areas that, without a bridge, they would be compacted and hardened and impact the wildlife and the wetland organisms that live there,” she said.

In 2009, the Town of Carrboro created the Bolin Creek Greenway Conceptual Master Plan. Envisioned as a comprehensive initiative to revitalize the Bolin Creek and Jones Creek corridors, the plan seeks to incentivize non-motorized transportation options and foster community integration and environmental stewardship.

The Bolin Creek Greenway master plan includes five phases, and connecting the Jones Creek Greenway to other parts of the path is part of Phase 2.

Trish McGuire, Carrboro's planning director, said in an email the broader community will benefit from the Jones Creek Greenway bridge, which will reduce reliance on vehicular transportation while mitigating environmental impacts.

Haven-O'Donnell said greenways can also be ecological tools to help protect the environment.

The Friends of Bolin Creek, a Carrboro nonprofit, said in a July 2023 blog post that the Bolin Creek Greenway plan encroaches into the riparian buffer, which will cause detrimental harm to habitats and water quality.

But, Haven-O’Donnell said Bolin Creek is much larger than Jones Creek, and some community members have concerns about placing a paved path along Bolin Creek, which she said has already been impaired.

Town council member Jason Merrill said the Town government does everything possible to reduce negative environmental impact in the creation of greenways. 

“For every stage of development of this greenway, all the stages that have already occurred and all of the stages to come, an environmental review — an exhaustive environmental review — is part of every stage of construction,” Merrill said.

McGuire said public hearings were held at both 30 and 60 percent of the design process for the Jones Creek Greenway — which is now at 90 percent design completion. Haven-O’Donnell said community members have given positive feedback about the Jones Creek Greenway project, and found it to be minimally invasive to open space and natural areas.

“There have been public meetings to walk this area as well, for people who might be interested in it,” McGuire said. 

She said even though the proposed bridge is a small section of the Jones Creek Greenway, she anticipates the development of more connecting bridges after the construction of Twin Creeks Park.

The Town plans to amend the municipal agreement for the Jones Creek Greenway with the N.C. Department of Transportation to add local discretionary funds to the project budget.

“Greenways, first and foremost, are about health,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “They are about health of the environment and the health of the wildlife corridor, the health of human beings who walk, hike and cycle. We get ourselves into a space that is connecting us with nature.”

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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