The expansion of greenways and trail systems has been an exciting movement within the United States. Greenspaces have proven to be vital to the revitalization of cities by promoting healthier lifestyles, encouraging economic growth and facilitating environmentally friendly developments. The cities listed below have made a priority of improving their communities with trails, parks and greenspaces. In doing so, they’ve set precedents and shared best practices for other cities, counties or agencies to follow.
Let’s take a closer look at a few cities that are making strides in greenspace development, with big plans on the horizon.
Innovators in Greenspace Development and Design
The City and Rotary Club of Birmingham, AL
In Birmingham, Alabama, plans are in place this year to extend the city’s Railroad Park. The Rotary Trail project - expanding the park from 20th Street to 24th Street along First Avenue South - has been in discussion for about 25 years, and 2014 may be the year it finally becomes a reality. The design will repurpose the old “railroad cut” throughout the city and turn the area into urban greenways that will beautify and transform the city.
The design by Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood was approved by the Birmingham Design Review Committee toward the end of last year. The $3.5M project is funded primarily by the Rotary Club of Birmingham (which put up $2.5M in celebration of its 100th anniversary), as well as the City of Birmingham, which will contribute updated landscaping and lighting to enhance the trail’s appeal along First Avenue South.
The trail is designed to have space for walking, running, benches, picnic spaces, landscaping and amenities from boardwalks to amphitheaters. The city expects that the new trail will bolster and attract business in Birmingham.
The Rotary Trail will likely be advertised for bid in June and construction could be completed in eight months. We look forward to seeing how this linear park will impact Birmingham over the next 5-10 years. The photo above from 2005 shows the abandoned rail line along First Avenue South, while the video below gives an updated look at what's ahead for this exciting project.
The City of Detroit and the GREEN Task Force
In January 2012, The Villages Community Development Corporation of Detroit published a study for the development of greenspaces for the Greater Riverfront East District, declaring it not a simple idea but a plan for action. The project, performed by Detroit’s GREEN (Greater Riverfront East Environmental Network), plans to connect the diverse neighborhoods in the region to one another and to the Detroit River.
The several planned trails include both pedestrian and vehicular paths, particularly those for cyclists. This study acts as a vision, implementation guide and priority list for greenway development to be completed over the next 15 to 20 years. It’s a bold plan that focuses on building a stronger economy and healthier communities.
The City of Raleigh, NC
The City of Raleigh’s greenway and trail systems have been a priority since 1974 and only continued to grow since. The city boasts 28 public trails in the Capital Area Greenway System, encompassing more than 100 miles over 3700 acres. Nearly 20 park projects are in the works for Raleigh today, ranging from concept to design to construction phase.
The City of Raleigh’s progress in greenway and trail design and development is guided largely by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources System Plan, crafted to direct the process for the next 20 years.
The Town of Cary, NC
Not far from Raleigh is the city of Cary, North Carolina, which frequently ranks on lists of the best small cities to live in, and has a thriving system of parks and greenways. PermaTrak is proud to have played a role in the Town of Cary’s trail development – designing and producing several boardwalk structures as part of their 70-mile trail system. The photo to the right is a PermaTrak boardwalk on White Oak Greenway, which is shown on the map below.
Greenspace development can be a very valuable investment for a city. When designed and implemented correctly, the local economy benefits, the community grows, and residents’ lives improve.
- Charlotte, NC - 1st Concrete Boardwalk at McAlpine Creek Greenway
- Multi Use Trail Design: 6 Economic Benefits
- Bike Path Design: Improvements, Performance and Opinions
Photo Credits: 1st photo by Dystopos