STEELE CREEK NEWS
Dirtway is Open along Walker Branch
2014) Mecklenburg County's first
dirtway is open along Walker Branch and is already being
used by hikers. It is slightly over a half mile long and connects
the current paved greenway trail at RiverGate to Smith Road. Dirtways
are unpaved, rugged temporary trails located on Mecklenburg County
Near the south end of
the current paved Walker Branch Greenway trail, Park & Recreation staff
have placed stepping stones across Walker Branch (see below). Except
in times of high water, these will allow easy access across the
creek. Further down the dirtway, a bridge spans a wide ditch filled
with riprap rocks. The full route will be mowed regularly. The
dirtway currently isn't marked, but signs should go up this week.
of the Mecklenburg
County Park and
Recreation Department said "When we were placing the rocks, people
were already using them that day so that was cool to see."
Walkers and maybe
bikers (who may need to carry bikes at some places) should be able
to use the dirway, but not users of strollers and wheelchairs. If
it's been raining, expect to get your feet wet in the grass or
Park & Recreation staff plan to open additional dirtways along
future greenway routes. The next planned dirtway in the county,
along McDowell Creek west of Torrence Creek Greenway, still needs a
bridge to be installed before it is usable, so the Walker Branch Dirtway is the first.
Because it takes several years for a paved
greenway to be developed, dirtways will give citizens an opportunity to
enjoy the undeveloped greenway property in the meantime.
Dirtways will have
minimal maintenance and limited access. They will be mowed and have
some signage. Users will cross creeks, ditches, and wetlands over
flat stones, concrete pads, or small wooden platforms called bogboards.
Trees and brush will be removed where necessary to provide access
along the routes. Dirtways will be appropriate for walkers and maybe bikers, but
not for users of strollers and wheelchairs. Users should expect to get their
feet muddy. There is no dedicated funding for constructing and maintaining dirtways, so the cost will come out of general park operating funds.
generally will follow the routes of future planned greenway trails,
but the alignments could be different in some areas.
A temporary bridge had been placed across Walker
Branch last summer, but this has been removed. The bridge had a
permitting issue that would have cost thousands to keep it. Since
the dirtway program is all about opening these stretches with little
to no cost, the stones were placed across the creek instead.
Another bridge was placed over the riprap further south (this
section didnít need a permit because it wasnít across the main
channel of the creek).
The map below shows
the current Walker Branch Greenway Trail in solid green. The brown
dashed line to the southeast is the route of the newly opened Walker
Branch Dirtway. The northern brown dashed line shows the route of an
additional dirtway planned between S Tryon Street and Steele Creek
Road. County staff hope to open this section soon.
HERE or on the map to open a
larger, PDF version of the map in a new browser window.
Voters passed park
bonds in 2008 that included funding to build a greenway trail along
the route that the Walker Branch Dirtway now follows. Planning
for this trail likely won't begin for another year, and construction would occur a
few years later. The greenway trail will be paved with asphalt and
include a large, substantial bridge over Walker Branch that will
accommodate strollers and wheelchairs and can withstand flood waters. North Carolina Department of
Transportation plans to contribute to the construction cost, which
will allow completion earlier than otherwise.
An additional dirtway will be
located north of S Tryon St. The land along this route is either
already owned by the county or are
committed but not yet dedicated to the county.
has 37 miles of developed greenway trails but only a .4 mile trail in Steele
Creek. Trails are
slowly coming to Steele Creek, but they are expensive, costing as
much as $1,000,000 per mile. The Walker Branch Dirtway is a small advancement towards a
greenway network along Walker Branch, Steele Creek, and other
For more information,
Mecklenburg County Greenways and
Mecklenburg County DIRTways.
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