City Hall - Clayton, NC
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Construction Near on Sam's Branch Greenway

The Clayton Town Council has awarded a $443,273 contract to the local J.W. Grand company to build a 1.2-mile greenway along Sam's Branch from the Neuse River to North O'Neil Street, part of a plan to provide a recreational walking trail through town connecting with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

The local firm's price, the lowest of seven bids on the project, is much less than the $600,000 set aside for the Sam's Branch Greenway by the NC Dept. of Transportation, which means the project could be enhanced by adding more facilities, such as improvemets to the trailhead for improved hiker and vehicle access. Town Manager Steve Biggs said town officials will consider a range of options which would also be subject to approval by DOT.

Plans call for a 10-foot-wide asphalt multi-purpose trail with stabilized shoulders, suitable for both bicycles and pedestrians. It will connect with the section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that snakes through Johnston County near the Neuse River. Work is expected to begin later this month, with completion by the end of the year.

"Both this trail and the segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that comes though Johnston County are huge for this area," said Parks & Recreation Director Larry Bailey.

Long range plans call for the Greenway to connect with Legend Park and Municipal Park and to eventually extend to Clemmons State Forest. Additional sections will be constructed as funding becomes available.

Greenways that would allow residents to safely walk across parts of town have long been part of the planning process here. The Mountains-to-Sea-Trail fits right in.

The 1,000 miles of paths and bike trails that make up the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will wind from Clingman's Dome in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park to Jockey's Ridge State Park at the Atlantic Ocean. It wanders through 37 counties, three national parks, two national forests, several state parks, two national wildlife refuges, two wilderness areas, a number of swamps, several major rivers, and hundreds of lakes. The mainline distance is between 935 and 945 miles, but with ferry rides, spur trails to scenic overlooks and side trails to campsites, the actual journey will fall just short of 1,000 miles.

Spurred on by volunteers who spend weekends clearing the way, the Trail, a dream that began in the 1970s, is quickly becoming a reality.