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Clayton's Getting a Pedestrian Tunnel & Greenway Extension into Downtown!


Clayton Set to Build Tunnel & Greenway Extension into Downtown Clayton!
Construction will mean temporary shutdowns of O’Neil Street & Sam’s Branch Trailhead

Construction is about to begin on a $3.5 million greenway extension that calls for tunneling under O’Neil Street to extend the Sam’s Branch Greenway to Legend Park, giving walkers, runners and bicyclists a safe and scenic trail into Downtown Clayton. This popular trail is part of the East Coast Greenway and connects to the Clayton River Walk on the Neuse section of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Currently, the greenway dead ends at O’Neil Street.  

The Town of Clayton Economic Development Office helped to secure millions in Federal Highway Administration funds from the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for the Phase II of Sam’s Branch Greenway. This successful lobbying brings incredible savings to town taxpayers with $3,570,338 in federal funds going toward the project and Town being responsible for only $714,067 of that cost. 

The project work will include construction of 1.41 total miles of trail, consisting of 1.34 miles of new 10-foot-wide asphalt pathways, 270 feet of new 10-foot-wide wooden boardwalks, 60 feet of new steel bridge construction, a pedestrian tunnel under O’Neil Street and all of the associated roadwork, clearing, drainage, erosion control, and signage on the greenway.


The Fred Smith Company successfully bid the project and their construction crews will begin staging equipment and preparing for work. Due to some construction adjustments, crews will not be beginning the trail work at the Sam’s Branch Greenway Trailhead, 1358 N. O'Neil Street, as first planned. Instead, they'll be beginning at Legend Park off City Rd.  This park will close to the public the week of Oct. 6th and stay closed for an undetermined amount of time until construction and equipment can be safely cleared for public use. Trail users will not be able to park or access the trails at Legend. As construction of the new greenway moves east from Legend Park toward the Sam's Branch Trailhead and Parking Lot, those access areas will need to be closed temporarily as well for the safety of the public. Orginially, that parking lot and trail access was set to close Sept. 11th, but a new plan for construction has that closure being pushed back to a date yet to be determined. When that closure nears, we'll share more details. Greenway users will always be able to access the parking lot and trailhead at the Clayton River Walk on the Neuse Greenway (our section of the Mountains to Sea trail) and the Sam's Branch greenway, but heading to that popular access at 2686 Covered Bridge Road. Click to see a map of both trails.


The most difficult part of this project is construction of a pedestrian tunnel under busy O’Neil Street at the Sam’s Branch Greenway trailhead. This work was expected to begin mid-October and run up to the Thanksgiving holiday, however, a new construction approach, has the date for that closure being delayed. To safely complete this work, O’Neil Street will need to be BLOCKED at some point to ALL vehicle traffic at this location. The Fred Smith Company and the Town of Clayton are working closing with NCDOT, town and county public safety officials and Johnston County Public School leaders to expedite the tunnel work and shorten the closure when it occurs. Again, a date has not yet been determined for this road closure. Residents of the Ashcroft subdivision will still be able to access their neighborhood entrance, however, they will not be able to turn south to head into Downtown Clayton. All traffic will need to detour using Covered Bridge Road to City Rd. to Stallings Street and to Robertson to access Main Street or US70. See detour map below and click to enlarge

A portion of O'Neil Street will be closed to LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY from Oakdale Avenue and Atwood Drive near the entrance of the Ashcroft neighborhood. We’ll be sure to share updates when crews get to the point in construction where they need to close O’Neil Street to vehicle traffic and being these detours and restrictions on travel. 

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