The second phase of the Riverwalk Greenway Trail, which runs along the EnoRiver in Hillsborough, could be open for the public use by the summer, according to the Town staff.
Town Planner Stephanie Trueblood said it was originally anticipated that the one-mile trail, with a projected cost of $1.86 million, would be open by the fall.
“We may be able to open a little bit earlier than we had originally anticipated, despite some pretty severe weather this winter. The project is currently on schedule and within budget,” Trueblood said.
On Wednesday, March 26, the project celebrated a milestone.
Two 100-foot bridges were erected by a 250-ton crane, as a sizable crowd of town residents, including Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens, watched on.
“Putting the bridges in place has been of enormous significance to the community,” Trueblood said. “The idea for Riverwalk was actually initiated by citizens and community members more than 15 years ago. I think there was a real emotional feeling of success when we saw those bridges lifted.”
Each bridge spans about 100 feet over the Eno River.
The first is located south of Calvin Street and will connect to Hillsborough’s Gold Park in the western section of town.
The second bridge is north of the Eno River Parking Deck and Gateway Center on Nash and Kollock Streets in downtown Hillsborough, which will serve as Riverwalk’s formal entrance.
The next step is to connect the bridges to the boardwalk system. Following the completion of the work on the boardwalk, pavement will be laid on the rest of the trail. Final touches will also be added to landscaping and pedestrian amenities, such as benches.
Trueblood explained that it will be part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail and is the first segment of that trail to be constructed in Orange County.
“Riverwalk is really important to this community because it connects our existing local and regional trail systems from Occoneechee Mountain to the Occoneechee Mountain Speedway. It brings the Mountains-to-Sea Trail directly into Historic Downtown Hillsborough.”
The second phase of construction is partially funded by a $425,000 grant from the N.C.Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, according to a Town news release. The Town has committed more than $3 million to the project since its inception, which has been leveraged by more than $1 million in grants.
The first section of Riverwalk opened in 2009, with nearly 1 mile of paved loop trails in Gold Park, located on Dimmocks Mill Rd. in West Hillsborough.