Making a significant direct investment in trails for the first time, the state of North Carolina allocated nearly $30 million to a newly created Complete the Trails Fund in the 2021-22 state budget. As a result, the East Coast Greenway is poised for continued expansion in the Tar Heel State.
The majority of the monies allocated for the Complete the Trails Fund will be designated for North Carolina’s 12 official State Trails, which now includes the East Coast Greenway. In June, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 130 into law, officially designating the Greenway as a unit of the North Carolina State Parks system and an official North Carolina State Trail.
In North Carolina, the East Coast Greenway features a 365-mile spine route and a 425-mile complementary coastal route. The 75-mile stretch from North Durham through Cary, Raleigh and Clayton forms the most complete metro area along the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.
With this year’s designation, the East Coast Greenway is eligible for a wider variety of funding mechanisms and other forms of support for trail planning and construction in North Carolina, which now includes the Complete the Trails Fund.
The Complete the Trails Fund can be used for trail planning and design, land acquisition, trail construction and maintenance, signage and matching funds from federal grants. Small municipalities along the East Coast Greenway route with populations less than 25,000 can specifically benefit from $2 million allocated for trail feasibility studies.
“This dramatic increase in state funding for trails is tremendous news for not only the East Coast Greenway but the people of North Carolina who will enjoy the many benefits of trails and greenways,” said East Coast Greenway Alliance Virginia and North Carolina Manager Sarah Sanford. “There is a great deal of momentum for the East Coast Greenway in the state, and we look forward to working closely with state and local officials on continued development of our route.”
With the East Coast Greenway playing a key role, the Great Trails State Coalition led the advocacy effort to secure this significant increase in state funding. The Great Trails State Coalition is a new, “broad-based group of diverse organizations, agencies and supporters advocating for increased state investment in all types of trails statewide – hiking, paddle, mountain bike, equestrian and paved.”
Added Sanford, “The latest state budget demonstrates the kind of annual investment that can complete the East Coast Greenway in North Carolina and create nearly 800 miles for safe, active transportation. It is our hope that this will be a recurring investment.”
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