CHAPEL HILL — Construction of the Carolina North greenway will begin this week, causing portions of the 2.5 mile Pumpkin Loop trail that cross the construction area to be closed for about four months for safety reasons.
A rerouted, shorter (1.89 miles) Pumpkin Loop will be marked for use while the other portions are closed. Maps and other directional signs posted on site show detours around the closed sections and available alternate recreation routes.
The parking lot at the trailhead will remain open, but trail users will no longer have access to the Pumpkin Loop from entrances at Orange County Human Services, the Seymour Senior Center and Chapel Ridge Apartments. Access points in the Glen Heights neighborhood and at the Municipal Drive entrance to the construction site as well as a portion of the Wormhole Trail used to access the Pumpkin Loop all will be posted “closed.”
Over the next four months, Carolina Conduit Systems construction crews will grade the path and pave a 10-foot-wide asphalt greenway along the same utility corridor that contains an underground ductbank. They will install a bolted-panel chain link fence on both sides of the corridor from the PSNC easement crossing to the south to Homestead Road to the north. Construction vehicles and heavy equipment will be using the corridor, including the sections that cross the Pumpkin Loop, to access the project.
Runners, bikers and others who cross over fencing into the construction zone risk serious injury to themselves. The less disruption there is to the construction site, the quicker the greenway can be completed and the entire Pumpkin Loop reopened, construction supervisors said.
When completed this summer, the paved greenway will offer access to the forest to many unable or reluctant to use the current dirt and gravel trails: those in wheelchairs, parents pushing strollers, casual cyclists and children on skates or tricycles. The sides of the greenway will be landscaped with native plants and two granite and stone benches. The greenway will connect, eventually, to the planned Horace Williams Trail to the north and the proposed Campus-to-Campus Connector greenway to the south.
For the latest information on trail use during the construction period, check the Carolina North Forest website ( carolinanorthforest.unc.edu) or signs on site at the information kiosks and along the trails.