A huge stumbling block preventing the completion of the Downtown Greenway has been cleared and construction on the final stage, the western leg, can begin.

The City of Greensboro announced Friday it has reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway to purchase rights to install the Greenway along the Norfolk Southern Railway Atlantic & Yadkin Railroad corridor under the railbanking provision of the National Trails System Act.

This agreement will allow the construction of the western segment that runs along the abandoned railroad tracks from Smith Street to Spring Garden Street.

Previous to this agreement all predictions on when the Downtown Greenway would be complete were suspect because the railroad had not given the city the right to build on its abandoned tracks and negotiations over railroad right-of-ways have been known to stretch on for years.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “This is truly exciting news as we can now close the gap and complete the Downtown Greenway.”

City Councilmember Justin Outling said, “It’s amazing news. The completion of the Greenway is going to further cement our reputation as a community with a great quality of life which provides people with a variety of opportunities to spend time out in nature.”

Outling added, “This is also going to lead to greater economic development in the form of commercial development in areas adjacent to the Greenway.”

The Downtown Greenway was identified on the Center City Master Plan in 2001 as one of three major projects needed to improve the downtown and will cost about $43 million.   The other two projects identified were Center City Park and a minor league baseball stadium.

So with the completion of the Downtown Greenway those three major downtown projects will be complete.