RALEIGH -- William B. Umstead State Park will expand and improve access to the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead and multi-use trails in accordance with its general management plan and will explore ways to improve access to the park?s U.S. 70 entrance, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The state parks system dropped consideration of a third vehicle park entrance and parking area in the Graylyn Drive/Ebenezer Church Road area. That alternative had been proposed in response to concerns from park users about restrictions on parking near the Graylyn Drive pedestrian entrance.
The park maintains vehicle entrances and primary parking areas off U.S. 70 and at Harrison Avenue near Interstate 40.
?Our overriding philosophy must be to minimize the development footprint at Umstead as one way to protect the wild and natural landscape of this state park,? said Lewis Ledford, director of the division.
State parks system planners determined that a third park entrance for vehicles would raise security issues, increase traffic in adjacent neighborhoods, invite unauthorized, after-hours entry into the park and threaten natural areas with pressure to enlarge the entrance in the future.
In recent years, demand for access to multi-use trails on the park?s eastern side has increased dramatically. The park will widen and improve an existing road to the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead from the U.S. 70 entrance. Equestrian and day-use parking at the trailhead will be separated and enlarged, and a new multi-use trail segment will connect the parking areas to the existing trails system.
The park?s general management plan calls for the Sycamore Bike and Bridle Trailhead to eventually become an expanded day-use area.
Late in 2008, the park began opening the U.S. 70 entrance one hour earlier at 7 a.m. to provide better trail access and has begun design of an expanded parking area at the visitor center. To address general access issues, park administrators will explore the possibility of a stoplight at the U.S. 70 entrance or a new access road from an existing stoplight, and will request a sidewalk be installed on Ebenezer Church Road for safer pedestrian access. The park will also work closely with the city of Raleigh to improve greenway connections to the park.
Public comment on three proposed access alternatives was invited in 2008, and 249 responses were useful in determining park visitor priorities. An alternative proposing a parking area on or near Graylyn Drive proved to be the most controversial, receiving both the greatest number of positive comments and the greatest number of objections. The other alternatives were to follow the recommendations of the general management plan and to leave existing access and facilities in place.
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