Battleground Rail Trail

Kudos to General Greensboro for highlighting this article which led me to this article. I've heard rumor of this trail but nobody had been able to provide facts relating to it. Even armed with the name of the trail I am finding very limited information about the rail-trail conversion. GDOT had this but no one else appears to be talking about this project on the Internet which I find utterly amazing.

The current phase of the project will run the trail from the end of the Bicentenial Greenway next to Mt Pisgah UMC on Pisgah Church Rd down to Markland Avenue. A tunnel will be used to get around the traffic on Cone Blvd but I wonder how traffic will be handled at the Martinsville Rd and Pisgah Church Rd crossings.

A quick look at satellite photos overlaid on the old rail alignment shows the homes and businesses that adjoined the old rail bed have taken over the space of the old rail right of way. Where I to guess about the alignment of the trail I would expect it to use Isaac Pl from Pisgah Church Rd to Martinsville Rd. Then comes the challenge of crossing Martinsville Rd. Despite a 30 MPH speed limit a large number of road users appear to confuse this street with the speedway of the same name. Combine this with short site lines and substantial traffic (frequently and issue during the evening commute for me) and you have a very difficult crossing. Add to this the fact that following Isaac Pl puts one a hundred yards east of the rail alignment and the problems start to compound. Do you follow Martinsville to get back unto the rail alignment or follow Lane Rd to Patriot Way which eventually realigns on the old rail bed.

The other alternative that I can see is to follow Isaac Pl about 200-250 yards to get around the back of the mini-mall that sits squarely on the old rail alignment. At that point follow that property lines back to the alignment. Now this reduces some of the Martinville Rd conflicts as the crossing will be closer to Battleground and eastbound motorists won't have time to accelerate to uncontrollable speeds while the sight lines to the west are improved by the higher elevation.

There still are problems though with the Pisgah Church Rd crossing though. If it is made at the original rail alignment it will be nearly 100 ft wide and eastbound traffic exiting off northbound Battleground does not have a stop sign or red light. Given my experience in Greensboro marked crosswalks mean nothing to local drivers so crossing here would be extraordinarily dangerous. Crossing from the Bicentennial Parkway to Isaac Pl is only marginally better but could easily be improved with a concrete pedestrian island to afford some protection from eastbound motorists heading for Forest Lawn Dr who might cheat over to the turning lane without checking for pedestrians or cyclists trying to cross. I really don't understand why this isn't already in place given Isaac Pl is the northern end of Bike Route 9.

On Yer Bike!


  1. Hey Michael,

    The thing about the Battleground Rail Trail is that it has been SO long in the making that most of the folks who were really excited about it when the project was first proposed have long since written it off as a lost cause. If I'm not mistaken, it's been close to 20 years. I worked in the GDOT planning division for almost 5 years, and its been 3.5 years since I left, and the project was already old when I started with GDOT.

    Also, the BRT, as it's sometimes called (not to be confused with Bus Rapid Transit) has since been upstaged by the Downtown Greenway, which broke ground this past Spring, and has already completed the first segment from South Eugene Street to West Lee Street. In fact, a long segment of what was originally to be an extension of the BRT has now been rolled into the Downtown Greenway, to form its western leg, from Spring Garden Street to the vicinity of Hill Street and Battleground Avenue.

    A third issue with the BRT is the fact that the segment between Markland Drive (the southern terminus of the segment that's now under construction) and Spring Garden Sreet, may never get built. The problem is that the rail line is still active in that segment. It only sees a few trains per month, but as long as the sole remaining customer on that spur (Chandler Concrete) is still in business and hasn't found a suitable new site to relocate to, Norfolk Southern will not abandon the right of way.

    So yes, we're all glad to see that the BRT has finally broken ground (it's expected to be complete by Spring), and it will make bicycling in that area a lot more pleasant for a lot of people, but the project-delivery part of this story is a bit frustrating. Anyway, contact GDOT for more information!

    Jeff Sovich

  2. Thanks Jeff. Turns out I was wrong about the trail alignment along the Isaac Pl segment. While commuting at the end of the past week I could see the crews clearing brush directly on the old rail bed. I should have taken a picture, maybe later this week. I have one pic taken at the intersection of Isaac Pl and Martinsville Rd that shows the trail heading south from Martinsville. I will need to do a little further exploration this week to get some better shots for the blogs.