The City of Belmont is working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to build a 10-foot greenway adjacent to the inactive railroad corridor that runs from downtown Belmont north to Belmont Abbey College that would provide a safe and convenient pedestrian and bicycle connection between downtown, the Sisters of Mercy, Belmont Abbey College, and North Belmont. It is also a part of the Carolina Thread Trail.
Belmont Trolley, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is currently working to restore a trolley car to run on the tracks capable of shuttling up to 20 commuters, residents and visitors parallel to the greenway route. More information about that project can be found here: https://belmonttrolley.org/
Because the alignment of the Belmont Rail Trail intersects with planned NCDOT improvements, the project will be divided into 3 phases:
- Phase 1- Southern Trailhead at Glenway Street, continuing north to Wilkinson Blvd & Main Street intersection
- Phase 2- Wilkinson Blvd & Main Street intersection to I-85 junction
- Phase 3- I-85 junction to Belmont Abbey campus (to be combined with the NCDOT I-85 widening project)
- 2010- Representatives from the Southern Benedictine Society, Sisters of Mercy, NCDOT, and City of Belmont met to discuss building a greenway on the Belmont Spur railroad corridor.
- 2011- The City completed a feasibility study that was funded by a grant by the Carolina Thread Trail. The study was conducted by LandDesign and HDR and was facilitated by a steering committee consisting of representatives from Belmont Abbey, Carolina Thread Trail staff, City staff, local residents, NCDOT, and Sisters of Mercy.
- 2012- The city completed the feasibility study, which included two public input meetings held at Belmont Abbey College and a stakeholder interview session at Sacred Heart. NCDOT awarded the City of Belmont a grant for construction of the rail trail. The City was preparing to begin design and engineering of the trail.
- 2013- NCDOT informed the city about an NC Supreme Court decision that limited NCDOT’s ability to do this project (the case was on an unrelated issue). The City and NCDOT sought special legislation to allow the rail trail project, which was approved and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, thanks to the leadership of NC Senator Kathy Harrington and NC Representative John Torbett. All parties owning an interest in the railroad corridor where the trail was to be built were required to signed a lease agreement with the city, and the City began title opinions on these properties.
- 2014- NCDOT approved the title opinions that the city attorney conducted. The Belmont city council held a required public hearing on the project. NCDOT accepted the public hearing transcripts and began drafting the rail trail lease agreement.
- 2015- City Council approved the rail trail lease agreement and authorized staff to begin working with the other parties to the lease to gain their approval.
- 2017- Belmont contracted with Moffatt and Nichol as well as LandDesign for professional design services to design the trail.
- 2019- Belmont entered into an agreement with NCDOT for the utilization of Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation.
- 2020- The City of Belmont requested NCDOT's consideration of a route revision to assist with challenges in easement acquisition and to help the project remain feasible, placing the project on-hold until an official response is received.