City + Citizen News

City receives grant from Appalachian Regional Commission to extend MBF Rail Trail to the Northside

Tuesday, June 19

$500,000 grant will help fund trail extension linking Downtown Spartanburg with the city's Northside


The City of Spartanburg has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for construction a new extension for the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail which will connect the popular multi-use trail to the recently completed Butterfly Branch Greenway at College Street on the city’s Northside.


Building upon a planned extension that will take the trail from its current northern terminus at the intersection of Union and E Henry streets to Barnet Park, this next expansion phase will add around one mile to the trail, bringing an additional estimated 22,000 annual uses to the trial’s existing 94,000 uses. The route will take the Rail Trail from the planned terminus at Barnet Park to the Northside, providing a crucial pedestrian and cycling connection between Downtown Spartanburg and our city’s most intensive neighborhood redevelopment area.


From Barnet Park, the trail connection route will head north on N Converse, Silver Hill, and N Liberty streets before turning west on E Daniel Morgan Avenue, then north on Magnolia and Howard streets before connecting with the Butterfly Branch Greenway at College Street next to the VCOM-Carolinas campus.


The grant award comes at a time when both Downtown Spartanburg and the Northside are experiencing historic levels of investment and redevelopment. The new extension will front a planned 200-unit market-rate apartment development and a five-story mixed-use office building along its downtown section, and it will connect that investment with over $40 million in planned development on the Northside, including a multi-building, mixed-used complex, a 90-unit mixed-income apartment development, and the City’s planned T.K. Gregg Community Center, all of which will anchor the trail’s planned northern terminus.


“Investment made by the City and its partners in the area had a big influence on our success in being awarded this grant,” offers City Operations Analyst, Joyce Lipscomb.


The Northside connection is part of the existing plan for trails in Spartanburg County and builds on the success of the existing Rail Trail, which serves as the spine of our city’s expanding urban trails network. The extension helps meet a primary goal of the trails plan, physically connecting Spartanburg’s neighborhoods, major destinations, schools, and waterways for residents and visitors who want to safely walk and bicycle. Plans for extensions in the coming years include the MBF Rail Trail’s southern end as well, providing a link between the city and the popular Glendale Shoals Preserve. Another major step forward will be to provide trail links to the westside of Spartanburg’s urban area.


Total cost for the Northside connection is estimated at $1.2 million. In addition to the $500,000 grant from Appalachian Regional Commission, the City will also allocate $250,000 in trails funding for the project. Partners for Active Living, with support from the trails advisory committee, has committed to raising the $472,000 estimated remainder of the project cost beyond what the ARC grant and City funding covers.


“Partners for Active Living, in collaboration with the City of Spartanburg and Spartanburg County Parks and many other partners, is driving new urban trail connections because we want to replicate and expand the impact of the MBF Rail Trail. These trail connections not only improve health but also community cohesion and quality of place, which impacts economic vitality,” notes Partners for Active Living Executive Director, Laura Ringo.


For anyone who would like to contribute to the planned Northside trail connection, please send donations to Spartanburg County Foundation; 424 East Kennedy Street/ 29302; account 2058-urban trails


Map of Northside Connection Route

Northside Connector Trail Map