Downtown Greenway's final cornerstone to be dedicated

The Freedom Cornerstone is the fourth of four along the 4-mile loop.

Downtown Greenway's final cornerstone to be dedicated
A rendering of the Freedom Cornerstone and "Ascension," at the corner of Murrow and Gate City boulevards on the southeast corner of the Downtown Greenway.

One more piece of Greensboro's Downtown Greenway is in place, and work should begin by mid-year on a final segment that ultimately will close the loop.

The Freedom Cornerstone and its artwork, "Ascension" by artist Radcliffe Bailey, will be dedicated at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The cornerstone is at Murrow and East Gate City boulevards in the southeast section of the Greenway and will be the fourth of four to officially open.

The Freedom Cornerstone honors Greensboro's role in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Sit-In Movement. "Ascension" deals with the subject of freedom and its meaning to the artist, a news release from the City of Greensboro states. The form of the sculpture references travel taken by Bailey and his family by train from the south to places throughout the East Coast. Click to read the full news release.

“With three miles of the four-mile loop complete, the addition of this major work of significant public art, and the plans ready for the final mile, the end of the project is in our sights," Action Greensboro project manager Dabney Sanders said in the news release. "The community engagement and enthusiasm for this work has been so rewarding, and we can’t wait to see it through.”

The dedication is open to the public and will be followed by a reception at the Historic Magnolia House. Parking will be available at 750 Plott St. and 521 Gorrell St.

Bids are expected to go out in March for work on the Western Branch, dubbed "the final mile" in fundraising. The segment extends from the northwest corner of the greenway at Smith Street, near Meeting Place at the Tradition Cornerstone, southward to Spring Garden Street near the Mural at Morehead Park.

The Downtown Greenway's Western Branch is passable, although footing along the rocky former railbed is uneven. Temporary bridges are in place to ease the way for those seeking a bit of adventure, as I did in choosing to veer off course during the Downtown Greenway Run & Block Party in October.

Sanders confirmed by email that construction could begin in June. Completion would be targeted for late 2024 or early 2025, she wrote.

Other work scheduled for 2023 includes a College Branch stream restoration project and replacement of the bridge deck crossing over North Church Street.

When complete, the 12-foot-wide loop of asphalt and concrete will total just more than four miles and will be North Carolina's only greenway to circle a downtown city. Greensboro is home to more than 100 miles of greenways and trails.

Public and private support for the greenway, which was introduced in 2001 and for which ground was broken in 2009, has surpassed $50 million. Action Greensboro attributes $500 million in economic development to the greenway.

Greensboro Parks and Recreation is responsible for the Downtown Greenway's maintenance, programming, communications and volunteers, Sanders wrote. Action Greensboro works with the city on those facets and is responsible for the public art, fundraising and project management.

Click to download an update featuring highlights for the Downtown Greenway in 2022.

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