Durham Rail Trail Master Plan (2018)

Belt Line Update

Most recent update on the Belt Line from the March 4, 2021 City Council Work Session. Starts at 47:34.

What is the Belt Line?

The Durham Belt Line is a 1.7 mile-long stretch of inactive railroad right-of-way that runs from the area around Avondale Drive and Trinity Avenue to just northeast of the Durham Amtrak Station at West Chapel Hill Street, forming a crescent around downtown Durham. It ends two blocks from the American Tobacco Campus and Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the northern end of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT). 

The conversion of the inactive railroad corridor into a trail has been envisioned for over 20 years, as recommended by both the adopted Downtown Durham Master Plan and the Durham Trails and Greenway Master Plan.

The City of Durham purchased the Belt Line corridor in September 2018 from The Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating solutions that make both environmental and economic sense across the United States.  The City acquired the property using a combination of federal funds and local match funds. The federal funds for the project were provided through the competitive Transportation Improvement Program managed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

Once completed, the Durham Belt Line will connect Downtown Durham, the Innovation District, the Central Park and DIY Districts, the Trinity Park, Pearl Mill Village, Old North Durham and Duke Park neighborhoods, and the Avondale Drive-Trinity Avenue business district.

What is the Master Plan?

In August 2018, Durham City Council adopted a master plan for a trail in the Belt Line corridor.  The recommendations outlined in the Durham Belt Line Master Plan are meant to guide the next phases of the project, which include detailed design and eventual construction.

The Master Plan identifies a conceptual design and discusses the trail cross-section, access points, opportunities for historic preservation, placemaking, and development along the trail. While many of the recommendations are focused on the design of the trail, policy recommendations are included to guide implementation of the overall vision and ensure that the project benefits all of Durham.  

Upon adoption, City Council also requested the development of a community engagement and racial equity plan for the Durham Belt Line Trail. The Neighborhood Improvement Services Department drafted an Equitable Community Engagement Blueprint to help guide the development of a Belt Line-specific engagement plan. The Blueprint is a working document that will be continuously updated, with the intent to serve as a guide for various City initiatives. Neighborhood Improvement Services used this Blueprint to draft a proposed Durham Belt Line Trail Equitable Engagement Plan.

Link to Master Plan documents:

Who is in Charge of the Project?

The City of Durham General Services Department is managing the design and construction of the Durham Belt Line Trail. Contact information and other info is available on the Durham Belt Line Trail page.