Two people walking on the greenway


Capital Area Greenway Master Plan Update

Mapping the future of the Capital Area Greenway System

The City of Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department is excited to be updating the Greenway Master Plan. This project, completed in coordination with the PRCR System Plan Update, is the first update to the greenway plan since 1989. Given the extraordinary changes the City has experienced in the last 30 years, this project will cover a variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Updating the existing greenway plan to be consistent with the City’s Strategic Plan and other Council adopted plans
  • Review and evaluate current City policies and make recommendations for updates to respond to evolving needs of the program and the Capital Area Greenway (CAG) users
  • Review of and make a recommendation for improvements to the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) based on best practices
  • Review of and make recommendations to improve the CAG’s existing trail classifications, greenway corridors, and widths
  • Provide an existing conditions evaluation on accessibility (ADA) and maintenance needs and provide recommendations for improvements/implementation strategies
  • Review of and make trail alignment recommendations to connect existing system gaps
  • Develop a greenway trail design for greenway trails that don’t run along stream corridors
  • Determine the prioritization of projects based on community-confirmed principles and criteria
  • Provide preliminary cost estimates for highest priority projects

Project Details

Project Lead:
Kris Nikfar, AICP 
Toole Design Group and McAdams Company



Kris Nikfar, AICP 

Lead Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Participating Department:
Parks, Recreation and Cultural ResourcesPlanning and ZoningTransportationPolicePermits and InspectionsWater
Service Unit:




The Greenway Master Plan Update kicked off in January 2020 and is anticipated to be a 12-month long effort, wrapping up in early 2021.

Date Activity
Existing System Review and Needs Assessment January-April 2020
Public Participation and Input February-December 2020
Project Recommendations and Prioritization  April-July 2020
Implementation Action Plan  July-October 2020
Draft Report October 2020
Final Report December 2020



This project includes a robust public involvement process consisting of a variety of opportunities for citizens to provide input into the plan. Members of the plan update team will be staffing booths at local events, holding public open house meetings as well as creating an interactive, online survey. A listing of events and opportunities to participate will be provided below as they are scheduled throughout the project’s year-long process. 

Project Open Houses

Our community is our greatest asset and with the health and well-being of our residents in mind, we have decided to cancel or postpone all large-scale City-related events, including the project open houses for the Greenway Master Plan. It is important to note that the Capital Area Greenway System Master Plan is continuing to move forward and open houses will be rescheduled when possible. See more Parks-related COVID-19 information here.

Steering Committee and Design Review Team

The Greenway Master Plan Update will be guided by a 23-member Steering Committee consisting of individuals representing a variety of organizations, groups, and interests that bring different and valuable perspectives to the project.

Organizations and groups with representation on the Steering Committee are as follows:

Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council (CACs), Raleigh Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC), Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenways Advisory Board (PRGAB), Raleigh Greenway and Urban Trails Committee (GWUT), Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), Wake County Public Schools, North Carolina Department of Transportation Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Section, Oaks and Spokes, National Pan-Hellenic Council Greater Raleigh Area, Black Men Run. Black Girls Run, Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities, Environmental Advisory Board, Human Relations Commission, Wake County Government - Community Services/Planning, Development & Inspections, WakeMed, and Urban Land Institute – Triangle. 

Design Review Team

The Greenway Master Plan Steering Committee is supported by an 18-member Design Review Team, consisting of City staff representing from multiple City departments. Each member of the Design Review Team supports the Steering Committee by providing professional expertise in their respective subject areas. City departments with representation on the Design Review Team are as follows: 

City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, City Planning, Transportation, Police, Real Estate, Public Utilities, Development Services, and Stormwater.

Steering Committee Meetings

The Greenway Master Plan Steering Committee and Design Review Team will be a total of six times throughout the project timeline. While these meetings are open to the public, their purpose is to allow the Steering Committee and Design Review Team to review and discuss project findings, plans and recommendations among each other, ultimately guiding the project as it moves along. These meetings will occur on the following dates: 

  • Meeting 1 - January 15, 2020 Agenda | Presentation | Minutes
  • Meeting 2 - March 25, 2020 Agenda
  • Next Meeting - September 30, 2020, 2-4 p.m. - Agenda This meeting will be held virtually and the recording will be available here once complete.




The Capital Area Greenway System (CAG) began as a 1970s planning effort to effectively manage floodways. Preserving land adjacent to all major waterways and tributaries protects aquatic and edge habitats, prevents the development of ecologically sensitive lands, and prevents potential flood damage. These primary waterways and tributaries define the corridors of the system. In addition to flood management and environmental benefits, some greenway corridors are appropriate for trail development, providing recreational opportunities for both residents and visitors. The formative vision of flood protection also influences how the city defines elements within the system. Greenways are mainly located along the watercourses within the City and protect the floodways along these corridors. 

The first Capital Area Greenway Master Plan was created in 1976, with updates occurring in 1986 and in 1989. The original 1976 Plan, and subsequent updates, have been the guiding documents for staff, residents, land developers, and community groups. These updates emphasized the use of the greenway system for recreation and encouraged their inclusion in parks and recreation offerings in the city. The 1989 Update created a system hierarchy that identified corridors, connectors, nodes, and loops. However, corridors running along waterways remain the primary backbone of the system.

In 2015, City Council adopted the Capital Area Greenway Planning and Design Guide. The guide is intended to assist the City and Proposers in the planning, design, and engineering of greenway trail facilities and supplements the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources System Plan.  

Also, in 2015 the Raleigh City Council adopted the City’s first-ever Strategic plan. The Strategic Plan guides the work of the City as it grows and responds to the evolving needs of residents. The five-year Strategic Plan points the way toward maintaining and improving the qualities that make Raleigh an outstanding city. The Plan articulates areas of strategic focus that target the City’s efforts and resources in ways intended to have the greatest impact in the six key focus areas over the life of the plan. The Plan’s is appropriately aligned with other important efforts such as the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. Many aspects of the City’s CAG and Park system are guided by the Strategic Plan’s objectives and initiatives and the update to the CAG Plan should align.  

Adopted in 2014, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources System Plan is a supplement to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan for the City of Raleigh. Multiple elements of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan relate to the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department’s mission for services and facilities and includes a significant update for the delivery of parks, recreation, and cultural resource services. 

The System Plan seeks to expand on those elements. The System Plan is a comprehensive long-range planning document that is meant to help shape the direction, development, and delivery of the city’s parks, recreation and cultural resource services over the next 20 years. The planning process utilized extensive public engagement in the form of a City Council-appointed citizen Planning Committee, public engagement websites, social media, focus groups, a statistically valid survey and an online survey, community visioning workshops, community meetings, and open houses, and outreach to boards and commissions including the Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs) to fully involve the community in each stage of the planning process.

In 2019, the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department began the preparation of a 5-year update to the 2014 System Plan. The System Plan Update will serve to communicate what progress has been made since the System Plan was originally adopted and will reflect any changes to community goals and priorities for Raleigh’s park system. 

Related Projects

  All projects