Historically, North Carolina has been known as the “Good Roads State,” due to the high quality and connectivity of its state roads system.  There is a movement stirring to add a new moniker to North Carolina’s accolades by positioning itself as the “Great Trails State.”  This project quantifies elements of economic contribution that shared use paths, often called trails or “greenways” in North Carolina, provide through outdoor recreation and transportation options.  It looks at how these activities may impact local and state economies through tourism, events, urban redevelopment, community improvement, property values, health care savings, jobs, investment, and consumer spending.

Project Objectives

The objective of this project is to develop and test a methodology to evaluate contributions of a shared use path that can be consistently applied.  This project began in March 2015 and will be completed in February 2018.

The following criteria were used to select four SUPs to test the methodology:

  • Have state or regional significance
  • Have good opportunities to capture economic revenue
  • Minimal construction, maintenance, or detouring
  • Relatively “established”
  • Have ability to demonstrate transportation function
  • Are geographically dispersed
  • Have good mix between urban and rural

Two of the trails are being studied for impacts across three years and two of the trails will be studied for the impacts during a single year.  The multi-year case studies can help to determine consistency in results (e.g. trail expenditures, minutes of physical activity, mode used to travel to trail, etc.) and test reliability of methods.

Project Resources

Information about the project and results will be posted as interim and final documents become available.  For future reports, estimated timing of document availability is indicated.

American Tobacco Trail

Brevard Greenway

Duck Trail

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

  • Project Map / Study Area [Est. 2017]
  • Tech Brief [Est 2018]

Additional Project Resources





Sarah O’Brien
Program Manager
919.515.8703 | skworth@ncsu.edu


Sarah Searcy
Research Assistant
919.513.3482 | sesearcy@ncsu.edu