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Green Crescent Trail: From class project to concrete reality

Clemson mayor Robert Halfacre helps cut the ribbon at the opening of the Green Crescent Trail.

In the late 1970s, when Provost Bob Jones was a student at Clemson, he rode his bike every day from his apartment in Central, yearning for a bike trail. Over 50 years later, the Clemson community now has one.

On Nov. 24, at Gateway Park, Clemson mayor Robert Halfacre helped cut a green ribbon, marking the official opening of the Green Crescent Trail in Clemson. The first segment of the trail, running from Clemson University to Clemson Elementary, is the culmination of a decade-long effort to bring a bike trail to Clemson.

The idea began in 2010 when a Clemson architecture class titled “Community 1:1,” led by professor Dan Harding, came up with the project name and concept of the trail.

“The Green Crescent was a spin-off of the old Southern Crescent rail line as a way of connecting different modes of transportation and thinking a little bit beyond the automobile,” Harding said, referencing the rail line that connected New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and Charlotte, North Carolina, which still comes through Clemson and Central.

The class in 2010 worked on the concept for several years as an academic exercise, mapping out the community’s assets and focusing on the three downtown cities, Clemson, Central and Pendleton, according to Harding.

Harding was then approached by the director of the Advanced Materials Center to develop a trail from the North Experimental Forest to the Clemson Research Park. The class eventually produced a video detailing its concept in the spring of 2014.

This video caught the attention of Chad Carson, a former Clemson linebacker and real estate investor, who reached out to Harding about starting a non-profit to build the bike trail in 2015, creating the Friends of the Green Crescent.

Map of Phase 1 of the Green Crescent Trail. (City of Clemson // Provided)

“We kind of picked it up from them,” Carson said in an interview with The Tiger. “They actually helped us start the first initial community meetings.”

This partnership eventually led to the first structure of the Green Crescent Trail, a pedestrian bridge providing a safe crossing of US 123 along Berkley Drive, which was completed in the fall of 2017.

A feasibility study was also completed in 2016, identifying many of the trail projects that are currently in the works.

“We had to pick a place that was usable or have easements,” Carson said.
The route of the current trail only uses two easements, which came from Clemson United Methodist Church and the South Carolina Department of Transportation, connecting two parks, mostly using city streets, as opposed to easements.

The trail also connects to the University through the new paths built as a part of the Perimeter Road upgrades, providing access to Gateway Park and Clemson Park.

This 2.6-mile trail segment is the beginning stage of a trail that will eventually have various segments attached, according to the Friends of the Green Crescent.

The town of Central has been working with the SCDOT on its section of the Green Crescent Trail expansion, connecting downtown Central to Southern Wesleyan University. However, delays at SCDOT due to a surge of money for other paving projects in the area have pushed this project into 2024 or early 2025, according to Tom Cloer, the assistant town administrator of Central.

The city of Clemson is also working on protected bike lanes along SC 93, but that’s three to five years away, according to Carson.

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Corey Glenn
Corey Glenn, Asst. News Editor
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