Just over a week ago I was made aware that North Carolina’s DOT has been working with Dominion Energy to allow the construction of a 12″ diameter gas line using a portion of the ATT corridor from Morrisville Parkway to Scott King Road. This would be from ~mile post 16.2 to mile post 10, or about 6 miles. Dominion Energy has now received an easement on NC Rail Division right-of-way along the American Tobacco Trail. This was granted at a May 7th meeting of the North Carolina Board of Transportation. Dominion has not submitted any final plans and still needs to acquire all necessary permits, including one from the Army Corps of Engineers, which will include a public engagement process. Dominion has prepared a descriptive PDF of the project (as of March 2019). See the ATT Group Facebook page for a link to this file.
A construction start date and schedule has not been determined. Dominion has indicated they would like to break ground by September 2020. Permits from the City of Durham, the Town of Cary, the US Army Corps of Engineers and NC DEQ must be obtained first. These permits should specify conditions to minimize the environmental impact and how temporary closures or re-routes should be done. Slides in the project PDF indicate they plan to use property at the outside edge of the corridor and try to retain some portion of the existing trees closest to the trail.

As of May 24th, it is not too late to express your concerns on this. To be clear, the right of way has not been sold, the NC Board of Transportation only authorized DOT to provide a right of way easement. This was a necessary step in the process but Dominion must obtain numerous permits before the deal is done. DOT let it be known on May 22 they are reviewing what has been done to date by “executive leadership”. Dominion has indicated they are now planning to gather input from trail stakeholders in the next 6 to 8 weeks. The info our group and others have put out seems to be activating large #s of trail users and officials in Durham, Cary and Wake County to push back on why this route was selected as the best alternative and to demand that public input be set up for trail stakeholders. At this point the best source of digital info on this issue is the ATT Group Facebook page. Anyone can request membership. If you scan through the numerous posts you will see links to the emails at NCDOT. In addition your comments to City or town council representatives will be helpful as they begin their inquiries. Perhaps the best overall summary of the situation is the article by Lisa Sorg in NC Policy Watch. Stay tuned, there may be a time when petitions and other input may be useful. Feel free to pass this info along to other trail users you may know.