Partial trail closure for sewer line replacement starts in June

Looking down the middle of Morgan Creek in springtime, with lush deciduous trees arching over the wide creek.

On June 3, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) will begin clearing trees along a stretch of Morgan Creek managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden to make way for a new sewer pipe. This construction, Phase 1 of the Morgan Creek Interceptor project, means a portion of the Elephant Rock Trail on our Piedmont Nature Trails will be closed for several months.

Why is this happening?
OWASA needs to upgrade the aging 24-inch sewer pipeline along this easement with a 36-inch pipe to accommodate business and population growth in our area.

Map showing a segment of the middle of the Elephant Rock Trail expected to be closed for several months
Approximate location of the trail closure, which runs for about 1,000 feet in the middle of the Elephant Rock Trail. Click to enlarge.

Which trails will be affected?
This construction will close about 1,000 feet of the Elephant Rock Trail, starting about 1/3-mile past Elephant Rock on Morgan Creek. You’ll still be able to walk to Elephant Rock from the Garden, and you’ll be able to follow the trail for a bit past Elephant Rock before having to turn around.

How long will this take?
We expect this construction to continue into the fall; we’ll post specifics when we know them.

What is the environmental impact of this construction?
OWASA will be removing vegetation up to 30 feet from the centerline of the project so construction equipment can access the site. When the project is complete, we will work with OWASA to select plant species for restoration. Through an Easement Restoration Plan approved by the Town of Chapel Hill, OWASA has committed to:

  • Planting and fertilizing native trees and shrubs in temporarily disturbed areas at a density of 260 trees per acre at maturity
  • Monitoring reports of vegetation success in restored areas quarterly for the first year
  • Seeding throughout permanently disturbed area (within 30 feet of project centerline).

How can I learn more?
See the official map and learn more about this project on the OWASA website.