RSS feed of this blog

City Heritage Trail will loop



There soon will be a new scenic venue in Fredericksburg for walkers, runners and bicyclists to stretch their legs on.

As early as May, construction may start on the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, which will connect the two parts of the Rappahannock Canal Path, making a 3.1-mile loop. It’s just about right for a 5K race.

The project has been in the works for years and could finally become a reality at the beginning of the summer.

On Tuesday night, the City Council approved City Manager Beverly Cameron’s recommendation to award the $1.5 million contract to build the trail to Fredericksburg-based W.C. Spratt, pending Virginia Department of Transportation approval.

Six companies bid on the project, Fawcett said.

The trail will begin near the intersection of Princess Anne and Ford streets at one end of the Rappahannock Canal. It will run north along Caroline Street, then west along Riverside Drive and Fall Hill Avenue to the Fall Hill Avenue crossing of the canal.

It will be a 10-foot-wide asphalt surface that will be usable by walkers, runners and bicyclists.

Most of the project will begin in May and be finished by year’s end.

The section between the Fall Hill Avenue/Linden Avenue intersection and the western end of the trail won’t be constructed right away. That part overlaps with the construction zone for the replacement of the Fall Hill Avenue bridge over the Rappahannock Canal and will be done as part of that project in late 2012.

Plans for the new bridge allow the canal path to pass under Fall Hill Avenue and link to the Heritage Trail on the other side.

Until that can be done, a temporary portion of the trail will connect the canal path and the trail. It will go from the Fall Hill Avenue/Linden Avenue intersection through the Normandy Village neighborhood and pick back up at the canal path.

Councilman George Solley has been a supporter of the project since 2004 when he was on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

But the idea for the trail is older than that; it first appeared in a 1997 city trails plan.

When he became a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Solley got permission to start a Pathways Committee to explore the option of bringing more trails to Fredericksburg.

He, along with other interested residents and city staffers, got working on mapping out a trail system for the city.

After more than a year of research, which included trekking all over the city to figure out the actual locations of the trails, the committee came up with a plan that was adopted by the city in early 2006. Then the city applied for funding through federal government grant programs.

In May 2010, the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization awarded the project $900,000. About $275,000 was transferred from the Virginia Central Rail Trail project to the Heritage Trail project, and about $100,000 was appropriated in the city’s fiscal 2012 budget.

Throughout the process, Solley said, there were several public meetings, and residents had a big role in developing the plan.

“I think the more walkable and ridable a place is, the better quality of life, and quality of life not only benefits existing residents but is a main attraction for people and businesses looking to relocate,” Solley said.

Terry Dorn, president of the Fredericksburg Area Bicycling Club, also is excited about the trail.

The club has about 150 riders, and organizes a few rides each week—though those are usually for much longer distances than the 3.1-mile trail.

He said the club regularly gets calls and emails from adults looking for a safe place to get back into riding.

“This will be great to have a loop where they can go and not worry about crossing streets, and it will be great for adults and kids to learn how to ride a bike again,” he said.

It will tie in nicely with events that the club holds.

“We often do, in the summertime, a ride downtown. If any tourists want to take a quick little ride, this is another piece of trail we would use to show people around town,” he said.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413