The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Belmont end of trail starts to take shape
BY KATIE THISDELL
If she has time, Diana Jagoda hopes to use Stafford County’s newest trails.
“I was just thinking today it’d be nice to have a path along there,” Jagoda said about River Road, along the Rappahannock River, which she drives regularly as a cut-through between State Route 3 and U.S. 1.
And in a few years the county’s Belmont to Ferry Farm Trail will also meander along the river.
Only a few pieces of the eventual 4.02-mile trail are complete now, though.
The newest addition is sidewalk improvements along Washington Street near Belmont, and in front of Amy’s Café.
A ribbon cutting will take place at 4:30 p.m. today at Amy’s Café, 103 W. Cambridge St.
Falmouth was once a booming port town. But more recently the narrow sidewalks along Washington Street were crumbling, if they even existed.
It wasn’t safe for pedestrians, county staff had said.
Phase 5 of the trail system project included sidewalk repairs there for $210,000.
The sidewalk doesn’t go all the way to Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont yet, but visitors can still make their way to the café and other stops in Falmouth bottom.
“There’s not a lot of sidewalks in Stafford and we need more,” said Amy Johnson, owner of Amy’s Café. “Hopefully it brings more people here.”
A few new customers have already come to the restaurant because of the path, Johnson said.
“Anything to add to the bottom is a wonderful thing,” she said.
Still to come are more safety improvements to benefit runners, walkers and cyclists, including a path under the Falmouth Bridge. Parking areas are also planned.
Meanwhile, work is also progressing on Phase 3, in the middle of the 4.02-mile trail.
Construction crews are building a curving paved trail down the hill from St. Clair Brooks Memorial Park that will link with the Falmouth bottom path and sidewalks.
Supervisors broke ground in Brooks Park last September on the 0.89-mile section, which cost $875,000.
The eastern side of the trail now connects to the existing path within Pratt Park, which runs alongside the mile-long gravel loop circling athletic fields, passing by the YMCA on Butler Road.
Considered Phases 1 and 2 of the trail system, the path through Pratt Park was planned by the now-defunct Fredericksburg–Stafford Park Authority, which managed some parks in the city and county.
Two more sections are planned to extend the path to George Washington’s Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm.
Previous estimates showed that costs for these final two phases, identified as 4 and 6, could come to $1 million.
Stafford County has tentatively been awarded $597,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s enhancement grant funding, for projects that integrate transportation into communities and improve the quality of life.
However, not all county residents approve of the project.
“It goes from nowhere to nowhere,” said Mike Stankus, a regular customer at Amy’s. “I like walking and I like hiking, but it’s a waste of money.”
Jagoda, another customer at Amy’s, disagreed.
“A lot of people visit Fredericksburg as visitors,” she said, “and instead of walking around downtown, they can walk along the river.”
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975
MORE PARKING AHEAD AT LELAND STATION
In addition to dedicating the Falmouth sidewalks, Stafford County’s Board of Supervisors will have a groundbreaking today for another project.
Expansion of the Virginia Railway Express Leeland Station commuter lot will begin soon.
The groundbreaking will take place at 3:30 p.m. at the lot, located at 275 Leeland Road.