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Rappahannock River Heritage Trail opens


  Fredericksburg’s newest trail, the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail, opens Saturday with a 10 a.m. ceremony and ribbon-cutting near the Friends of the Rappahannock office, 3219 Fall Hill Ave.

The 1.6-mile asphalt stretch connects the two parts of the Rappahannock Canal Path, making a 3.1-mile loop, just about right for a 5K race.

The new portion of trail, which is 10 feet wide, begins near the intersection of Princess Anne and Ford streets at one end of the Rappahannock Canal, near where Princess Anne becomes two-way. It runs north along Caroline Street, past Old Mill Park and under the Falmouth Bridge, and then west along Riverside Drive and Fall Hill Avenue to the Fall Hill Avenue crossing of the canal.

The section of the trail between the Fall Hill Avenue/Linden Avenue intersection and the western end of the trail are part of another project. That part overlaps with the construction zone for the replacement of the Fall Hill Avenue bridge over the Rappahannock Canal.

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 the bridge project is completed toward the end of 2013, a temporary path from the Fall Hill Avenue/Linden Avenue intersection through the Normandy Village neighborhood will link the new Heritage Trail with the existing canal path.

 Eventually, kiosks will stand at the pedestrian canal bridge as well as at the trail head at the canal and Princess Anne Street, said Erik Nelson, a senior planner for the city.

The newest piece of the trail cost $1.9 million to design and build. Federal transportation grants provided $1.4 million of that, with the rest coming from the city.

 The city is working to expand its network of trails. There are already 5.1 miles completed and another 5.8 miles in the works. In addition, another 4 miles are planned. When all the work is completed, there will be 14.9 miles of trails within the network.

 This doesn’t include the sidewalk system within the city that helps to connect the trails.

 “In Fredericksburg, we consider sidewalks and trails to be critical to infrastructure, rather than amenities,” Nelson said.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413