Workers rolling again on city rail-trail project
Old Man Winter put a damper on Fredericksburg’s Virginia Central Railway Trail project.
The plan was to have the first two phases of the trail open by now, but construction crews couldn’t get much done with the snow and rain that soaked the area at the end of winter.
“The winter weather had a significant impact on progress,” Doug Fawcett, the city’s director of public works, said Monday.
Work is picking up now, though.
He said crews are expected to start paving the trail between Alum Spring Park and U.S. 1 this week.
It looks like that section of the trail, which will stretch from downtown to U.S. 1, will open sometime in the next two months.
Also, work is beginning on the third section of the trail on the west side of U.S. 1, which previously lacked funding. Fawcett said some preliminary clearing work has started on that segment.
The 2.7-mile trail’s first section starts at Essex Street downtown near the Apartments at Cobblestone Square off of Lafayette Boulevard. The trail then runs beneath the Hazel Run Bridge on Lafayette Boulevard and extends to the intersection at the Blue and Gray Parkway.
That’s where the second section starts. The trail runs from the intersection through Alum Springs and to U.S. 1.
From there, the third section of the trail will cross the highway. New pedestrian and traffic signals will be installed for the crossing.
The trail will then run along an old railroad bed between the Kendalwood Apartment complex and the Idlewild neighborhood. That section will include a bridge over a ravine and a “boardwalk” over a sewer line, Fawcett said. The trail will end near Idlewild.
A final city portion of the trail, which would extend to I–95, is on hold because there is no funding for it.
Fawcett said there are no plans in place to fund or design that section yet.
Grants from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration paid for most of the $3.1 million trail. The city has contributed a portion of funding.
There is concern about the trail’s crossing at Lafayette Boulevard and the Blue and Gray Parkway.
“The parkway has been a real challenge,” Fawcett said.
A pedestrian signal will be installed and a stop light will be added to the right-turn lane from Lafayette Boulevard onto the parkway. Currently, there is a yield sign for the turn lane.
But the intersection is big and busy, especially during rush hour.
Councilman Matt Kelly said “getting people across the Blue and Gray without messing up traffic” is something they’re trying to figure out.
City officials considered building a pedestrian bridge, but that option eventually was deemed to be too complicated.
The bridge would have to be at least 18 feet high to allow vehicle clearance, and it would require a long ramp to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Fawcett said crews will monitor the crossing to see how it is working once the trail opens. He added that it will be important for people using the trail to push the pedestrian crossing button to activate the signal.
The long-range plan for the trail has it running through Spotsylvania and into Orange County.
A portion of the trail is accessible at Salem Church Road in Spotsylvania.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436