Virginia Capital Trail plans discussed
County, state officials disagree about where path should lie
The future of the Henrico portion of the Virginia Capital Trail got a little clearer earlier this month, but perhaps a little more confusing at the same time.
At a public meeting in Varina, VDOT officials displayed plans for the 10.5-mile stretch of the Williamsburg-to-Richmond trail that will travel along Route 5 in eastern Henrico.
Those plans call for the trail to be separated from the road and located mostly along the northern side of Route 5 – both changes from what the county’s Board of Supervisors adopted as its preferred plan more than a decade ago.
The new design plans resulted from VDOT’s desire to save money – building the trail attached to Route 5 would cost almost twice as much, VDOT project manager Ian Millikan said – and impact as few property owners as possible. The Henrico portion of the trail is expected be completed by early 2014.
But Varina District Supervisor Jim Donati was miffed by the proposal, which he said doesn’t represent what the county and most Varina residents support.
Building the trail as an attachment to Route 5, he said, would provide necessary space for bikers and walkers while also giving room for postal delivery vehicles to to make their stops without impeding the flow of traffic.
Citizen opinion about the plan at the Feb. 3 meeting at John Rolfe Middle School was mixed. Several bicycling groups have consistently endorsed a separate trail, contending that it would be safer and would lend itself to more use. (Other portions of the trail that have been constructed or are planned are also separate from the road.)
But other attendees were concerned that the separate trail – located between 10 and 30 feet off the road at various points – could negatively impact their land.
Construction of the Henrico portion of the trail is expected to cost $9.5 million. Funding already exists from a combination of federal sources that are specifically designated for non-roadway projects.
Adding more potential confusion to the mix is a study of the Route 5 corridor between Laburnum Avenue and 7th Street in the city, which was initiated by the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission last summer, in partnership with Henrico County, Richmond, VDOT, the GRTC and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. That study seeks to identify ways in which various forms of transportation can be best utilized to serve the corridor in years to come.
Donati worries that that study – expected to be completed by early next year – could confuse residents and possibly counteract VDOT’s plans for the trail. For example, he asked, what would happen if the study proposed widening Route 5 to four lanes after plans for the trail already had been approved?
During the renovation of Varina Elementary School, the county built what it expected to become a portion of the trail in front of the school, on the south side of Route 5 – where it expected the trail to run. But the new plans would place the trail on the north side of the road there.
VDOT already owns right-of-way property along Route 5 within which it can build some of the trail. Officials decided that running the trail along a mostly northern route would reduce the number of properties that would have to be disrupted and also limit the amount of land that might need to be purchased to provide room for the trail, Millikan said.
Upon completion, the trail will span 54 miles.
The Varina Ruritan Club celebrated its 80th anniversary with a banquet Nov. 10, during which it presented several annual awards, including Policeman of the Year – to Henrico Officer Aaron M. Lancaster (top) – and Firefighter of the Year – to Julian T. Lipscomb (second from top).
The club also received a plaque from the Henrico Division of Fire (third from top) expressing the division's appreciation for the club and its support of fire prevention programs. > Read more.
The grand opening of The Rink outdoor ice skating rink at West Broad Village will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, beginning at 11 a.m. with skating and family activities. At 4 p.m., grand opening festivities – featuring exhibitions of ice sculpting, ice skating and cheering, as well as fire pits, costumed characters, and food vendors – will begin. Skating costs are $8 for children and $10 for adults, with $4 skate rentals available. Parking is free. The Rink is located at 3939 Duckling Drive, Glen Allen. For details, visit http://www.Facebook.com/TheRinkWBV > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
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Nov. 19, 2015Click here to read the print edition.
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