Henrico County VA
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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.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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