Virginia Capital Trail plans discussed



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.
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Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
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Norfolk man arrested at RIC after TSA catches him with gun

A Norfolk man was arrested at Richmond International Airport May 18 after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it passed through the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

Henrico Police have released a photo of the clock that resembled a bomb that led to the arrest of a Richmond woman in Shot Pump earlier this week.

The device, which the woman told police she purchased at a yard sale, was visible in her car at the Whole Foods at West Broad Village May 19, and a passerby called police, fearing it was a real bomb. Police responded as they would have had the device been real, they said, because they weren't sure if it was real or not.
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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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Henrico-based Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care will host a lecture by Marjorie Thompson at 5:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Ave. Noted author of “Soul Feast,” Thompson will speak on “Grounded in Compassion: Fostering Spiritual Practice in an Age of Terror and Twitter.” A Q&A with Thompson and a reception will follow. This 50th Anniversary event is free and open to the public. For details, call 282-8332 or visit http://www.vipcare.org or Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care on Facebook. Full text

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