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

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.

Equestrian clinic planned July 7-8 in Henrico

Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.

Henrico school bus driver honored

The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.

Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Grab the kids and check out these fun family-friendly events taking place this weekend! Speed over to the Henrico Theatre for the film “Turbo” or watch “Dumbo” under the stars at Clarke-Palmore House Museum. Little ones can meet Thomas the Tank Engine at CMOR-Central or play at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

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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