Capital Trail project taking shape in Varina

Construction work on the Virginia Capital Trail is taking place along Route 5 near Buffin Road.

Construction of two sections of the Virginia Capital Trail – which will connect Virginia’s past and present capitals, while also promoting recreation, alternative transportation and economic development – is underway along the Route 5 corridor in Eastern Henrico County.

Citizens can expect to see heavy construction along the corridor until the September 2015 completion date. Sixteen miles of the trail between Richmond and Williamsburg are completed; just half a mile of that total is in Richmond, at its end point along Dock Street.

Nicole Anderson-Ellis, a longtime Varina-area activist for smart growth and member of the Route 5 Corridor Coalition, believes the Virginia Capital Trail is exactly what Henrico, and Varina in particular, need.

“Route 5 and The Capital Trail are practically married, and we are thrilled because this is the kind of economic investment that will bring the most benefits to the community with the least amount of negative,” said Anderson-Ellis, who also serves as an elected representative on the Henricopolis Soil and Water District Conservation Board. “It shows really great momentum and that Richmond is increasingly modeling and getting ahead of the curve. It is a profitable asset to the region, and I think people are just waking up to it.”

The trail is designed as a shared-use path for walkers, runners and cyclists and will give local residents the ability to use non-motorized transportation to access places, increase the public awareness of Virginia’s rich historical roots and provide an opportunity to preserve the wildlife while allowing users simply to enjoy the diverse forestry and farmland from Richmond to Williamsburg.

In Henrico, construction has begun on the New Market Heights Phase and the Varina Phase of the trail, with work on the Park Phase (the only portion of the trail that will not be built along Route 5) yet to begin. The Park Phase will break away from Route 5 just west of Wood Mill Drive (across from Buffin Road) and head north to Dorey Park, then loop east around the Four Mile Run subdivision, travel beneath I-295 and head south to reconnect to Route 5 at Rocky Hill Farm Drive Road near Dairy Queen.

The Varina Phase will be approximately 7.6 miles long and extend east from a half-mile south of the Richmond city limits to Longbridge Road in Varina. It’s scheduled for completion by next summer, according to VDOT officials. The 10.5-mile New Market Heights Phase will run from Longbridge Road just east of I-295 to Kimages Road (Route 658) near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences in Charles City County, parallel to Route 5, and will be completed by fall 2015.

In order to minimize the impact to landowners in Henrico, VDOT officials adopted a path for the trail that crosses over Route 5 twice in the Henrico portions.

“The trail crosses Route 5 just west of Longbridge Road [from the south side to the north side of the road, as riders head west] and again just east of Midview Road [from the north side of the road to the south side, heading west], with both crossings in Henrico County,” said Lindsey LeGrand, communications manager with VDOT’s Richmond District. “The crossings on Route 5 will be at-grade crossings similar to the crossings on Route 5 along the James City County portion of the trail.

According to VDOT officials, a significant length of the project has been redesigned to minimize impact to the tree canopy, with most of the construction taking place away from the road for low traffic impacts. Some clearing and grading already has taken place, and citizens can expect to see more along the planned trail alignment in all phases of the trail.

Varina District Supervisor Tyrone Nelson doesn’t expect the construction to be an issue for residents of his district or others who travel the Route 5 corridor.

“The closer we get to the trail happening, I’m just hearing excitement and people are looking forward to it and completing it so we can use it,” said Nelson. “I don’t see it being a hardship on the community at all, and I don’t see it impacting traffic. The trail is 10 feet off the road, and there are places VDOT has set up for parking. It’s a positive thing for everyone in the community. We really want people to use this and connect neighborhoods.”

As part of the Varina Phase, construction is underway on a 14-foot-wide pedestrian/bike bridge that will cross all of Route 895 with a pier in the median of 895. The trail will cross under I-295 at the existing bridges over White Oak Swamp Creek and run along the existing abutment.

Once complete, the trail will span more than 50 miles, traverse through four jurisdictions and bring to life more than 400 years of history along one of the first inland routes in North America. The Virginia Capital Trail has been in the making for more 20 years; in 1991 VDOT recommended including a bicycle lane on Route 5 and preserving the scenic character of Route 5 to the fullest extent.

“Route 5 is a road that Thomas Jefferson used to commute on horseback between Williamsburg and Richmond and people will be traveling that same route, biking in places along the river, along the city and the forest,” Anderson-Ellis said. “Bicycling opens your eyes to the world around you, and if we’re careful about how we grow and protect the beauty [the environment] has to offer, it will pay dividends for us for generations.”
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Richmond Montessori School earns VAIS reaccreditation

Richmond Montessori School, an independent Montessori school for children ages 2 to 14, recently earned reaccreditation from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. The VAIS accreditation program is one of only a few recognized at the national level through the National Association of Independent School's Commission on Accreditation and is also recognized and approved by the Virginia Board of Education through the Virginia Council for Private Education. > Read more.

Business in brief

Neil Burton, the founder of Strangeways Brewing in Henrico, will serve on the 2017-18 Leadership Council of The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild (VCBG). Burton will share the chairmanship of the Marketing & Tourism Committee with Kevin Erskine of Coelacanth Brewing. Other local brewers in leadership positions include Eric McKay of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (VCBG chair), Hunter Smith of Champion Brewing Company (co-chair of the Government Affairs Committee) and Kate Lee of Hardywood (co-chair of the Quality Committee). > Read more.

James River Juvenile Detention Center to graduate its largest class

James River Juvenile Detention Center will celebrate its largest class of high school graduates June 27, as 13 residents receive their high school diploma or GED certificate.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the detention center, 3650 Beaumont Road in Powhatan County. The graduates will mark their academic milestone by walking across a stage in a cap and gown before an audience of family members. A reception will follow. > Read more.

Henrico School Board selects redistricting Option E

JUNE 23, 10:30 A.M. – The Henrico County School Board Thursday concluded its latest redistricting process by selecting a plan for middle school redistricting that will impact a number of students in the western and northern parts of the county, as well as a few in Eastern Henrico.

The process sought to reduce overcrowding at Hungary Creek Middle School, create room at Wilder Middle School for a gifted academy and address the poverty level disparity among some middle schools. It will impact about 775 students, according to school system officials. > Read more.

‘Senior Cool Care’ program to help older adults in Metro Richmond

For the 27th year, Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging is helping older adults combat summer heat through a program now called "Senior Cool Care" (formerly the Fan Care program) that provides fan and air conditioning units for eligible senior citizens.

The program is available to low-income older adults age 60 and older who reside in the City of Richmond and the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

June 2017

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The Roots, Rhythm, & Soul Tour – featuring Roosevelt Dime, Harry Jay & The Bling, and Jenna Lotti – will perform at 8 p.m. at The Tin Pan, 8982 Quioccasin Rd. Roosevelt Dime combines the feel-good groove of classic Rhythm & Blues with acoustic Americana instrumentation. Harry Jay & The Bling are a contemporary R&B/funk group located in Boston, Mass. Jenna Lotti is a pop soul singer-songwriter from Boston. In 2013, she created a successful Kickstarter campaign which led to the creation of her debut album “Tunnel Vision.” Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. For details, call 447-8189 or visit Full text

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