Virginia Capital Trail nears completion in Eastern Henrico

Only a few stretches of the Virginia Capital Trail in Varina remain unpaved, as construction crews near the completion of the trail, which will connect Richmond to Williamsburg. (Tom Lappas/Henrico Citizen)

The Virginia Capital Trail, which will connect Virginia's past and present capitals across 52 miles (including along Route 5 in Varina) is one step closer to completion. Demolition crews are finishing the removal of silos at the Lehigh Cement site on the James River, just west of Rocketts Landing in the city.

The demolition of the site makes way for a portion of the path and brings VDOT and contractors closer to completing the trail. The goal from the beginning has been to have the trail completed by the UCI World Biking Championships, which will begin Sept. 19.

It's been a long time coming, according to Beth Weisbrod, executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation.

"The first groundbreaking was in July 2005, but it started years before that with a feasibility study along Route 5," Weisbrod said. "When you have a project that is being built with federal funds and it goes through four localities, it becomes very complex. The plan has been in the making for 10 years.

"The project will be complete in time for the UCI bike race, but not long before," she said. "All remaining sections are under construction, so it's hard to quantify what is left."

VDOT has been working on the trail for 10 years and expects substantial completion of the agency's three remaining projects by Sept. 10, according to VDOT spokeswoman Lindsay LeGrand.

"Final completion of two of the projects (New Market Heights and Varina phases) is scheduled for December," said LeGrand. "The final completion of the park will be October 2015. The trail will be open for use in September; however, trail users should continue to use caution as crews wrap up landscaping around the trail through the phases’ respective completion dates."

A view of a completed portion of the Virginia Capital Trail at New Market Road and Willson Road in Varina. (Tom Lappas/Henrico Citizen)

A large-scale project
The project has been one of the largest and most time-intensive projects that VDOT ever has undertaken, LeGrand said.

Aside from major interstate projects "few other projects' limits extend 50-plus miles and through four localities, two separate VDOT construction districts and navigate through 400 years of history," said LeGrand. "This trail stands out among other VDOT projects because it's a means of travel and a destination point. We were careful to preserve the rich natural and cultural resources adjacent to Route 5, which was challenging given the trail’s length and location. The trail represents a valuable source of economic development, increased safety, historic preservation, and unique recreational opportunities."

During the next month, citizens can expect to see paving operations, safety fence construction and sign installation. Construction has progressed smoothly throughout the phases so far, with little impact to vehicular traffic.

In addition to providing a recreational outlet between Williamsburg and Richmond that will attract cyclists, walkers and joggers, the trail also is designed as a way to promote tourism.

The grand opening plans are still being finalized, but a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Oct. 2 at Shiplock Park in Richmond at 5:30 p.m. The following day, the public is encouraged to visit the trail and enjoy various celebrations taking place, including a ribbon-cutting in Eastern Henrico, a “Root 5 Farms Day” in Charles City County, and a movie night at Chickahominy Park.

Despite the tedious nature of construction, Weisbrod said that the trail has been worth the wait.

"Trails all over the country are generating significant economic returns year after year because of the increased bike tourism, development along the trails that cater to that tourism, and increased property value for homes near that trail," she said. "The trail will be the first long distance, multi-use trail in the area
and besides drawing a lot of people, it will also let people know what's possible. I think it will help the grassroots effort to capture the region's evolution towards a bike- and pedestrian-friendly community."

Once complete, the trail will bring together two of the most historic areas in the country, traverse through four localities, shed light on 400 years of history, and provide a safe, accessible, and unique recreational experience to history buffs and bike enthusiasts alike. Weisbrod believes the marriage between the two sites and the union between the trail and Route 5 will only have a positive impact on the community.

"This trail will be transformative for the communities through which is passes," said Weisbrod. "It's a free amenity, attractive to all ages and abilities, and because of that, it will go a long way in creating a more active and healthy region.

"Once people experience the feeling of safety by being physically separated from car traffic, they're going to want more. It's a good thing!"
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27

The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair

Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21

Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’

The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity

Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, 8250 Woodman Rd., will host a Food Truck Festival from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. A variety of food trucks will be in attendance including Boka Tako Truck, Bikini Panini, King of Pops and Reggie’s Grill. Beer and wine will be available. The Scholastic Book Fair will be happening inside the school. For details, visit Full text

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