The other day, returning from Osborne Landing with the Terrain360.com mapping vessel, my eyes beheld something they’ve been longing to see for years: actual progress on the Virginia Capital Trail in the Richmond region.
Sure, there’s a half-mile section completed from the floodwall across from Bottoms Up Pizza to Great Shiplock Park. But, outside of that, almost all of the work on the 55-mile, Jamestown-to-Richmond paved path has been toward the eastern end.
What I saw the other day got me all giddy, and I realized I hadn’t posted a Cap Trail update in months. So, just yesterday I gave Virginia Capital Trail Foundation Executive Director Beth Weisbrod a call to check in on things. She was just as excited by the trail progress as I was.
“We’re chugging along,” she said. “We’re still on track to have everything done by next summer, by (the UCI World Cycling Championships in) 2015.”
Weisbrod said that Virginia first lady Dorothy McAuliffe will be the keynote speaker on October 15 for the ribbon cutting of the 13-mile Sherwood Forest phase of the trail.
“(Sherwood Forest) essentially connects the completed section in James City County with the Charles City Courthouse section,” Weisbrod said. “So we’ll have roughly 29 miles of one long continuous strip of asphalt.”
Weisbrod and the VDOT project manager will ride the Sherwood Forest section tomorrow to inspect it, she said. And while some landscaping and other light work remains, it is open and rideable right now.
With Sherwood Forest complete, that makes the intersection of Kimages Road and Route 5 the current western terminus of the trail. But work has begun on all the remaining sections. Next up, coming east, is the 10-mile New Market Heights phase, which Weisbrod expects to be completed last, then the 11-mile Varina phase, which reaches the Richmond border at Rocketts Landing.
Weisbrod said that CSX still has to pull up and remove the old traintracks that run from Rocketts Landing almost all the way to Great Shiplock Park. That could happen any day, and when it does, work will begin in earnest in Richmond.
“The downtown portion should be done by spring,” Weisbrod said. “I’m pretty optimistic that that is going to happen.”