Hikers and bikers who’ve used the North Bank Trail in the past week or so may have noticed some changes to the trail. Coming from underneath the Lee Bridge, the trail has been widened considerably and had gravel added to the tread in the area between where Hollywood Cemetery starts and the wooden bridge that goes over a small drainage.
I contacted Nathan Burrell, city trails manager, earlier this week, and he said it wasn’t his crew doing the widening. Stacy Rogers, who patrols parts of the James River Park and Belle Isle by bicycle for the RPD, said he wasn’t sure what was going on either. When I rode the trail on Tuesday, I took the attached picture. It looks like there’s some utility work going on (not pictured, behind the backhoe) and the trail was widened to allow heavy machinery in. Burrell said they might use the widening, and loss of singletrack, as an excuse to build some new singletrack parallel, but above, the current trail.
But that’s not the only news coming from that part of the park. This morning (Friday) at 10 a.m., Rogers told me, he and other RPD members will be cleaning out the homeless camps that exist on both sides of the trail there. There have been homeless camps in that area for years, but recently, Rogers said, there were reports of mountain bikers being pushed off their bikes by at least one homeless person. Rogers doesn’t want an escalation in the level of confrontation there, so he’s pushed to have the camps removed. JRPS employees will come in behind the police effort and clean up the large quantity of trash in the area.