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Trail gets study, but lacks money

October 6, 2012 12:10 am

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BY JEFF BRANSCOME

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

Not everyone is sure the proposed Deep Run Spur Trail in Spotsylvania County will happen despite all of the planning for the project.

It's unclear how the proposed pedestrian and bicycle path from the Rappahannock River to Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg battlefield park would be funded and whether private property owners would let it run through their land.

"I think the trail idea is nice," said Greg Raines, who lives off Benchmark Road and attended a community meeting on the path this week. "The question to me is, Can you put it in without issues with the homeowners?"

George Graves, who owns property in the Bowman Center off State Route 2 and U.S. 17--which the trail may run through--said he likes the concept. "But I don't think it's going to work without some government influence to push the issue," he added.

The Spotsylvania Planning Department and the Virginia Tech Community Design Assistance Center presented possible routes for the trail at a community meeting Tuesday.

The Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative--a grassroots organization that has secured grants and volunteers for trail projects--is spearheading the proposal.

The Deep Run Spur Trail is part of about 100 miles of trails in the county's Trailways Master Plan, which supervisors approved in 2011.

The county Board of Supervisors hasn't dedicated any funding for the path, and some members don't want to. Four of the seven supervisors took office this year, and all ran as fiscal conservatives.

Board Chairwoman Ann Heidig, who was elected last year and is opposed to funding trails with county money, said she worries Spotsylvania would incur costs to maintain them.

"My concern has always been, once the trail is built and you turn it over to the county, what's it going to cost me?" she said. "For the number of people that might use it, is it something that is per capita worth the expense? All of that I think needs to be looked at as we move forward."

Spotsylvania Supervisor Paul Trampe, who is part of the board's conservative majority, said he hopes the Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative can fund the trail without taxpayer dollars. The group has done a "wonderful job" of that in the past, he said.

"I'm not absolutely against using taxpayer dollars for trails, but of course it depends on how much and what other funding is available," Trampe said.

Federal grants are available, but those require matching contributions from local governments.

Generally speaking, the trail would start by the Rappahannock River behind the Bowman Center. It would head west past Slaughter Pen Farm and connect to Lee Drive--part of the East Coast Greenway.

The Virginia Tech design center has proposed extending the path past Lee Drive to Mary Lee Carter Park off Benchmark Road and the future Virginia Railway Express station.

Some of the issues with that plan include a lack of space along Benchmark Road, part of which runs parallel to railroad tracks.

Russ Smith, superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, said he hadn't seen specific proposals but is generally "very much in favor of the trail, although many details have to be worked out."

"As we can see from the use of Lee Drive and other areas of the park, there certainly is a demand," he said.

Chris Folger, chairwoman of the Greenways Initiative, said she recognizes the funding issues.

"We're going to have to figure out how to get access to bigger money if we're going to make bigger things happen," she said. "The Deep Run trail would be a more ambitious trail than anything we've tackled before."

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com





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