Beginning this spring, users of Fredericksburg’s popular Virginia Central Railway Trail finally will be able to walk as far as Interstate 95 without splashing through Hazel Run.

The Fredericksburg City Council unanimously approved amending its fiscal year 2019 budget last week so that $140,000 in Virginia Department of Transportation funds can be used to build and install a bridge over the creek where the paved trail ends near Idlewild subdivision. It will connect to an unimproved, nearly two-thirds mile-long stretch of the old Virginia Central Railroad railway bed that ends at the base of the slope leading to the east side of I–95.

“The new bridge will arch over the two concrete abutments, without touching them,” said Erik Nelson, the city’s transportation administrator. “The bridge will also arch over the low area to the right, touching down near the existing Idlewild trailhead. There is another concrete abutment in that area that has been knocked over. As a consequence, the span will be 80 feet.”

The bridge will have a steel frame and Trex planking similar to the other bridges along the trail, Nelson said. The total estimated cost is $160,000. That figure includes $20,000 that the council appropriated in its 2018 budget for design and engineering services.

Nelson said the city will issue a request for proposal for a builder early next year, and the work should begin in early spring. New concrete abutments will be built, and the bridge will be dropped into place.

“It’s not going to take very long,” he said.

Fredericksburg created its portion of the VCR Trail to follow 3.5 miles of the old railway bed. The trail has been built in sections, with the first two opening in 2015.

They start at a trailhead in Cobblestone Square, an apartment and condominium complex off Lafayette Boulevard. The trail runs along and under Lafayette Boulevard, and then through Alum Spring Park to U.S. 1.

The third section opened in 2016 and goes from U.S. 1 to Idlewild as the railway bed follows and crosses over stretches of Hazel Run. The paved portion ends at a point just before the land slopes down to the creek and the remains of the old bridge.

The new bridge will make it possible for people living in Kingswood, a subdivision just past the city limits in Spotsylvania County, to access the city’s VCR trail and either walk or bike to and from downtown Fredericksburg.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

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