Heavy rains and river flooding earlier this year did not deter contractors from working on the latest stretch of Stafford County’s Belmont–Ferry Farm Trail.

The new .73-mile extension—scheduled for completion in September—runs from John Lee Pratt Memorial Park, below Chatham Manor, along the Rappahannock River, to its endpoint at Chatham Bridge.

The riverfront stretch has a price tag of $955,000 and accommodates both pedestrians and bicycles. It will connect to the existing 1.92 miles of trail between Gari Melchers Home and Studio and Pratt Park.

From the bridge, pedestrians can continue to downtown Fredericksburg and onto the Rappahannock River Heritage Trail. That trail connects with the Rappahannock Canal Path.

The final phase of Stafford’s trail system, which is in the planning stage, is slated to run from the Chatham Bridge along Naomi Road, cross under the CSX Transportation bridge tunnel and end at Cool Springs Road. From there, existing bike lanes would allow trail users further access to the county.

That stretch of trail—scheduled for completion in 2022—will be .89 miles in length.

“We are working right now on finalizing the property acquisition needs for that final piece and segment, as well as working with VDOT and CSX on the crossing,” said Stafford Public Works Director Jason Towery.

When that segment of the trail is completed, pedestrians will be able to travel great distances in either direction.

According to Towery, “the idea is to connect to a larger bike–ped network.”

“You’ll literally be able to get on your bike—let’s say over at the Dollar General off Deacon Road—and ride your bike all the way down along Cool Springs Road and then come down the trail, cross the bridge into the city and go all the way up the other side to Wegmans,” said Towery.

County supervisors had considered extending the trail to the intersection of Ferry Road and State Route 3.

“Right now, there hasn’t been anything worked out there. The current alignment stops at the Cool Springs intersection,” said Towery.

Kelly Hannon, communications manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Fredericksburg District, said officials from her agency meet regularly with county staff on a variety of transportation projects.

“VDOT would be part of the project’s coordination team to assess how the alignment would affect maintenance of the road and structure,” Hannon wrote.

As for the possibility of the trail someday reaching George Washington’s Ferry Farm, Jessica Burger, the communication, marketing and technology manager for the George Washington Foundation, said her organization “is always interested in learning more about proposed community amenities.”

Stafford Supervisor Tom Coen said he’s “in favor at looking at all the options,” with regards to a possible extension to Ferry Road.

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James Scott Baron: 540/374-5438 jbaron@freelancestar.com

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