Plans to extend the Virginia Central Railway Trail from Fredericksburg into Spotsylvania County have hit a roadblock.
The city had plans to build a bridge over Hazel Run, a creek near the Village of Idlewild subdivision where the trail ends. The project garnered $140,000 through the first round of the state’s Smart Scale program, which scores and ranks transportation projects for funding.
That approval happened in 2015. Since then, an increase in steel prices caused the project’s cost to spike by $135,000.
That led city officials to ask Spotsylvania officials if the county would pitch in to cover the added expense.
The Board of Supervisors took up the issue at Tuesday’s meeting. While the supervisors were interested in the expansion of the trail, the murky future of a westward extension led the board to deny the funding request.
The trail now covers 2.7 miles in the city. The county has a section of the VCR Trail to the west, between Harrison and Gordon roads.
Long-term plans call for creating a regional trail linking the city to Spotsylvania and Orange counties.
But there is no definite plan to extend the trail beyond the current end point, between Idlewild in the city and the Kingswood subdivision in Spotsylvania. The county line is within 100 feet from that end point.
Options include taking the trail to Interstate 95, where either a bridge or tunnel would have to be built to cross the interstate. County staff told the supervisors that work would cost millions of dollars.
Another option would take the trail along the right of way of the interstate to Harrison Road. Then, the trail would be built alongside Harrison. The supervisors seemed open to that option, but it remains unclear if that would get support from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Supervisor Gary Skinner said at this point “the bridge goes nowhere,” and the county has more pressing transportation issues than the trail.
The bridge is not dead in the water, though.
VDOT is expected to propose shifting funds to cover the additional cost for the trail bridge. That is scheduled to come up at Monday’s meeting of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee.
City Councilman Matt Kelly said in a Wednesday interview that the issue should be settled at the Monday meeting—either the bridge will get the additional funds or it won’t. If the project doesn’t get the money, the funds would then go back into the Smart Scale program.
“We’re not going to drag this out,” he said.