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Fall Line Trail slowly takes shape in Henrico

Officials stand with shovels as they participate in a ground breaking ceremony
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Henrico County officials participate in a ground breaking ceremony of the Fall Line Trail on Oct. 18, 2023.

County officials say construction on the 43-mile trail has made incremental progress.

Henrico County continues to take small steps towards making the Fall Line Trail a reality following the county’s ceremonial groundbreaking last year.

On Tuesday, the county's board of supervisors approved several resolutions related to the Fall Line Trail. It was a milestone of progress for the 43-mile, bike and walking trail, as the county granted the Virginia Department of Transportation the right to access county property.

The agreements are connected to the Longdale section of the north-south trail. The board’s latest action means once Henrico has completed construction of its trail section, it will be maintained by the VDOT — similar to the Virginia Capital Trail between Richmond and Jamestown.

During Tuesday’s proceedings the board also approved the acquisition of portions of the Lakeside Community Trail, where the county began its preliminary construction on a quarter-mile section in October, with a shared-use path from Bryan Park to Lakeside Avenue.

Henrico’s planning commission is also evaluating additional trail connections in other parts of the county. Public Works director Terrell Hughes told VPM News the county is still acquiring some privately-owned parcels of land in order to continue work on the Fall Line Trail.

“Securing those easements is very important and we are happy to have reached an agreement with the family,” Hughes said of one parcel.

Henrico is responsible for constructing around 7.5 miles of the 43-mile paved trail, which will connect several localities including: the town of Ashland, Hanover County, Henrico County, Richmond City, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights City, and Petersburg City.

The 12-foot-wide, multi-use trail is projected to cost Henrico $29.8 million and will be funded through a combination of local and state funds, grants and money distributed by the Central Virginia Transportation Authority.

The trail was originally projected to cost around $266 million before private donations and federal grants raised around $252 million to offset the cost, which have gone up due to inflation and other design reasons.

Henrico is still in the midst of acquiring necessary parcels and negotiating access to make substantial progress in the county's next phase of construction.

“We are still in the early phases of easement acquisition since we have acquired only 5/76 of the total parcels needed for the Fall Line Trail,” Hughes said in an email.

That said, Hughes noted that around 80% (6 miles out of the 7.5 miles) of trail length in Henrico is owned by the county and/or Dominion Energy.

County officials project that Henrico will complete its seven-mile portion of the Fall Line by 2026. This year, 20 miles of the trail will be under construction across the region. All 43 miles are expected to be completed by 2030.

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.