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Hanover officials celebrate groundbreaking of Fall Line Trail

Hanover County officials are seen breaking ground for the new portion of the Fall Line Trail.
Hanover County
Hanover officials celebrate the groundbreaking of its portion of the 43-mile regional trail known as the Fall Line on April 23, 2024. META:

The county will soon start construction on a five-mile portion of the multi-use trail.

Hanover County is the latest locality to break ground on its portion of a multiregional trail known as the Fall Line. Originally named the Ashland to Petersburg Trail, this 43-mile trail will connect several communities with a multi-use bike and pedestrian path.

Leaders from Hanover and Henrico Counties and the town of Ashland held a ceremonial groundbreaking to celebrate the start of construction along a 4.8-mile portion just outside of Ashland on Tuesday.

This section will extend the existing completed section of the trail in Ashland to Woodman Road in Henrico. This month’s celebration follows the October 2023 groundbreaking of Henrico’s phase of the Fall Line in Lakeside.

Over the next year, multiple phases comprising 20 miles of the trail will be under construction and are set to be completed sometime in 2026. Eventually, the Fall Line will connect to the Virginia Capital Trail and the Appomattox River Trail, with an expected completion date by 2030.

Sports Backers

“This is one of those projects that we are all equally proud of, and proud of the partnerships to bring this project to reality,” Hanover County Administrator John Budesky said. “We're excited that we're able to provide a product and a regional project that will serve all members of our communities and work together and raise even our other partnerships to higher levels.”

Hanover’s portion of the Fall Line will tread along the remnants of the historic Ashland Trolley Line — a railway that connected Ashland to the cities of Richmond and Petersburg in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The installation will include a major new bridge over the Chickahominy River and incorporate design elements to commemorate the trolley line’s historical significance. This section of the Fall Line will cost roughly $11.1 million and has been fully funded.

Over the past several years, localities and planning officials have helped secure around $241 million in federal, state and local funds for the Fall Line’s total construction cost of $400 million — an increase from the project's $300 million projected cost, primarily driven by inflation.

Chet Parsons, executive director of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority, said he’s proud the CTVA has fully committed to the project's completion with around $123 million allocated toward the project’s completion as the authority and its partners continue to seek funds for the trail.

“Today's celebration is a testament to the partnerships that are continuing to move this region forward,” Parsons said. “We have a lot of work left to do. Today is the time to pause and celebrate what we've done so far, but please continue to advocate and seek the additional funding that's necessary to complete the full 43 miles.”

As the Fall Line Trail begins to take shape, localities organizations have begun to envision how to shape recreational and economic opportunities around this multijurisdictional connector. Sports Backers — a Richmond-based, active living nonprofit — have championed the project since its conception.

Last year the organization announced it was moving its headquarters to one of the trailheads in Henrico. In February 2024, the nonprofit released a vision plan to support the implementation of context-sensitive projects designed along the corridor.

Jon Lugbill, executive director of Sports Backers said Tuesday he can’t wait for the culmination of the region’s shared commitment to finally be realized.

“We started this back in 2017, but the speed of the planning and getting this all developed and funding has actually been like lightning in a bottle,” Lugbill said. “To see the rest of the trail coming alive is really incredible… When this is completed, it will change the way people live on a daily basis.”

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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