The members of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission have indicated support for two separate planning efforts for more pathways in the region. Both Albemarle County and Greene County are seeking federal funds to build new infrastructure.
“The grant would fund a shared bike pedestrian path from the city of Charlottesville to Crozet likely along U.S. 250,” said Jessica Hersh-Ballering, a transportation planner with Albemarle County. “From there it would continue west all the way to the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Nelson County.”
“In Greene, because we are a more rural community, there are no walking paths even in our growth area,” said Jim Frydl, the Greene County Planning Director. “If you live in the housing that’s in the growth area, there’s no safe way to walk to the shopping and the work centers.”
A federal infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Congress last year has increased funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant program, which goes by the acronym RAISE.
Albemarle is requesting between $1.5 million and $3 million for the planning effort. The idea would be to build something that works as both a functional transportation use as well as a recreational destination that could attract tourism as is the case with the Virginia Capital Trail.
“This is a range that we are requesting because we are still working through our budget for this project with some local consultants,” Hersh-Ballering said. “We will have a number somewhere in this range finalized by the time we submit our application next week.”
If funded, the project would first conduct a feasibility study, particularly to identify a route between Crozet and the Blue Ridge Tunnel.
“It could go directly through Crozet, it could go a little south of Crozet and go near more schools, or it could follow potentially the CSX railroad line to have a very gentle grade for the entirety of that section,” Hersh-Ballering said.
The funding would also include public outreach as well as “functional design” for the trail that would fall short of environmental review required for the project to go to construction.
“So the idea is that it would be really expensive to construct the project all at once so what we’re probably going to do is identify those pieces that can stand-alone and then use some of our more common, smaller funding sources to fund construction separately,” Hersh-Ballering said.
The entire route would span between 25 to 30 miles and would connect three localities. The TJPDC agreed to send a letter of support without comment.
Greene County is seeking a $1.4 million RAISE grant to plan for a trail between the South River Falls in the northwest of the county to the town of Stanardsville, A second pathway would follow along U.S. 33 to connect to the unincorporated area of Ruckersville.
“And then interconnectivity pathways in Ruckersville that connect the two nodes of the Ruckersville growth area,” Frydl said.
Frydl said Greene’s project would also likely be built in phases.
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