State transportation board recommends full grant funding for Schools Connector Trail

In a meeting Tuesday, April 16, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board recommended full grant funding of $815,871 for the Rappahannock Schools Connector Trail project, a 1.2 mile ADA accessible multi-use biking and walking trail.

That according to an email from Russ Dudley, Assistant Division Administrator for VDOT.

When built, the schools connector trail will run between the Rappahannock County High School and Elementary School.

This is the first leg of a proposed six-mile trail that would eventually link Sperryville and Washington.

The funding recommendation is the result of a VDOT Transportation Alternatives Program grant application submitted last November by the Rappahannock County government, in collaboration with RappTrails, and the Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission.

After full approval by the CTB in June, grant awards would be finalized, with projects able to begin as early as August.

The trail timeline includes a one-year planning and engineering phase, followed by an estimated 18-month construction period.

The projected project budget, as detailed in the VDOT TAP grant application, is $1,022,339. The VDOT TAP grant award, when finalized, would be $815,871.

The grant application requires that at least 20 percent of the project budget be covered by non-grant funds. RappTrails has raised $206,468 to meet this requirement, surpassing the required 20 percent by $2,500.

It is worth noting that the budget includes a 30 percent contingency of $157,916 for construction costs in an effort to protect against unanticipated expenses.

County residents Jane Whitfield and Cliff Miller IV first proposed the 6-mile trail at the October 2016 Planning Commission meeting. Despite opposition to the trail by some citizen activists, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution in support of the project at its August 2017 meeting.

“We are thankful that the Commonwealth Transportation Board and VDOT see the value of this project and have recommended that it be funded,” said Whitfield, founder and co-chair of RappTrails. “The schools are at the heart of the community and we could not be happier that this project will serve children and families, and residents and visitors of all ages. The community has come together to support the trail and, as a result, everyone will benefit.”

About Patty Hardee 285 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.