Funding for the Rappahannock Schools Connector Trail was approved Wednesday, June 20, by a unanimous vote of the state Commonwealth Transportation Board.
The board allocated the project the full amount requested — $815,871 — for construction of a 1.2 mile, paved multi-use trail adjacent to Highway 211 connecting the Rappahannock County elementary and high schools. This stretch is expected to be the initial leg of a Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors’ backed 6-mile trail that will eventually link Sperryville and Washington.
County residents Jane Whitfield and Cliff Miller IV, organizers of a nonprofit group called RappTrails, first proposed the 6-mile trail at the October 2016 Planning Commission meeting. Despite opposition by some citizen activists, the BOS approved a resolution in support of the project at its August 2017 meeting.
“We envision this as a multi-use trail for all residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors, walking, biking, jogging and being active in a safe environment that’s a separate path from the road,” said Whitfield at the October 2016 meeting.
The grant 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. The budget includes a 30 percent contingency of $157,916 for construction costs in an effort to protect against unanticipated expenses.
“This is such an exciting moment for the Schools Connector Trail Project!,” wrote Whitfield in an email to the Rappahannock News on Friday. “We are one step closer to creating a new place for safe, accessible outdoor recreation in Rappahannock County.
“As we wait for the official grant agreement between the County and VDOT to be developed and approved, RappTrails will continue fundraising efforts to create a beautification and upkeep fund. With collaboration, and a bit of luck, this trail could be completed by the end of next year. I can already envision children riding their bikes, groups of friends walking, and our county seniors enjoying a stroll on the path. Anyone interested in learning more or in donating to the effort can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”