Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Work begins on third phase of river trail
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Apr 28, 2014, 15:47

BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The end of the Appomattox River Greenway Trail currently is under the I-95 bridge.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Construction is under way on the third phase of a $1.5 million trail project along the bank of the Appomattox River in Colonial Heights.

Currently, the Appomattox River Greenway Trail runs south from Roslyn Landing Park to the Interstate 95 overpass, with the third phase extending the trail an additional 3,500 feet west to Route 1/301, the Boulevard, and expected to be complete by the end of June.

The idea for the project was jump started through the city council nearly a decade ago, according to George Schanzenbacher, the director of planning and development in Colonial Heights.

Dating back to 2005, with the initial phase of constructing Roslyn Landing Park behind the city animal shelter and adding a boat launch, the project aims to connect both Roslyn Landing and the Appamattuck Park through the creation of a scenic riverside trail.

Stretching along two miles of the river bank, the finished trail system will open up extensive access to the water for swimming, boating and fishing.

“Water is one of the few amenities that we have that we never really took advantage of, and we’re beginning to recognize its value,” Schanzenbacher said.

Compliant to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the trail, paved eight feet wide with two feet of shoulders on each side, is also accessible for emergency vehicles to drive throughout the entire path.

Included in the third phase, an historic railroad embankment runs through the trail, 15 feet above the grade looking out over the water, so a ramp is being constructed to allow all travelers access to the top of the overlook.

The outlook will be fenced in and contain a little plaza with historic information for sightseers to enjoy the view, Schanzenbacher said.

The majority of the project’s total costs, approximately $1.2 million, was funded through individual donors, governmental grants and a healthy contribution from the Cameron Foundation, Schanzenbacher said.

With the third phase of the project under way, and two years of environmental review under the project’s belt, the fourth and final phase is currently in the design stage, and construction will begin in 2015, Schanzenbacher said.

Focused mostly on Appamattuck Park, the fourth phase will also include many historical landmarks such as old railroad beds and ancient Native American sites, Schanzenbacher said.

“It’s really going to be unique. Something you wouldn’t normally expect to see on a trail,” Schanzenbacher said.

Citizens in the city have demonstrated growing interest in the recreational use of a river trail, and Schanzenbacher said this is a great thing for the community.

“The citizens enjoy using the trail, and I think over time...the concept will expand...It makes sense to develop trails and certainly in other communities they have been very successful,” Shanzenbacher said.

Besides increasing the community’s interest in recreation and the outdoors, Schanzenbacher said that another positive aspect that could spring from this trail system includes a citywide trail plan that is being developed by the Planning Commission.

The Colonial Heights Appomattox River Trail System (CHARTS) is a citizen committee that was created by the city to provide additional assistance for the development of this and upkeep of this greenway trail.

Ideally, the long-term goal, with the help of Friends of the Lower Appomattox River and other organizations, is to develop trails along the entirety of the Appomattox River, Shanzenbacher said.

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