The Northampton Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Barbara Schwenk with the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission about the proposed 3rd phase of the Southern Tip Bike Trail Monday evening. Phase I begins at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center and goes to Cedar Grove Drive. The construction of Phase II is scheduled to begin this spring and will go from Cedar Grove Drive and finish just behind the Cape Center on Capeville Road. The bike trail is built on the right of way of the old Eastern Shore railroad track, which was acquired by the Nature Conservancy in 1987.
Schwenk laid out the various ideas for completing the third leg of the bike trail which will go from the Cape Center north along Lankford Highway and cross over into Cape Charles.
The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission held an open house for public comment and feedback on the proposal Wednesday, January 17 in Cape Charles. A local farmer expressed concern the trail would go directly through one of his fields, close to an irrigation pond and equipment. He was worried he would be held liable if someone was injured. Another resident was worried about the trail’s proximity to his backyard. It was also suggested installing a new traffic signal at Kiptopeke Elementary School and allow the trail to cross Lankford Highway there.
According to Schwenk, Phase I was built for $500,000 a mile. Northampton Board Chair Spencer Murray pointed out Phase III is much longer and much more complicated a route than Phase I. At more than 7 miles, the trail would cost at least $3.5 million. Although federal grants are available which could fund 80% of the project, the Northampton Board still expressed concern over finding the remaining 20%.
Schwenk and the ANPDC Director Curt Smith were asking the Board for their guidance as to what parts of the plan they liked and didn’t like before sending it to an engineer for a feasibility study. After some discussion, the Board agreed an actual trail, rather than a path along busy road ways, while perhaps more expensive, would be the preferable route.