VDOT has published its virtual presentation on the Rails to Trails Bike Path being proposed for the Eastern Shore.
The proposed trail would be 50 miles long, adding to the existing trail, stretching from where the current path ends in Capeville, north to Hallwood. The addition would also include a leg of the trail which would go into Cape Charles.
VDOT says the survey received a large amount of feedback. Conducted from May 15 through June 5, the survey had approximately 6,000 comments from 3,400 participants. According to VDOT, only 40% of the survey’s respondents lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, 34% lived in the Greater Hampton Roads area, 17% elsewhere in Virginia and 9% outside of the state. 90% of the participants said they would visit the path if it was built.
The concept would include a shared use path for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and, shown in the video, horse back riders. Pedestrians would be able to cross the roads as installed signal controls allowed and cross the many non-marked crossings at their own risk.
The trail would come with vehicle parking, informational kiosks, bike racks and other amenities.
The proposed path has an estimated price tag of $43 million, a number that could change. Cape Charles, Onley and Accomack County have applied for portions of this section of the trail to be included in VDOT”S Smart Scale Funding, representing about half of the overall cost. A determination on these requests will be made in July 2021.
While 90% of those who participated in the survey are enthusiastic about the project, it is not without its detractors. Several in the agricultural community have expressed opposition to the plan due to fear of liability of having such a public trail in close proximity to several farms and, in one case, actually going through a family’s farm.
The next steps for the survey include reviewing cost estimates and providing an updated number, creating a technical report and an online study map. The presentation predicts this trail will in all likelihood be completed in several small projects over the next several years. The long term goal of planners is to have the trail eventually connect to Maryland.
VDOT’s virtual presentation video can be seen in its entirety below: