The money needed to cover the costs of a proposed 43-mile regional walking and biking trail continues to fall into place.
The Central Virginia Transit Authority voted Friday to allocate $104.5 million toward the Fall Line, which would run from Petersburg to Ashland.
The authority also voted last week to make a formal request of the governor’s office to include in the state budget the remaining $132 million needed. About $73 million in state and local funding is already considered committed toward the project.
The CVTA is a regional authority established last year to allocate tax revenues to transportation projects in the region. Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Ashland, Goochland, Powhatan, New Kent and Charles City are represented on the authority.
The Fall Line’s current cost estimate now sits at about $300 million. The authority’s expectation is that cost projections will continue to be tweaked in the coming years as the trail is built out.
The latest estimate factors in 3 percent annual inflation through fiscal year 2027 based on a recent VDOT project estimate of $250 million in 2021 dollars, CVTA Interim Executive Director Chet Parsons said at the meeting.
“We’ve had time to think more and the technical committee understood these estimates were based on 2021 dollars and that may not be the most realistic way to present our case to the state for funding assistance,” he said.
Leading the project is Richmond nonprofit Sports Backers. Local governments and The Capital Trail Foundation are also involved in the project.
Louise Lockett Gordon, director of Sports Backers’ Bike Walk RVA program, has said she hopes the Fall Line will be completed within a decade. The project kicked off under the name Ashland to Petersburg Trail with a feasibility study in 2019.
The trail would largely be new construction, though it would link existing trails at Chester Linear Park and Ashland Trolley Line Trail as well as other planned local projects.
There isn’t a set start date for trail construction yet, Parsons said in a phone call after the meeting. The CVTA is expected to meet in January and at that point Parsons said there would be a firmer idea of where things stand on existing local efforts and what to work on next.
The trail is similar to the 52-mile Capital Trail, which links Richmond to the Williamsburg area and was fully operational in 2015, in that it’s a paved walking-and-biking trail that runs through several localities.
But whereas the Capital Trail mostly runs through rural areas and is largely used as a recreational amenity, Gordon has said the assumption is that most Fall Line users will be travelers as the north-south line will more regularly pass through suburban and urban areas.
CVTA’s Fall Line contribution comes in slightly south of a previous funding projection of $108 million.