By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — The River City’s dream of a 6.5-mile round-trip trail for bicycling and walking is about to begin the next phase in early summer.
Mercury remediation work by DuPont last year behind Shiloh Baptist Church in Port Republic and to North Park is complete, and blazed the trail for phase 2B of Waynesboro’s South River Greenway.
“They laid the groundwork for the actual trail,” said Dwayne Jones, director of the Waynesboro Parks & Recreation Department.
While the city held off on physical work on the trail during the pandemic, DuPont was performing mercury remediation along the river’s shoreline.
Jones said that the city will adapt its plan for the Greenway from Shiloh Baptist Church to North Park with DuPont’s plans for mercury remediation.
The city has the necessary easements from the Port Republic neighborhood and final drawings from engineers are with the Virginia Department of Transportation for approximately 45 days of review.
When the city gets the notice to proceed, Jones said, the bidding process to build phase 2B of the Greenway will begin, hopefully in early summer 2021.
“We are quickly pushing them to move as fast as possible and get it finished,” Jones said of the review process.
Jones said completion of the Greenway from Shiloh Baptist Church to North Park, or about eight tenths of a mile, is expected to be complete by the end of 2021.
“It’s a different river experience than across [the city] and downtown,” Jones said of this section of the Greenway, which is mostly wooded on both sides.
Most of the Greenway will provide “nice views of the river” from above the river.
In North Park, two stairs will provide access for walkers to get down to the river.
Preliminary funding has been secured, according to Jones, for architectural and engineering plans regarding phase 4 of the Greenway after July 2021. Phase 4 would stretch the Greenway from North Park to Basic Park, and complete the Greenway’s stretch around the River City for the time being.
“I will never say we’re done,” Jones said of plans for the Greenway. For example, a far-off goal has always been to connect the Greenway with the newly opened Crozet Tunnel.
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern, Jones said social distancing is encouraged while biking or walking on the Greenway.
“We are open. We have been open throughout the pandemic,” he said of the Greenway.
Waynesboro wants to provide opportunities for residents to remain active outdoors, especially during the pandemic. North Park provides opportunities for baseball, as well as restroom facilities.
“We are building [the Greenway expansion] absolutely as fast as we can,” Jones said.