Home Waynesboro seeks grant to construct trail from Blue Ridge Tunnel to downtown

Waynesboro seeks grant to construct trail from Blue Ridge Tunnel to downtown

Crystal Graham
Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail
Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail: Photo courtesy Jack Looney.

The City of Waynesboro has a plan to develop a trail from the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel and get hikers and cyclists to the downtown area more safely than the current route along U.S. 250.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, City Planner Alisande Tombarge made a presentation along with a request for Council to adopt a resolution of support for the Waynesboro Western Portal Trail. The city is planning to submit an application for consideration of a 2023 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, transportation grant on Feb. 28 – and was looking for the City Council’s endorsement of the project.

According to Tombarge, no matching funds are required by the city for the project since it would be built in an area with a high poverty rate.

“The trail will provide a continuous bicycle and pedestrian trail from the Village of Afton and Route 6 down to the City of Waynesboro,” Tombarge said. “It will be a link to Three Knots Trail, which is a future 25-mile multi-use path from Charlottesville to the Village of Afton. And then, with hope for future connections both to Richmond and Staunton.”

A study of the 25-mile stretch from Charlottesville to Afton was funded by a 2022 RAISE planning grant.

According to the City Council briefing, the trail would be 1.3 miles and run parallel to U.S. 250, from the western end of the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Trail into Waynesboro. More specifically, the trail would start at 1800 E. Main St. in Waynesboro and end near the 1.75 milepost of the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail.

Tombarge said the trail would serve the approximately 2,000 hikers that come down from the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway to resupply in Waynesboro, and potentially the 73,000 visitors to the tunnel. It will also serve tourists to the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway.

The trail would be a boost to the East Main Street corridor, Tombarge said.

“This is an area that contains many chronically vacant buildings surrounded by low to moderate income neighborhoods,” she said. “And it’s hoped that through construction of this trail, and more people coming and the foot traffic, it will help revitalize that area and provide an opportunity to interest people to repurpose the vacant buildings into additional amenities along places like Blue Ridge Bucha and Rockfish Gap.”

As part of the agenda packet, a letter was also included from Waynesboro Mayor Lana Williams expressing her support of the project on behalf of City Council. All five City Council members’ names were included on the official city letterhead.

Addressed to the Honorable Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, the letter reads in part that Williams provides “enthusiastic support” for the project.

“The time is now to enhance this National Engineering Landmark that resides a stone’s throw from the convergence of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park and the City of Waynesboro.

“The successful award of the requested RAISE Grant will tremendously assist us in this endeavor, and provide a meaningful transportation option for all Virginians.”

After the presentation, Waynesboro City Council voted to adopt a resolution of support for the grant application.

The RAISE grant application is due by Feb. 28. Grant awards should be announced by June 28.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.