Following a flurry of major funding commitments last month, momentum is building behind a regional infrastructure project that could bring much-needed commercial investment to two Chesterfield communities.
On Dec. 3, the Central Virginia Transportation Authority’s (CVTA) board of directors voted to allocate $104.5 million in new regional sales and gas tax collections toward construction of the Fall Line Trail, which will traverse eastern Chesterfield as it winds north-south between the town of Ashland and the city of Petersburg.
The CVTA was enacted under state law July 1, 2020, and charged with administering transportation revenue generated from two new taxes – an additional 0.7% sales and use tax, and wholesale gas taxes of 7.6 cents per gallon of gasoline and 7.7 cents per gallon of diesel fuel – levied in the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, New Kent, Powhatan and Charles City; the city of Richmond; and the town of Ashland.
On Dec. 8, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved another $42.7 million to build parts of the 43-mile regional trail.
Then eight days later, outgoing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released his final biennial budget. While the proposal for fiscal years 2023-24 doesn’t mention the Fall Line by name, it does include $233 million for construction of multiuse trails across the commonwealth.
“The recent funding commitments reflect enthusiastic support for the Fall Line project across the Richmond region,” said Chris Winslow, chairman of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. “We recognize the trail’s unique potential to promote health and wellness, connectivity and economic development. I look forward to working with our legislative delegation and neighbor localities to secure the remaining state funds needed to ensure completion.”
Chesterfield already has $39.9 million in approved funding for eight Fall Line Trail segments totaling about 3.5 miles.
Nearly 19 miles of multi-use trail will be located within Chesterfield, easily the most of the seven participating jurisdictions.
According to the project map, Chesterfield’s stretch of the trail will begin at the Richmond line, run south along Route 1 to Chester Road, then follow an abandoned rail line to the village of Ettrick and Virginia State University.
Based on usage of an existing regional trail, the Virginia Capital Trail, county officials expect the Fall Line to bring large numbers of cyclists, runners and even tourists from outside the Richmond region to eastern Chesterfield.
The Board of Supervisors adopted special area plans for Ettrick/VSU in 2015 and the northern Route 1 corridor in 2018. The documents serve as a guide for the revitalization of two historic gateway communities that have not seen the same level of commercial development as other parts of Chesterfield.
“With a growing university and miles of Appomattox River frontage, Ettrick is positioned for future success,” said Matoaca District Supervisor Kevin Carroll. “Our Parks and Recreation Department has long-term plans to create a trail network here that will provide opportunities for outdoor recreation along the Appomattox. Construction of the Fall Line Trail will give visitors another great reason to explore the village.”
Unlike the Capital Trail, which covers mostly rural terrain between Richmond and Williamsburg, the Fall Line Trail will be located in more densely populated areas – creating opportunities for users to stop off for refreshments or shopping during their travels.
“I think the Fall Line could be even more successful than the Capital Trail,” said Bermuda District Supervisor Jim Ingle. “It will be a catalyst for new investment in the Route 1 corridor. I envision new restaurants, shops and other businesses locating along the trail, bolstering the local economy and providing a positive user experience that will keep people coming back.”
View the trail corridor using the interactive map above. Click the double arrow >> to view map legend details. The trail alignment outlined in the Virginia Department of Transportation's feasibility study is marked by the orange dotted line. Trail projects that are currently planned and/or funded are marked by black dotted lines. As projects are constructed, solid lines will represent completed sections. This map will be updated regularly as trail sections are completed.