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SVBC gathering support for Shenandoah Rail Trail

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:43 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition is looking to round up public support to make sure the proposed Shenandoah Rail Trail becomes a reality by collecting 5,000 signatures in support of the project by Monday.

Back in December, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam included $245 million in his outgoing budget for outdoor recreation projects across the state including the rail trail.

Now with the Virginia General Assembly back in session, supporters of the trail are hoping legislators will keep that money on the table.

“The studies have been done, the state just released last week, a study on the feasibility of the project and really it’s gonna come down to whether or not we can preserve some of this funding and how our valley legislators can support the project,” Kyle Lawerence, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition said.

The Shenandoah Rail Trail would convert a 48.5-mile inactive Norfolk-Southern Railroad corridor into a recreational trail running from Broadway to Front Royal.

“The trail is gonna be an amazing asset for the Valley, obviously the quality of life for folks who live here to be able to walk and bike as part of their everyday lives, whether its more recreation or transportation, that’s crucial,” Lawrence said.

The trail could also have economic benefits. An economic impact analysis of the proposal completed back in October says that the Shenandoah Rail Trail will generate $32.3 million per year in new spending in the region via new visitors once fully opened.

SVBC is part of the Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership which includes representatives from every locality along the route in Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.

If the project is funded and the corridor is purchased from Norfolk-Southern, which has shown a willingness to sell, the goal is for it to be complete by 2030.

“It’s a once in a generation opportunity, we will never get another corridor like this throughout the Shenandoah Valley that’s graded and accessible and runs through so many small towns and communities,” said Lawrence.

Despite overwhelming support from local government leaders around the area, the SVBC is asking supporters to sign a letter online from the Virginia Trails Alliance that will be sent to members of the General Assembly next week.

“If you think this project should happen, particularly if you live in one of the localities where it will be, it’s just so important to reach out to your elected officials and let them know that you support it,” said Lawrence.

You can sign the letter of support for the Shenandoah Rail Trail here.

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