Virginia Office of Trails Allocated $89 Million

The newly formed agency is tasked with developing and improving trail networks in the state.

2 minute read

October 28, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Virginia’s new Office of Trails must now figure out how to spend the $89 million allocated to the new state agency, reports Wyatt Gordon for the Virginia Mercury.

According to Gordon, “While a number of lawmakers have already bragged to their constituents about securing funds for regional projects, no spending decisions beyond a first $5 million round have been made.”

“The official record of lawmakers’ financial negotiations came in the form of a letter to Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller this summer. The Commonwealth Transportation Board formalized legislators’ wish list in August via a resolution to assign $1 million each to five favored trails: the Eastern Shore Rail Trail, the Shenandoah Valley Rail Trail, the Tobacco Heritage Trail, the Peaks to Creeks Trail and the Craig Valley Trail.”

Angel Deem, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s chief of policy, says the office will prioritize the creation of a trails clearinghouse and a state trails plan as first steps toward ensuring transparency for the new agency. “The trails data clearinghouse will bring under one umbrella all information on trails across the commonwealth, including mapping, cost estimates, alignments and whether a project has already passed planning and environmental review.”

As Gordon points out, “With a $266 million projected price tag for the 43-mile Fall Line Trail through Richmond as a reference, exhausting the existing trails dollars ought to be no problem. The bigger conundrum will likely be where further funding can be found,” signaling a need to secure sustainable, long-term funding for the office.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 in The Virginia Mercury

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