Town OK’s bike trail planning funds

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Segment cost estimated at $2.4 – $3.3 million

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

The cost to build the third part of the Park-to-Park trail in Smithfield is now estimated at $2.4 to $3.34 million, according to Town Manager Brian Thrower. 

That segment would be the final leg connecting Nike Park with Windsor Castle Park, but the town has to decide in July on which of five routes it wants to take. 

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The Town Council voted June 4 to dedicate $237,112 to the multi-million dollar project for preliminary planning. 

Of that, $221,015 is sourced from the town’s VDOT allocation, according to Thrower, also known as the town’s “urban fund.” That along with the the town contribution, will be for the portion of the trail running from the Cypress Creek Bridge to the intersection at Battery Park Road.   {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

While Segment 3 is located within town limits and thus under the purview of the town, the other two segments are under the county’s control. Completion of all three segments would link Windsor Castle Park to Nike Park, which explains the trail’s name. A portion of the trail along Battery Park Road was recently completed. 

The contract, awarded by Isle of Wight County, to build the first two segments was $6 million, with more than $4 million coming from state and federal grants. 

The combined town and VDOT funds will go toward “preliminary engineering, right-of-way and construction of this project,” according to the June 4 Town Council agenda, and Thrower said that the price of completing the trail could climb higher than the estimates, based on right-of-way and utility relocation costs.

The Park-to-Park Trail has been underway for many years, with Isle of Wight County resident Leah Dempsey stating at the January Town Council meeting that she’s been pushing the trail effort since the 1990s. In 2013, the town signed a resolution calling for the use of VDOT urban funds to be directed toward the completion of Segment 3 of the trail, which at that time was estimated at $1 million. In years following, the urban funds were divvied out to other projects, including the Joseph W. Luter Jr. Sports Complex turn lane and improvements to the Benn’s Church Boulevard and South Church Street intersection, leaving $221,015 of the original $1.2 million for the trail.  

Thrower said that the project will require right-of-way acquisition from private landowners, and that the extent of the right-of-way needed will depend on the route chosen. “Preparation of preliminary design plans will help give us a better estimate of right of way required,” said Thrower. 

Thrower said that, under the most optimistic of schedules, it will be years before the project is completed, since preliminary design plans need to be prepared and funding sources need to be identified and committed before construction can start. A contractor has not yet been chosen for the project, said Thrower.  

Thrower said that the $16,097 is sourced from the town’s general fund revenues.  

“If an actual shared use path option is chosen, VDOT requires a minimum width of 10 feet. VDOT also recommends asphalt be used for shared use paths,” said Thrower. 

To perform the actual construction of the trail, the town will need to pursue grant funding that VDOT must approve, said Thrower. “There are a couple of options such as VDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Smart Scale. The town could also fund the remainder of the project itself, however, this would be costly,” said Thrower. 

Smart Scale is a program through VDOT that designates tax revenue to projects based on the state’s most critical transportation needs, according to, and TAP, also through VDOT, administers funds for smaller scale, non-motorized transportation projects based on application, according to  {/mprestriction}