Town Council looking at Lumar Road

Published 7:06 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

By Frederic Lee 

Staff writer

The Smithfield Town Council voted in favor of an asphalt bike and pedestrian trail that would run along Lumar Road and John Rolfe Drive, connecting the Cypress Creek Bridge to Battery Park Road. 

Some Lumar Road residents aren’t happy about the news. 

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The next step is for engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn to conduct an evaluation on that specific route and come back to Town Council with cost estimates and recommendations, said Town Council member Beth Haywood. 

The route starts at the Cypress Creek Bridge before taking Red Point Drive to connect to the north side of Lumar Road, then crossing multiple driveways to connect to John Rolfe Drive. The route then takes the east side of John Rolfe Drive down to the intersection at Battery Park Road, crossing it to connect to the trail there.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Haywood said that town officials haven’t pinned down exactly what widths the asphalt trail would be at various locations along the route and that they would be based on the Kimley-Horn evaluation and VDOT requirements.

Town Engineer Wayne Griffin said that a survey of the route would be required to learn how much space would be required for a multi-use trail and whether or not powerlines along the north side of Lumar Road would have to be moved. 

As long as the town is meeting VDOT’s standards, the route should be fine, said Haywood.

Feedback from Lumar Road residents on placing a bike and pedestrian trail in their front yards was mixed. 

Lumar Road resident Paul Morgan said that the trail wasn’t worth the money since he rarely sees pedestrians walking along the road, and that bikers can already use the existing road. 

He added that it would take an “awful lot of money” to convince him to sell land in his front yard to contribute to an eight-ft. or 10-foot trail, saying that it would take up half of his yard.  

These types of trails typically come with offset requirements of three feet on either side, according to Kimley Horn, plus a foot of right of way along the road, according to VDOT spokesperson Jordan-Ashley Walker.   

If those standards were followed, Morgan said that he’d have to cut down two Bartlett Pear trees in his front yard.

Haywood said that spacing limitations on Lumar Road might result in trail smaller than 10 feet. 

Lumar Road resident Jackson Goodman said that he would be fine with a trail as long as it doesn’t take up too much of his yard and he was compensated for property that would be used. 

He added that an eight-or 10-foot trail isn’t practical because of the amount of space that would be required. He and his wife, Maddie, also disliked the idea of losing a large section of their yard.  

Maddie “hated” the idea of ongoing construction in front of their house. 

“No matter which way we go, there’s going to be people that are mad,” said Haywood. 

Another Lumar Road resident, Easter Wise, was in favor of the trail since it would mean that she wouldn’t have to mow as much of her yard, and for safety reasons. “I see a whole lot of people out here trying to jog, and it’s dangerous,” she said. 

Haywood said that the public that she’d spoken to wanted an asphalt trail instead of a sidewalk, and that the Lumar Road and John Rolfe Drive route would be safer than others proposed while still accessible to the businesses on South Church Street.  

Town Council member Randy Pack said that he liked the trail that Haywood had proposed at the Aug. 6 Town Council meeting, but added that he’d prefer one that didn’t direct pedestrians and other trail goers to cross the Battery Park Road from John Rolfe Drive. He said that intersection was challenging to cross and dangerous, and instead suggested one that crossed at the Battery Park Road and South Church Street signaled intersection before connecting to John Rolfe Drive via Randsell Lane. 

Pack argued for an 8-foot trail instead of a 10-foot trail, and Town Manager Brian Thrower said that an 8-foot trail would probably require a waiver from VDOT. 

Having a trail on the east side of John Rolfe Drive would also provide bike and pedestrian access to Beale Park, located on Lumar Road, adding another park to the trail, said Haywood. 

Beale Park is a baseball and softball facility. 

Mayor Carter Williams said that Kimley-Horn will do an evaluation of whether it’s safer to go straight across Battery Park Road from John Rolfe Drive, or take a route from John Rolfe Drive along Ransdell Lane, and then south along South Church Street to connect to Battery Park Road. 

The route that Town Council chose is a variation of a route presented by Kimley-Horn on June 24. That path would have been composed of 10-foot wide asphalt and travel along the south side of Lumar Road and the west side of John Rolfe Drive., and received 13 votes at the town hall. It was estimated at $2.8 million, before right-of-way costs, according to Andrew Farthing with Kimley-Horn.  

Griffin said it was too early in the process to figure a cost estimate for this route. 

The route that received the most votes, 35, was a sidewalk along South Church Street from the bridge to the Battery Park Road intersection— a route also preferred by town staff. . 

This trail is one segment of the Park-to-Park Trail project that’s been ongoing in Isle of Wight County for more than 10 years. The other segments are under the purview county officials, and once complete, the trail will link Nike Park to Windsor Castle Park.    {/mprestriction}