Smithfield seeks $17.8 million for bike trail

Published 4:14 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

\Smithfield is seeking $17.8 million in Virginia Department of Transportation funding for its park-to-park trail costs.

Isle of Wight County completed its 3.1-mile portion of the asphalt bicycle and pedestrian trail, spanning Nike Park and Battery Park roads, for $8.6 million in 2021. Last year, the Smithfield Town Council voted to move forward with a town-funded segment that would extend the path down South Church Street and across the Cypress Creek bridge to connect Nike Park with Windsor Castle Park.

Local applications for the fifth round of Smart Scale, a VDOT formula for evaluating the cost versus benefit of roadway improvements, were due Aug. 1. According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, Smithfield recently submitted such an application listing the project cost at $17.8 million.

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The council voted unanimously on Aug. 2 to issue a resolution of support for the Smart Scale application, which had been included in the meeting’s consent agenda.

In 2019, Smithfield’s 1-mile trail segment was projected to cost up to $3.3 million. As of April, the estimate had nearly doubled to $6 million due to the project’s scope having expanded to include road work.

At the council’s March 28 committee meetings, engineer Andrew Farthing of Kimley-Horn and Associates said the two-lane stretch of South Church Street is presently too flat to accommodate curb-and-gutter drainage infrastructure for the proposed multiuse path. To allow water to flow off the road rather than pool in its center, the street would need to be reconstructed with artificially created high and low points.

At the same meeting, Farthing proposed achieving the needed drainage improvements by widening the street to include a center turn lane, which VDOT had considered in 2008.

The Smart Scale application the town submitted calls for a “full reconstruction” of South Church Street, Stallings said, including one travel lane in each direction, plus the proposed center turn lane, curbs and gutters along both sides and the shared-use path along the east side.

According to Stallings, the latest $17.8 million request includes “contingency” and “escalation” costs based on Smart Scale’s calculation.

“Those increases alone result in almost $5 million,” Stallings said.

The $17.8 million figure also includes right-of-way acquisitions for both sides of the corridor.

If approved, the project would be 100% funded with Smart Scale money and added to VDOT’s six-year road improvements plan. The earliest funds would come available is during the 2025-26 fiscal year, Stallings said. The town anticipates two years to finalize design and another two years to acquire right-of-way before construction could start.

VDOT will score Smart Scale submissions over the next six months and announce its funding plan around May 2023.