Capital Trail Trouble

14 Jun

The public information meeting on the Varina section of the Virginia Capital Trail held last week did not go so well.  I’m not sure exactly how it went down (I was unfortunately out of town), but according to reports there was a very vocal minority opposed to the proposed alignment as a separated path.  Comments are being taken until this Saturday, June 16, so please take a minute or two to write a message today to VDOT expressing your support for the separated trail.  This is it folks: if opponents win this, the Richmond end of the trail will be a nice little prelude to an uninviting widened shoulder on Route 5 through Henrico.

Below is the text from an email sent out by Capital Trail Foundation Executive Director Beth Weisbrod, with suggested text for emails to VDOT:

We need your help.

As you may have heard, VDOT held a public input meeting last week regarding the 10 mile Varina section of the Virginia Capital Trail.  Trail supporters easily outnumbered opponents, but the opponents had the floor for the bulk of the meeting.  In most cases, their opposition was based on inaccurate or outdated information.  But their voices were heard.

At the meeting, people were encouraged to fill out comment forms so their input would be counted.  The public comment period is open until June 16.

Please take the time to write an email supporting the trail, its proposed alignment as a separate trail on the north side of Rt. 5, and its completion by mid-2014. Also, please circulate this message to all of the people you know who would be willing to send in an email and be counted.  Henrico County zip codes are important, but not necessary.

Here are two samples of emails, but feel free to create your own.   Otherwise cut and paste, edit as you wish, and send to the email address below by midnight Saturday, June 16.

Thank you for taking the time to add your support!

Beth Weisbrod
Executive Director,
VCTF

Email:

info@virginiacapitaltrail.org and put: “Varina phase” in the memo line.

Sample #1

Dear Mr. Reichert,

Thank you for VDOT’s work on the Virginia Capital Trail. This project will be a great asset to residents of the Commonwealth as well as visitors. With each section that is finished, more and more people of all ages are using the trail for a variety of purposes.

As a frequent user of the trail, I strongly support the proposed alignment and feel that the separation between the road and trail is extremely important to the safety of the users and the trail’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. I hope the alignment through Varina will be approved as proposed so it will be complete by 2014.   And when the World Cycling Championships come to town the following year, Richmond can proudly show the Virginia Capital Trail to a world-wide audience.

Sincerely,
[NAME AND ADDRESS]

Sample #2

Dear Mr. Reichert:

I support the current alignment of the Virginia Capital Trail as it passes through eastern Henrico County and Varina.  This trail has been in development for over 7 years, and people of the region eagerly anticipate its completion.  The proposed alignment has been well designed, with a sensitivity towards keeping the rural character of eastern Henrico intact.  It is also an alignment affecting the fewest private landowners, while still maintaining a safe separation from Rt. 5.  This separation is critical to the trail’s value to the community.  Children riding bikes, bird watchers, and those enjoying the historical attractions will share this trail with runners, walkers and cyclists.  But only if it is safely separate from cars.

People of all ages, interests and abilities already use the completed portions of the trail in Charles City and James City Counties in large numbers.  Even the short half-mile section in downtown Richmond is crowded with people exercising, commuting, enjoying the riverfront and the outdoors.

I urge you to continue the progress so we can begin to enjoy the entire trail by mid-2014.

Sincerely,
[NAME AND ADDRESS]

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