Construction to extend the Blackwater Creek Trail over the old railway trestle crossing Langhorne Road will begin this week, a project years in the making.
The project will bring the paved walking and biking trail from where it currently ends, at the Awareness Garden and Ed Page trail entrance on Langhorne Road, to the Linkhorne Middle School parking lot.
Construction will start immediately after a groundbreaking ceremony at the trail entrance at 1720 Langhorne Road at 10 a.m. on Thursday, said David Owen, project manager with Lynchburg Parks and Recreation.
Owen said the project will begin with extending the unpaved portion of the trail, and work on the bridge across Langhorne Road will start in early spring.
The $2.2 million project is set to finish in November 2020, said Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Jones, and will add 2,000 feet to the trail.
The construction is part of a larger plan to continue linking Lynchburg’s trail system, and Owen said this half-mile extension will help bring the trail closer to Peaks View Park, Bedford County and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. Currently, the trail is about three miles long.
Lynchburg City Manager Bonnie Svrcek said the project has been in the works for over 20 years, but the city did not receive funding for it until recently.
Svrcek said funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation allowed the project to finally move forward.
The city is funding 20% of the project out of its Capital Improvement Project funds, Owen said, and about $1.5 million is from VDOT, Jones said.
The bridge will undergo minor renovations, such as new boards and a railing, and will be friendly to bicycles and pedestrians and compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.
The effects on drivers using Langhorne Road throughout the project will be “hopefully minimal,” Owen said.
“There will be some one lane restrictions,” he said. “We will make sure we have message boards out, signs out.”
Jones said the project will alleviate a lack of parking on the weekends and allow those wanting to use the trail to park at Linkhorne Middle School.
“Parking is not ample,” she said. “We use the Greek Orthodox church. A lot of times, that’s not even enough.”
Jones said she hopes the lengthened trail will encourage residents to get outside, and Parks and Recreation will soon start working on a trail to connect Ivy Creek Park and Peaks View Park.
“There’s a lot of movement on the trails,” she said. “We want to encourage people to get out and be physically active.”
Olivia Johnson covers the city of Lynchburg for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5537.