In 1967, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors, realizing that growth was coming to change and transform the county, constructed a blueprint to guide this process in a manner that corresponded with the goals and aspirations of residents. Popular sentiment then, and now, is to maintain the “traditional agricultural, rural lifestyles, historic sites and areas, and unique open spaces” that makes the county such a special and beautiful place. This document, the Fauquier County Comprehensive Plan, is updated and revised every 10 years. One of the outgrowths of the Plan has been the Fauquier County Connections Plan which prioritizes the development of a trail network through the county. Realizing that such infrastructure needs to be built continuously in tandem with development and is necessary for a happy, healthy populace, the Connections Plan articulates 5 goals:
- GOAL 1: Develop a county-wide walkway, bikeway and greenway network among residential neighborhoods, Towns, workplaces, shopping centers, historic districts, schools, libraries, recreation centers, parks, etc.
- GOAL 2: Preserve and protect the environmental quality of Fauquier County’s rural, suburban and urban communities through the preservation of greenways and open space corridors.
- GOAL 3: Provide opportunities for a great many county residents who desire to walk, bicycle, ride horses and paddle boats for recreation and health.
- GOAL 4: Educate business and community leaders and the general public about the benefits of walking and bicycling, and provide safety messages for people who use the system.
- Goal 5: Provide adequate funding to develop and maintain a seamless network of facilities.
One of the most exciting aspects of involvement in the Fauquier Trails Coalition is helping plan, build and promote these new trails. While there is generally strong support for trail building in the community, there are often many obstacles to overcome. It takes persistent, dogged work and cooperation between private citizen groups like the FTC, The Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Greenway Advisory Committee, and HOAs as well as government entities like Parks and Recreation, the county commissioners and elected supervisors to make progress. Above all it takes concerned individuals willing to donate their time, their land, their expertise and their elbow grease to realize a vision of the community that will benefit many and outlast all of us. Fauquier County can be somewhat sluggish when it comes to approval of trails and public improvements with applications and review processes often taking years even for minor projects.
Here are some projects trying to get off the ground or in stages of development. Most of these are overseen by Mr. Miller of Parks and Rec who briefs the FTC at our monthly meetings. Sometimes we try to jump in with manpower, money, or new ideas to re-start a stalled process.
Warrenton Greenway Extension:
Everyone loves the Warrenton Greenway and everyone would like to see it extended. There are two phases pending. The first is to take the Greenway from its current termination point at the ravine behind Amerigas out to the Stafford Farm Property owned by the county. This will also bring it near the new Sport Complex area. The second phase will take the Greenway all the way to Green Road, a very pretty segment.
The county is currently working with designers to get a bid that fits in the budget. Costs are going up faster than resources.
Timber Fence Trail:
This trail is slated to connect the Silver Cup and Rady Park area with the WARF (see Warrenton Town Trail Map). It will travel behind Fauquier High School and also provide access for students to walk and bike to school. This project has been a unique partnership between the City and the County. There is broad agreement on the value of this trail and funding has been obtained: 20% from the community and 80% TAP grant. The Fauquier Trails Coalition is contributing $10,000.
Cedar Run Greenway:
The comprehensive development plan for Fauquier County includes a trail loop around Warrenton (see the map with proposed trails in the Warrenton Town Trail Map section). The FTC, in collaboration with Parks & Recreation has selected a key segment of the Warrenton loop connecting to the White’s Mill Trail section, going under the I29 bypass by way of the existing culvert, and traveling behind the Warrenton Lakes Subdivision to Blackwell Road as a priority to promote. Since much of this trail follows Cedar Run, the project is called the Cedar Run Greenway. The trail would then continue across Blackwell, near the Town Reservoir, and by Highland to I17.
The FTC solicited a proposal from Bohler Engineering in 2015 for an estimate of the cost of designing and obtaining the permits for this trail segment. The estimate for design came to $150K with a time course of 12-18 months. The cost of blacktop trail would be around $400K for the whole 2 mile extension. In other words, $650K for the whole she-bang from White’s Mill to Blackwell Road forming a continuous trail 3 miles long. This would become a 4 mile section once the pending construction on Woods of Warrenton is complete. The high cost is due to a portion of the trail traveling through wetlands and through a culvert.
For the initial $150K, Fauquier Trails coalition has put up$50K, the PATH foundation awarded $50K and the county agreed to chip the remaining $50K. Unfortunately, we have not been able to get a workable design approved with VDOT and grant funding is expiring. We continue to try to push this through the bureaucracy.
LFCC/Rt. 29 Interchange
VDOT is redesigning the LFCC/Rt. 29 Interchange. The original plan for this overpass was intended to include bike paths and pedestrian walkways in accordance with the County Comprehensive Plan and VDOT Destination Plans (and Connection plans) for Warrenton. Funds, as usual, are tight and we are urging VDOT to invest in the future health and quality of life of Fauquier by including a pedestrian/bike walkway in their plan for the Interchange. A little extra investment now will pay off dramatically over time for everyone who appreciates the beauty of our county.
A new trail segment is nearing readiness (in rough form) to open through Warrenton Chase from Duhollow Road to the wetlands behind Woods of Warrenton. We hope to start spreading rock dust here by fall in our next Trail Clean Up Day.