New trail leg nearing completion

Published 10:23 pm Friday, November 18, 2016

A new portion of the Suffolk Seaboard Trail is nearing completion.

The new leg, which extends from Shoulders Hill Road to Town Point Road and touches the Chesapeake city line, is expected to be complete by Nov. 23, according to Helen Gabriel, assistant director of Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

The 10-foot wide, paved trail will be 1.1 miles in length, Gabriel said, making a 3.4-mile trail when added to the section already completed.

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Eventually, the Suffolk Seaboard Trail will total 11.3 miles. Once complete, it will extend from the train station in downtown Suffolk to the Chesapeake city line, Gabriel said.

In addition, the trail will be a part of the larger South Hampton Roads Trail. The proposed 40-plus-mile trail will cover sections of Suffolk, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

The project is primarily funded by federal and state grants, as well as local funds for match requirements, Gabriel said.

Each city gives progress updates during quarterly committee meetings for the regional trail.

“The South Hampton Roads Trail can’t exist until each municipality completes its trail,” Gabriel said.

However, the problem that surfaces is the fact the cities are competing for the same grants to help fund their respective trail projects. Gabriel noted the grants are typically rationed out based on “progress and land acquisition.”

“Our project does have strong momentum,” she said.

In October of last year, the trail between Driver and Shoulders Hill Road — which is 2.3 miles long — was completed.

The first leg has brought forth an “overwhelming response” from the community, Gabriel said. The trail was recently used for the Driver Days 5K.

“There is a beautiful canopy and gorgeous floral arrangements,” Gabriel said.

There are several trail sections remaining to be completed: between Moore Avenue and Suburban Drive; Suburban Drive and Nansemond Parkway; and Nansemond Parkway and Driver. These remaining sections will total more than 8 miles, and the cost is estimated at $11 million, Gabriel said.

Gabriel affirmed the trails are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.