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Seaboard trail proves popular

Cyclists, runners and others that exercise in their spare time have been taking advantage of one of Suffolk’s growing amenities.

The Suffolk Seaboard Coastline Trail opened the first 2.3 miles of its paved pathway in October 2015, which was expanded by 1.1 miles in February. Users of the trail have averaged at approximately 100 during weekdays with clear weather, and double that many on weekends and holidays, according to assistant director for Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation Department and the project’s manager Helen Gabriel.

“The trail is getting lots of usage, which is phenomenal,” Gabriel said. “We’ve been very pleased with the outcomes of the trail.”

The 10-foot-wide path runs from the Driver community at the intersection of Nansemond Parkway and Kings Highway to Bromay Road. Two trailheads at Driver and near Pughsville Road feature amenities for trail users, such as the picnic table, portable toilet and bike repair station in Driver.

Suffolk resident Sally Goessel said she navigates the trail on her bike twice a week, and that it’s become her favorite trail because of the shade afforded by the trees that line the path.

“It’s a nice trail,” she said. “It’s very safe and people friendly.”

Cyclists are joined by families walking with the children, some of which are in strollers. Groups have formed from the neighborhoods near the trail that use it regularly, Gabriel said.

Portsmouth resident DeForest Mapp often strikes up conversations with his fellow trail users because of his preferred mode of transportation: a TerraTrike recumbent tricycle. The laid-back seating reduces back, neck and shoulder pain for Mapp as he rides the trail at least three times a week.

“My blood pressure is getting better, my legs are stronger, and my weight is going down,” Mapp said.

He commended the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department and local neighbors for keeping the trail clean as more and more have walked, run and biked it.

“It’s a great trail,” he said.  “The city of Suffolk and the people at Suffolk Parks and Recreation, I think they were the trailblazers for bikers in this area.”

Gabriel said her department is applying for another federal grant through Virginia Department of Transportation to design the next phase of extending the trail 1.3 miles from Driver to Nansemond River High School. Each mile of paved trail costs $650,000 to $1 million, depending on amenities.

When finished, the 11.3-mile trail is planned to be part of the South Hampton Roads Trail, a project that will allow non-motorists to travel 41 miles from downtown Suffolk to the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

The grant application is due by Nov. 1 with awarded funds made available in summer 2018, Gabriel said.