City awards contract for design of trail along Monticello

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Monticello Avenue in Williamsburg will soon offer better pedestrian access between Williamsburg's midtown district and James City County's New Town district. (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)
Monticello Avenue in Williamsburg will soon offer better pedestrian and biking access between Williamsburg’s midtown district and James City County’s New Town district. (Steve Roberts, Jr./WYDaily)

It’s official. The design process has begun for a new trail in Williamsburg.

City Council awarded a bid to civil engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Thursday for the design of a 3/4-mile walking and biking trail along Monticello Avenue.

The proposed trail will run from Ironbound Road to the William and Mary School of Education. In effect, the trail will connect James City County’s New Town to the intersection of Richmond Road and Monticello Avenue — making a new pedestrian artery through Williamsburg.

“Williamsburg is bicycle friendly, and that’s been a continual goal of city council,” City Manager Marvin Collins III said. 

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin has provided services on similar projects including the Virginia Capital Trail and the Mariner’s Museum Trail, according to a council memo, and the project manager who worked on the York Street improvement project.

Mayor Paul Freiling said the multiuse trail is one of the most important pedestrian connections the city can make.

Currently, pedestrians are relegated to walking along the shoulder or grass alongside the two-lane road, which is not lighted.

“It’s dark and it’s hard to see them sometimes — and it’s a 45 mph road,” Aaron Small, the city’s engineer, said of those who walk along the thoroughfare.  “There’s a lot of safety benefits seen by putting in this multi-use trail…I drive it every day and it’s precarious.”

Virginia Capital Trail Williamsburg
Documents presented to the City Council about the Virginia Capital Trail showed the three areas of concern for the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg.

The Monticello trail could become part of a larger regional use trail connecting Richmond to Fort Monroe in Hampton, according to documents presented to the city.

Williamsburg was awarded a $1 million grant for the trail’s construction in the summer of 2016. The grant was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board as part of the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), a Federal Highway Administration fund geared toward improving pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Councilor Doug Pons said he was happy the city would only end up paying for $125,000 of the projected $1.25 million cost.

The grant will fund 80 percent of the project, while the city and College of William and Mary will cover the remaining 20 percent, according to the City.

WYDaily archives were used in this article.