Don’t Look now, but there is a new trail system on the horizon!

Things are changing in Hampton Roads.  New road projects, new tunnels, new bridges and soon to be – new bike and walking trails on the horizon.  Behind the scenes, there has been some planning going on to help build a world class trail system in the Hampton Roads / Richmond area.   A connected trail system that will someday allow a cyclist or a walker to travel along a protected corridor from the oceanfront in Virginia Beach all the way to Jamestown, Fort Monroe or downtown Richmond

It started many years ago on the Southside with the proposed South Hampton Roads Trail System (SHRT) that stretched from Virginia Beach to Suffolk.  And after many years of dormancy, we are starting to see the fruit of that planning starting to play out with Suffolk’s Seaboard Coastline Trail and several land acquisitions in Portsmouth and Chesapeake.   Norfolk has been very active in cycling projects in Oceanview, Downtown and along the Elizabeth River Trail.   And now, there are serious conversations about getting land set aside  between Norfolk and Virginia Beach to complete the segregated pathway to the oceanfront.

In the late 1990’s, VDOT recognized the importance of active transportation alternatives and in 2015, we saw the completion of the 52 mile long Virginia Capital Trail (VCT), which runs from downtown Richmond all the way to the Jamestown Festival Park in James City County.  The response to this project was overwhelmingly positive and as a result, there was a request to extend the trail all the way to Fort Monroe and to Suffolk to connect to the South Hampton Roads Trail (SHRT).  A study was commission by VDOT and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) and finalized in 2017.  The result of this study – The Birthplace of America Trail (sometimes nicknamed BoAT).  The Birthplace of America Trail will be the centerpiece of the regional active transportation system, connecting the Virginia Capital Trail with the South Hampton Roads Trail.

Our non-profit organization (Tidewater Trails Alliance) was formed as result of the finalized study to implement findings of the VDOT / HRTPO study and to ensure the construction of the trail system.   We formed in July of 2018 and incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) in November of 2018.  In less than a year, the Tidewater Trails Alliance has built a core group of board members and started the process of getting the trail built.  Our board members and advisers represent localities from Surry County, Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, York County, James City County and Williamsburg.   Our mission – to build the Birthplace of America Trail, support the construction of the South Hampton Roads Trail and to partner with VCTF in the completion of this regional active transportation project.  One that will be world class.  One that will be visited by local, national and international visitors.  One that will enhance the health & quality of life for the residents of our region.

We need your help.  This trail system will not get built on wishes & planning alone.  We need the financial support of the citizens and corporate members of Hampton Roads to see this trail built.  This project will require hard work, money and determination to see it through.  Please consider hitting the Donate Button to support this mission.

In the weeks and months to come, tune back in to see how we are progressing.  How we are transforming the plan into reality.  There are already things happening that most would not be aware of.  We will expound on these milestones in the future blog posts, but for now, just know – there is a trail coming.  It is now on the horizon, but the focus is starting to sharpen as things begin to happen

Walk, Run, Ride or Roll – you will find a place on The Birthplace of America Trail.

Tom Howard – Chairman, Tidewater Trails Alliance.