A-NDPC Transportation specialists presented the latest design options (feasibility studies) for the Southern Tip Phase III trail to the Northampton Board of Supervisors on Monday.
Phase III involves routes from near Kiptopeke Elementary all the way into Cape Charles. When complete, the trail will be a 25 mile round trip, and will connect the ESVNWR, Sunset Beach Resort, Kiptopeke State Park, the towns of Cape Charles and Cheriton and their amenities and access to points north. Phase II of the trail has been contracted and is scheduled for construction in 2018. It will extend the trail from Cedar Grove Road to Capeville Road.
A-NPDC Staff have held discussions with A-NTDC, Bay Coast Railroad, VDOT, A&NEC, The Nature Conservancy, and Fish & Wildlife Services to determine all feasible trail options.
Two preferred options and several sub-options have been identified by the Stakeholder Bike/Hike Trail group:
1. The only permissible way to cross Route 13 is at a traffic signal or with a bridge or underpass built perpendicular to the road. Any crossing structure must comply with the American with Disabilities Act, making it necessary to acquire additional land for graded ramps or switchbacks
2. The trail must end in a public place (or a commercial place that grants a legal easement in perpetuity or a fee simple transfer) per requirements of the federal grant program.
3. If Phase III is deemed feasible, the next steps include decisions on ownership and maintenance and applications for funding. Phase I and II will be owned by the ESVNWR and will be maintained by Fish & Wildlife Services.
4. Bay Coast Railroad states that any trail with rail must be at least 40 feet away from the tracks and additional track crossings will not be permitted.
During discussion, the board was more in favor of a hiking/walking trail rather than a bike trail. Chairman Murray also favored a stop light near Kiptopeke Elementary rather than the proposed over or under pass structure at the Cape Center.
Current funding is through the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), which is meant to improve transportation facilities that provide access to FEDERAL lands with an emphasis on high-use recreation facilities and economic generators. FHWA Eastern Federal Lands (EFL) awarded FLAP funding to Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (ANPDC) for a feasibility study in 2015.
Next steps involve two public meetings and preparation of Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) and Environmental Report (ER). Preparation of the Feasibility Study is planned by April 30, 2018. More information can be found on the A-NPDC website.