Many of you know that I’ve been working towards a trail here in Albemarle that is similar to the Virginia Capital Trail.
We’re calling it the Three Notched Trail and it would be a 25 mile long, car-free path from Charlottesville to the Blue Ridge Tunnel.
There is currently funding available from VDOT for a feasibility study and we need to convince the Board of Supervisors to accept this offer. Please consider signing the petition to show your support.
Text of the petition is below.
The Rivanna Trails Foundation, the Crozet Trails Crew, and the Three Notched Trail Planning Group respectfully request that the Board of Supervisors direct County staff to proceed promptly with a VDOT-funded feasibility study of the proposed Three Notched Trail (TNT). This greenway and shared use path would answer County residents’ calls for safer and more extensive trails, make the area more appealing to future residents and tourists, and enhance our local economy. A study of the type that VDOT has offered to fund is the necessary next step to achieving these essential goals.
Safety & Health
The TNT would provide roughly 25 miles of safe, car-free travel for both recreational users and commuters. The incredible popularity of shorter paved trails such as those in Riverview Park and along the John Warner Parkway show how all county residents would benefit from this new trail. Pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists could avoid busy and dangerous roads such as U.S. Route 250. And the County could take an important step towards providing safer recreational and commuting opportunities for all residents. We anticipate that establishing safe routes separated from vehicle traffic will dramatically increase the number of cyclists and pedestrians using this corridor. In addition, a more sustainable transportation network includes safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and would help the County meet its climate impact goals.
The proposed Three Notched Trail is also part of a much more ambitious vision for a continuous “Mountains to the Sea” greenway that would cross the Commonwealth from the Shenandoah Valley to the Atlantic Coast. Such an epic trail would attract to Albemarle County both tourists and those seeking a more active lifestyle. Discussions are already underway about efforts to extend the Virginia Capital Trail westward towards Charlottesville, connecting to the Old Mills Trail in eastern Albemarle County. The Three Notched Trail would continue this greenway from Charlottesville to the enormously popular Blue Ridge Tunnel, thus connecting tourists visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park with businesses and other attractions in Albemarle County.
The popularity of and demand for trails has never been greater. Albemarle County’s own surveys have shown that residents prioritize funding trails and greenspaces, with particular support for greenways that connect points of interest and local communities. Localities across the nation and across the Commonwealth have embraced long-distance trails. The Virginia Capital Trail is a well-known and successful example, but others include the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, and the Virginia Creeper Trail. The Fall Line Trail (Ashland to Petersburg) and the Birthplace of America Trail (Norfolk to Richmond) are underway thanks to feasibility studies of the kind we ask you to support. Projects of this type draw active tourists who spend time and money in the area shopping, dining, and lodging. Moreover, a high-quality greenway trail in Albemarle also would encourage County residents to use local facilities rather than traveling to distant attractions and spending their money elsewhere.
VDOT’s Feasibility Study
Numerous planning documents and reports have identified the Three Notched Trail as an essential part of a bicycle and pedestrian network that safely connects all County neighborhoods and residents. In order to achieve these worthy goals, however, we must identify feasible projects, including “segments of independent utility.” The VDOT-funded feasibility study will do exactly that.
It is in the County’s best interest to take advantage of VDOT’s offer to fund this study. The study will provide essential information for further planning, such as potential routing, cost estimates, design details, and economic impact. A completed feasibility study would allow Albemarle County to have a “shovel ready” project poised to receive federal and state funding for trail construction.
Assistance with the VDOT Study
We are extremely grateful for the many efforts County staff have devoted to expanding our local trail network. However, the recent retirement of long-time trails planner, Dan Mahon, appears to have increased the workload of the remaining staff members. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to fill the vacancy created by this departure. Albemarle County residents have shown that they greatly value projects like the Three Notched Trail. We need to ensure that the County can create and manage this much-needed infrastructure and seize opportunities such as VDOT’s offer to fund a TNT feasibility study.
All authors of this letter commit to working closely with Albemarle County and VDOT on this project. We can share years of research concerning alternative routes and likely economic impact. Furthermore, we pledge our support in ensuring comprehensive community outreach through our wide connections and many partners.
This letter will be shared with Albemarle County residents and a corresponding petition will be available for residents to sign and show their support for the Three Notched Trail. We will share the results of this petition with the Board of Supervisors and County staff.
We deeply appreciate your careful consideration of our requests.
The Rivanna Trails Foundation, the Crozet Trails Crew, and the Three Notched Trail Planning Group