If there’s any truth to the saying “Good things come to those who wait,” get ready for something awesome! Construction is finally underway on the section of Roanoke River Greenway between the Bridge Street Trail Head and Aerial Way Drive. While it’s mostly just clearing brush at the moment, Roanoke Parks and Recreation couldn’t be happier.
The Department’s vision is to be the reason people choose Roanoke; this new extension does just that. A greenway system with this kind of connectivity puts Roanoke on the map and caters to its current and future residents. When thinking of economic development, livability is key; Roanoke’s parks, greenways, and public spaces are already huge selling points when wooing prospective employers and residents. When you can market nearly full connectivity among three municipalities without having to walk or ride on the street, that’s a big deal. Once complete, the greenway will also make the Roanoke Valley even more attractive to event organizers, bringing more money to the region (Ironman is an excellent example of this and takes place on this very greenway).
Of course, we can’t stress the importance of accessibility and equity enough. This project will make alternative transportation safer and easier in the Roanoke Valley. For those who either cannot drive or who prefer to bike or walk their way to work and play, this provides over 12 miles of off-road contiguous greenway—the most in the Valley. Young residents can access parks and neighborhoods without navigating busy streets; people without cars can bike or walk from Salem to Roanoke County without having to share the road with cars. This greenway touches nearly every walk of life in the Valley.
“It is exciting to see continued progress on connectivity with greenways in the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley,” Renee Powers, Trails and Greenway Coordinator, said. “This section continues to expand recreational opportunities for citizens in the City and the Valley and makes progress on how great of a place Roanoke is to live, work and play.”
Allegheny Construction won the project and estimates that work will take about 18 months. Barring any major setbacks, the Department hopes to have the section open by August 2023. The total project cost is $6.1 million with funds coming from VDOT and the City. The total length is right at a mile and will include a 270-foot bridge across the river–the longest in the greenway network. The trail will run under Bridge Street and will connect the section of trail that currently terminates at that parking lot. The other end will connect with the bridge abutment at the Norfolk Southern materials yard off of Aerial Way Drive.
While we know this is exciting, we do ask that folks stay clear of any construction areas and mind any closures. At times, the Bridge Street Trail Head will be closed while work takes place. Please do not park there if it’s closed (your vehicle could be locked in or towed). For the better part of seven years, greenway users have been asking about this particular section of greenway. The Department is thrilled to finally be able to give some answers and see this dream come to fruition.