County’s 1st phase of Ashland-to-Petersburg trail will be built in Lakeside
Henrico County is set to begin construction of its portion of the 43-mile Fall Line trail, following a ceremonial groundbreaking today in Lakeside for the trail’s 0.26-mile Park Street Phase.
“For the better part of two decades, our region has envisioned a north-south trail for bicyclists, walkers and others that would traverse and showcase our historic trolley lines,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank J. Thornton said. “It is wonderful that this dream – which reflects a strong partnership between local and state governments and private supporters – is finally becoming a reality. Much like the wildly successful Virginia Capital Trail, the Fall Line trail will promote recreation, healthy lifestyles, economic vitality and a high quality of life throughout our region.”
With gold-colored shovels, Thornton and other officials tossed ceremonial dirt that was piled outside a former Bank of America branch, at 4921 Lakeside Ave. The county had marked the parking lot and a nearby grassy area to show where the paved, multiuse trail will traverse as it winds north along Upham Brook through historic Spring Park, which dates to the 1890s and is Henrico’s oldest known park.
In addition to commemorating the start of trail construction, officials announced that Sports Backers will relocate its headquarters along the trail through a lease of the former Bank of America in Lakeside. The nonprofit, which has been based near The Diamond in Richmond, promotes active lifestyles through events and programs, and is a key partner in developing the Fall Line.
“We are thrilled to partner with Henrico County to have our new headquarters building at the intersection of Lakeside and the Fall Line,” said Jon Lugbill, executive director of Sports Backers. “Once renovated, the building offers ample space for Sports Backers staff along with a group fitness studio, meeting space and unmatched connectivity to the Fall Line, a signature regional project spearheaded by Sports Backers. Our new location will also be a hub to train the thousands of volunteers that are part of our regional active living movement.”
When complete, the Fall Line will extend between the town of Ashland and the city of Petersburg. So far, the only existing section is a 0.85-mile portion in Ashland that includes the Ashland Trolley Line Trail and a raised boardwalk that opened in 2021.
Henrico’s portion is planned in eight phases that will stretch 7.5 miles, from Bryan Park in the city of Richmond to the Chickahominy River, which serves as Henrico’s northern boundary with Hanover County. All told, Henrico’s phases are projected to be complete by fall 2026 and cost $52 million, with $9.2 million coming from federal and state grants, $36 million from regional funds of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA) and $6.8 million from local funds of the CVTA.
The Park Street Phase will be the Fall Line’s southernmost section in Henrico. It is expected to cost $1 million and will provide 1,400 feet of 12-foot-wide trail as well as a trailhead with public parking, restroom facilities and other amenities. The Board of Supervisors approved a construction contract for the Park Street Phase in September and the purchase of the Bank of America property in February.
From Bryan Park, the Park Street Phase will cross Lakeside Avenue to Park Street and into Spring Park. The 2.8-acre park features a granite “spring house” that is believed to be built in 1890s and has ties to Gabriel’s Rebellion, an 1800 thwarted uprising of enslaved people. In its heyday, the spring’s waters were purported to possess healing properties.
The Park Street Phase, scheduled for completion in February, also will include pedestrian safety improvements for its Lakeside Avenue crossing and improvements to Spring Park, with connections to existing walkways, new picnic tables and lighting enhancements.
Thornton recalled the public opening of Spring Park in 1997 as one of his early accomplishments after taking office as the Fairfield District supervisor in 1996. He will retire after 28 years when his seventh term ends Dec. 31.
“Today’s groundbreaking begins an auspicious new chapter as the Fall Line trail will provide our community and region with seemingly limitless economic and quality-of-life benefits,” Thornton said. “On a personal level, it’s equally gratifying that this wonderful, unifying trail also brings my service to Henrico County back to where it started, at historic Spring Park. Years from now, when cyclists and other users pass along Fall Line trail, I hope they will take a moment to pause, reflect on our shared history and find peace, refreshment and relief in this place.”