RD86 - Virginia Capital Trail Sponsorship and Maintenance Report

Executive Summary:

The Department of Conservation and Recreation and Department of Transportation, in accordance with Item 361 of Chapter 854 of the 2019 Virginia Acts of Assembly and under the direction of the Secretary of Natural Resources and Secretary of Transportation, convened a stakeholder group to assess the feasibility and costs associated with transferring sponsorship and maintenance support responsibilities for the Virginia Capital Trail from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The stakeholder group consisted of representatives from the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, members of trail user groups with particular representation from the cycling community, and representatives of local governments from jurisdictions through which the trail traverses.

This report, consistent with the instructions of the General Assembly, focused on all aspects of trail maintenance and support to gain a holistic picture of feasibility and all costs associated with a transfer of sponsorship and maintenance support. This process involved a review of trail funding sources to identify any restrictions due to grants, as well as analysis of the existing management structure for the Virginia Capital Trail. In addition, members of the stakeholder group inventoried existing and proposed trail infrastructure, identified past and current operational and maintenance costs and practices across an array of stakeholders, and considered existing and current revenue sources associated with the Virginia Capital Trail.

This report provides a cost comparison, based on the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s management of the 57-mile linear New River Trail. This cost comparison, a review of maintenance responsibilities, and feedback from stakeholders indicate that the current management structure operates in a cost-effective manner that divides maintenance and operational responsibilities across Richmond City, Henrico County, Charles City County, James City County, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation. This report also identifies modest recommendations to improve the experience of Virginia Capital Trail users, including a targeted partnership between the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation to provide technical assistance in developing a master plan, specific funding for active transportation corridor maintenance needs, and a unified public safety approach for the Virginia Capital Trail.