VOF grant continues Greenway momentum in Virginia

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Momentum for multi-use trail development in Virginia continues to build after the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance received a grant from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) to close a key gap in the Great Dismal Swamp Trail, an East Coast Greenway segment that bridges Virginia and North Carolina.

In late 2021, the Alliance was awarded $20,000 from VOF to jumpstart the planning of a 1.5-mile connecting segment of the Great Dismal Swamp Trail. Eight-plus miles of the trail exist in Chesapeake, Virginia, with another 3 miles complete in North Carolina. Currently, the two segments are connected via a 5-mile roadway gap along U.S. Route 17. 

The completion of this Great Dismal Swamp Trail segment will add 1.5 miles to the Virginia side of the trail. When a 3.5-mile gap on the North Carolina side is closed, 18 miles of continuous greenway will cross the Virginia-North Carolina border and run adjacent to Great Dismal Swamp federal or state park lands.

This VOF grant will support a kickoff meeting with local and regional stakeholders and fund an informal feasibility study, which will advance planning so that the trail project can shift into the engineering and design stages. 

“We are grateful for the support of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation in closing an important gap in the East Coast Greenway,” said the Alliance’s Virginia & Washington, D.C. Coordinator Elliott Caldwell. “Partnerships like this are key in creating active and equitable transportation opportunities and completing our 3,000-mile Maine-to-Florida route.”

Caldwell joined the Alliance staff last month as the nonprofit’s first Virginia & Washington, D.C. Coordinator. Support from grants like this made it possible to add Caldwell’s role to the Greenway’s growing team. 

The grant was one of 28 awarded from VOF’s Preservation Trust Fund and Get Outdoors grant programs, totaling $1.3 million for projects that increase access to public open space in 25 counties and cities.

In addition to grants such as these, the East Coast Greenway is on the cusp of significant expansion in Virginia following the allocation of an unprecedented $233 million for multi-use trails in the Commonwealth’s recently proposed 2022-24 budget.

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