December 1, 2017
A Harvest Foundation grant to the County of Henry, totaling nearly $1.4 million, will extend the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail to Spruce Street, eventually allowing for the trail to extend for 10 miles one-way and 20 miles roundtrip.
Harvest grant funding will be used to link Spruce Street and Spruce Street Park to the existing trail system at the Smith River Sports Complex. The 2.5 mile-link from the existing trail to Spruce Street will be funded by the County of Henry along with Virginia Department of Transportation Alternatives Program funds.
“The clear change in recreation trends across the country is evidenced by this investment in the Dick & Willie trail network,” said Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation. “It brings us closer to the dream that began over a decade ago – 20 miles of trail network – to be enjoyed by all while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Users include young people, senior citizens, families, individuals and organized groups. Hiking, biking and walking are all enjoyed on the trail, and the connection to the Smith River Sports Complex will open many new opportunities. We are thankful to all partners for their commitment to this important project.”
Construction is expected to take approximately 12 months with a projected fall 2018 trail opening. The County of Henry will take responsibility of maintaining the trails following completion, and will work with partners to increase tourism opportunities, such as biking or running events that bring visitors into the area. More than 2,500 bikers, runners and walkers take advantage annually of the Dick and Willie’s smooth surfaces and trailheads complete with restroom facilities.
“The expansion of the Dick and Willie trail system has been an important piece in the ongoing planning for future infrastructure in our community and region,” said Henry County Administrator Tim Hall. “We work daily with economic development officials and community leaders to create new possibilities for development and enhancement of new and existing amenities. Not only will we be able to take advantage of increased tax revenues, but we also will benefit from providing additional options for healthier lifestyles.”
Expansion of the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail fits into The Harvest Foundation’s strategic plan of economic development under the advocacy goal, which supports collaborative partnerships that lead to increased leveraged investment in Martinsville-Henry County.
Rothrock said expanding the Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail also moves the community forward by adding recognizable and marketable assets that can potentially attract new businesses, and be an incentive for existing businesses considering expansion.
The Dick and Willie Passage Rail Trail is a partnership among the County of Henry, City of Martinsville, VDOT and The Harvest Foundation. The trail is part of the former Danville and Western Railroads. Stories about the history of the rail line are scattered about along the trail. Locations for trail heads in Martinsville include 1094 Virginia Avenue, 699 Liberty St., 220 Doyle St., and 815 Fisher St.
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