The view of the James River and downtown Lynchburg from the trail in Riveredge Park in Madison Heights.

Amherst County supervisors recently voted to pursue a grant application to secure federal money to assist in a projected $2.4 million project to extend the Riveredge Trail.

The board of supervisors voted 3-1 during its Sept. 3 meeting, with member David Pugh opposed and member Claudia Tucker absent, to seek the grant through the Virginia Department of Transportation. The project involves building a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail of about 6,200 feet beginning at Riveredge Park in Madison Heights and connecting to the Percival’s Island bridge, according to the county.

The project includes three sections, the first of which is 500 feet and includes a roughly 60-foot bridge. The second section is 3,700 feet of gravel or asphalt trail and the final 2,000 feet may need a ramp, according to a report before the supervisors. The VDOT grant, if approved, would cover $1.8 million and the county’s match portion would be $605,998.

County Administrator Dean Rodgers said he is hoping the county would not spend spend the full scale of money and can reduce costs.

“We happen to think that amount is outrageous and we believe we can find less expensive ways to extend a bridge across a ravine and connect to Percival’s Island,” Rodgers told supervisors of the estimated price tag engineers provided the county. “We were surprised at these estimates.”

Rodgers said the county has met with property owners for potentially acquiring land that could be used for extending the trail by the James River.

Pugh said he opposes the county agreeing to commit more than $600,000 towards the project.

“I can’t in good conscience commit the money to a trail down by the river,” Pugh said. “I mean, it’s pretty and everything. That’s an exorbitant amount of money.”

The county can decline the grant if it doesn’t like the strings attached to it, County Attorney Michael Lockaby advised board members.

“There’s a great many things we can do to reduce the costs,” Rodgers told supervisors, adding: “We’re just trying to obtain money from as many sources as we can.”

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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