( 2 Votes )

Bike pathLocal bicycle and walking enthusiasts are in luck: the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) is soliciting their input into what bike and pedestrian paths to develop.

The TJPDC has set up an interactive map online in which participants can earmark suggested bike and pedestrian plans and include comments. Though most of the current suggestions focus on Charlottesville and Albemarle, the TJPDC wants to hear specifically from Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson and Greene residents.

“The goal for this plan is to engage the public,” said Zach Herman, TJPDC regional planner and project lead.

TJPDC is in the process of updating the 2004 Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan. As a part of this project, it wants to hear from local bicycle and walking fans as to what sort of projects they would like to see developed in their counties.

The updated plan will be integrated into the region’s long range framework to “better prepare and equip the region and its member governments to select and fund bike and pedestrian improvements,” according to TJPDC.

“For each county we hope to have a list of bike and pedestrian projects,” said Herman. “Those lists will be prioritized based on safety, connectivity, feasibility and cost. We’ll have a list of prioritized projects for each county.”

Herman hopes that interested Fluvanna residents will hop on their computers and send in their feedback during the months of September and October.

After the commission receives local feedback, it will turn to gathering data on the projects, prioritizing those projects, and then working them into the updated plan, Herman said. The updated plan may be ready around June 2018.

The Charlottesville and Albemarle projects may focus more on commuting, Herman said, but that approach isn’t as feasible in rural counties. “It’s more about developing recreational opportunities within Fluvanna,” he said.

“Off-road trails and walkways are some of the goals, as are minor improvements to existing roads, like scenic byways and bicycle routes,” Herman said. “There aren’t many specific projects for Fluvanna yet. This is where community input would be really helpful.”
As often happens, the money behind these projects is the tricky part.

“We have a lot of bike and pedestrian suggestions, but what we don’t have are ways for the projects to be funded,” said Herman.

TJPDC wants the paths to come to fruition, and in order for that to happen, various organizations will need to take ownership over different parts of the plan. “This is not meant to be a plan on the shelf,” Herman said. “We want these projects to have an owner. Hopefully for each project we’ll have some suggested grant sources – federal or state – and we’ll hopefully figure out people responsible for the projects.”

For example, paths that fall near schools may be eligible for Safe Routes to School grants. The Virginia Department of Transportation also has Transportation Alternatives Program grants that could help with trails, bicycle or pedestrian facilities, Herman said.

“Identifying these funding sources is a big part of the plan that has yet to happen, so we’re hoping to do a lot more research into the specifics of each project,” he said.

Fluvanna is already home to U.S. Bicycle Route 76, which stretches from Yorktown, Va., to Astoria, Ore., and covers about 4,250 miles.

Herman urged Fluvanna residents with suggestions to visit the interactive map or email him directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The interactive map can be found at http://tjpdc.org/transportation/jefferson-area-bike-and-pedestrian-plan/.