Friday, May 24, 2013

Finishing the Greenway Is Now a Reality

Liz Belcher: "Five years."
For those of us who believe that the Roanoke Valley Greenway is one of the most important economic development projects in many years, the word from the Department of Transportation that it is forking over $14 million--$12 million to finish a 21-mile stretch--to the project is something to cheer.

For all its problems, the greenway is probably as popular a government initiative as I can remember--and I've been here since 1971. Almost nobody doesn't like it and those who don't mostly dislike the fact that they can't have it for themselves, without the traffic it draws.

Your fave editor looking for Parkway pix.
The $14 million will allow an uninterrupted road bed from Green
Hill Park in Salem to the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Bedford County line in Roanoke County. That's 21 miles of mostly flat trail that's easy to bike, easy to walk--unless you get all that traffic and start running into each other.

This is not an especially pretty greenway, though parts of it are quite nice, but it is one that is heavily used. Lynchburg has a much prettier greenway meandering through the city and out over Percival's Island, but it lacks the sheer distance of Roanoke's trail.

Let me issue congratulations to my pal Liz Belcher, who runs the greenways and has raised most of the money to build them, and to the committee that wrote the grant request for the $14 million. I've probably asked Liz a dozen times when the greenway would be finished and her answer has always been "five years." That's a little closer to true now.

(Photo of me by Greg Vaughn for Roanoke City calendar; photo of Liz by me for FRONT magazine.)

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