County to cut ribbon on trail’s last phase

Traffic flows southbound on Stonewall Jackson Highway just south of Criser Road in Front Royal on a recent evening. This sidewalk that stretches from Skyline High School to Criser Road finishes the third phase of the Eastham Park Trail project for Warren County. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Local officials plan to celebrate the completion of the long-awaited Eastham Park Trail today.

Warren County intends to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the third and final phase of the project at 4:30 p.m. at Skyline High School.

The years-long project consists of a trail from Eastham Park at the end of Luray Avenue along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River to the railroad tracks. The trail continues east near Skyline High School to Skyline Vista Drive. The third phase extends the trail from Skyline Vista Drive along Stonewall Jackson Highway to the intersection with East Criser Road. The route connects to the Shenandoah National Park Trail and to the Criser Road Trail constructed by Front Royal.

Warren County used grant money to cover most of the project’s cost, according to information from Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Brandy Rosser. The county received $118,000 in grants for the first phase. The funding agency required a minimum local match of $29,500, Rosser explained Thursday. The county received $206,000 in grants for the second phase, for which the funding agency required a match of $52,162. The county pulled money earmarked for the third phase to cover cost overruns in Phase II. The county received two grants – $124,000 and $166,000, which required minimum local matches of $31,000 and $42,336 for each award respectively.

The county spent more than the required match for each phase not including the improvements to Luray Avenue, Rosser said. The total amount spent by the county on the project was not available Thursday. The county also employed Parks and Recreation Department maintenance crews for clearing, grubbing and other tasks to satisfy a portion of the local match on the first and second phases.

The county also received $250,000 through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Recreational Access Program for improvements to Luray Avenue from Criser Road to the Eastham Park entrance, Rosser said. The program did not require a local match. The county didn’t use maintenance staff on the third phase since the section lay in the VDOT right-of-way and the work consisted almost entirely of sidewalk installation, Rosser explained.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com