FRONT ROYAL – Nearly 30 years since the idea first floated about, the Royal Shenandoah Greenway is slated for a February completion date.

The last piece of the puzzle, the Criser Road Trail, will connect the Happy Creek and Eastham trails. Town Manager Joe Waltz said Winchester-based contractor Lantz Construction’s deadline is Feb. 16, but the project is likely to be finished in the next two weeks. Work began in October 2017 and was scheduled for a January completion, but built-in weather days extended the deadline.

The half-mile trail cost $352,000 and was paid for using the town’s fund balance, Town Finance Director B.J. Wilson said.

Criser Road Trail will consist of a concrete sidewalk, areas for walkers and bikers, benches, lighting, and a wooden guardrail fence, Waltz said. Future plans call for a bus stop shelter in front of the Royal Arms Apartments.

“We call it a trail, but it is truly a sidewalk,” Waltz said.

The finished Royal Shenandoah Greenway will be 4 1/2 miles and loop around downtown Front Royal, down a portion of Stonewall Jackson Highway and into Shenandoah National Park. It includes trails along Main Street, Luray Avenue, Stonewall Jackson Highway, and South Street. Points of interest along the trail include an arboretum, the Shenandoah River, a book box, dog parks, and soccer fields. It also passes three schools, the Front Royal Visitors Center, three parks, and the South Landing Boat Launch.

Although the greenway was conceptualized in 1989, official planning did not begin until 2009. At that time, Virginia Tech architects, the Community Design Assistance Center, the Front Royal Tree Stewards, and the town developed a master plan for the greenway.

The county finished its last portion of the Royal Shenandoah Greenway when phase three of Eastham Trail was completed in 2016, County General Services Director Brandy Rosser said.