LEXINGTON, Va., Dec. 10, 2020—A long-awaited project for the community is underway. A pedestrian bridge carrying the Virginia Military Institute-owned Chessie Nature Trail over the South River is expected to be replaced over the coming months. The original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and ever since then, trail users have had to detour onto Stuartsburg Road to continue on the trail, which is a 7.2-mile journey from Lexington to Buena Vista.
“The Chessie Nature Trial is a gem for both residents and visitors to our community,” said Dan Lyons, chair of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors. “This project is a classic example of regional cooperation involving our three localities, our regional Industrial Development
Authority (IDA), our Chessie Nature Trail Advisory Committee, and the Virginia Military Institute. We are very appreciative to all involved, and especially to VMI for its project leadership and funding contributions.
A majority of the funding for the $2.08 million project is coming from a grant from the Eastern Federal Lands Access Program and Virginia Military Institute. Additional funding came from the IDA, which is made up of community members from Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County.
Work will begin in the final weeks of December and continue through the winter and spring months. Completion is planned for early May, just in time for the busy trail and river season. Plans for a new bridge have now been in the works for several years, but the project had been held up due to adjustments to the project scope to align with the project budget and site constraints. F&B Contractors from Bedford, Virginia, were selected for this project.
During the months of construction, the Chessie Nature Trail will remain open to the public. A limited closure from Old Shepherd Road to the north boundary of trail parking along Stuartsburg Road at the South River Bridge will be offset with a detour. Informational signage will be in place to direct trail users. Those accessing the river in the area of the construction will need to find alternate locations for entry and exit during this time.