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INDEPENDENCE — Town of Independence and Grayson County officials gathered at the Crooked Road Kiosk off of Morton Drive in Independence last Thursday, to celebrate the completion of Phase II with the Grayson County Enhancement Trail Project. The milestone was celebrated with a brief ceremony, and a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon.
Phase II of the Grayson County Enhancement Trail project is part of a three-phased approach. This completed portion connects Nautilus Way Rd. and travels along Grayson Parkway to the entrance of the Industrial Park.
The Phase I portion, constructed in 2011, begins at the Historic 1908 Courthouse and ends at Nautilus Way Rd. The Town of Independence assisted with the Phase I project and has been maintaining this corridor along Main Street.
Phase III construction, beginning this year, will travel up Industrial Lane to the Grayson County Recreation Park.
Combined, all three phases will connect the trail from the Historic 1908 Courthouse to the recreation park.
“Doesn’t this place look great?” said Interim County Administrator Mitch Smith, as he stood before the crowd that had gathered for the ceremony. He took a moment to thank everyone who has been involved with the project; and commended the effort for its contributing improvement to the area. “It looks great coming in to Independence. And, people are already using it!”
Elaine Holeton of VDOT, the county’s former Planning and Community Development Director, took on this project while she was still working for the county. “I am honored and privileged to have been a part of this recreation trail project,” she said in a short address to the crowd. “As project manager here, I learned a lot of lessons: perseverance, faith, and a vision to accomplish.”
After sharing a list of thank-yous, she shared a quote in honor of Jonathan Sweet, former County Administrator, who was unable to attend the ceremony that afternoon. “I had to give this quote in his honor, because this sounds like something he would have done. So in the words of Napoleon Hill, who was born in Southwest Virginia in 1883 and became the advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt: ‘Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children to your soul; the blueprints of ultimate achievement.’ We are glad to see the completion of Phase II, and look forward to Phase III in the years to come.”
The Grayson County Enhancement Trail project began in 2000, when the Grayson County Board of Supervisors, under the guidance of board member Shirley Gordon, envisioned a trail project to connect the Historic 1908 Courthouse to the recreation park and Peach Bottom Falls. The project was listed as number three on the Grayson County Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Since 2000, the county has applied for and received five grants from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which total more than $1.6 million dollars for the project.
Last year, Holeton spoke of the additional benefits of the trail project. “The Phase II construction project has replaced deteriorated storm drain pipes, improved storm conveyance capacity with larger channels/pipes and installed new storm drain maintenance manholes. The project features an innovative stormwater conveyance system that allows water to flow under the sidewalk in four areas of the trail by using custom fabricated steel grates. The steel grates are currently in fabrication at McPeak Supply, LLC in Roanoke, Virginia and may take several weeks to finalize. The concrete sidewalk in those areas are custom poured to fit the steel grates. Those areas are waiting on the steel grates before the concrete can be poured and passerby’s can see those areas as they drive by the construction project. The steel grates are designed to be removed when needed to clean the stormwater gutter and they capture rainwater sheet flow from the sidewalk. This unique design provides a raised elevation of the sidewalk above the natural contour and provides a better pedestrian experience. Once complete, the concrete curb and gutter along Grayson Parkway will improve the entrance to both the Town of Independence and the Grayson County Industrial Park, a positive benefit for local economic development efforts.”
Funding for the project was provided by Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and Grayson County. The landscape architect was Hill Studio, P.C. of Roanoke; Survey and Engineer was Thompson and Litton of Radford and Bristol; and King General Contractors, Inc. of Bristol served as the general contractor for the Phase II project.