COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — As plans for the Fall Line Trail come into view, some residents are expressing their concerns about how it could impact their homes.

The Fall Line Trail’s proposed alignment was the result of the Ashland to Petersburg Trail Study completed in February 2020. The 43-mile multi-use trail spans seven localities including Hanover County, Henrico County, Chesterfield County, Richmond, Ashland, Petersburg and Colonial Heights. Each locality chose an alignment to include in the Fall Line Trail proposal.

In 2020, former Gov. Ralph Northam cut the ribbon on a trail in Ashland, which was later incorporated into the Fall Line Trail proposal.

But the plans for the massive project have people living near the proposed alignments concerned about privacy and safety.

Heather Slaughter Minetree said the preliminary design places the corridor just yards away from her backyard in Colonial Heights.

“We purposely moved here for the privacy and the seclusion and that’s not something I’m willing to give up,” she said.

Fall Line Trail proposal (Photo Courtesy of The Virginia Department of Transportation)

Minetree said she’s wary of what could happen.

“I don’t want to see people’s property get vandalized,” she said.

However, the Virginia Department of Transportation told 8News that it has not “seen any instances of increased crime on any VDOT maintained or constructed multi-use trail across the state.”

The agency said it is addressing residents’ concerns, but said the project isn’t a done deal yet, meaning changes could still be made.

“The project is in a preliminary stage of design,” VDOT said. “As the design progresses, there will be additional meetings with impacted property owners to discuss a more detailed design, listen to concerns and look more closely into possible mitigation efforts.”

VDOT held two public hearings and opened a survey this month to hear from residents about the plan.
Those on the other side of the issue said the benefits of the trail would outweigh the risks of any potential danger.

“It’s going to touch so many of us and give us an opportunity to be happier and healthier and really get to know our region and outdoor culture more,” said Brantley Tyndall, director of Bike Walk RVA/Sports Backers and president of Virginia Bicycling Federation.

He added the $266 million project received a lot of support from state and local governments since its inception.

“There’s plenty of opportunities for the local transportation officials and citizens to kind of modify how things will look,” he said.

However, Minetree disagrees. She started a petition to get city leaders to strike down or move the proposed area of the trail.

“If VDOT does decide that this is what they want to do and this is the route they want to go, we’ll probably list our house for sale,” she said.

If everything goes as planned, VDOT plans to start construction by next year.

Anyone with questions or comments about the trail can contact VDOT by submitting a request at my.vdot.virginia.gov or by calling 800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623).