Bridging the gap: VMI seeks money to reconnect Chessie

By Maria Rachal

In the coming years, Chessie Trail users may be able to travel from Lexington to Buena Vista without ever having to leave the trail. Under the direction of the Chessie Trail Advisory Committee, VMI applied for an 80/20 grant from the Eastern Federal Land Access Program (EFLAP) in November to design a new South River Bridge, 13 years after the original bridge was washed out in Hurricane Isabel.

VMI expects to hear whether they received the grant by spring or summer of 2017, and the Friends of the Chessie Trail, Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, local municipality officials, and other project partners are still identifying potential sources of funding for the bridge’s construction, which they estimate will cost around $1.2 million.

Though it would be at least a few years before a possible bridge could be built, Col. Jay Williams, chairman of the Chessie Trail Advisory Committee and VMI Post-Engineer, said he’s optimistic that VMI will receive the EFLAP grant and the process will continue. If not, he said the advisory committee will likely re-submit an application for funding next year.