Wanna ride? Long road for Northtown Bike Trail

Sometime in the future, the Downtown Mall and far-away places like the Hollymead Town Center, Forest Lakes, and the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport could be connected not by an often-congested roadway, but by a 14.1-mile bicycle trail running parallel to Route 29. That's the lofty goal of the Northtown Trail, the final plan for which was completed by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and recently endorsed by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization.

But don't start oiling the chain on your Schwinn just yet. The trail is to be built in stages, as big roadway projects like the Meadowcreek Parkway and McIntire Road Extended are completed. It also depends on finding a way to cross the South Fork of the Rivanna River, either by the construction of a bridge as part of the Berkmar Drive extension project, retro-fitting the Route 29 bridge, or a bridge where the Norfolk/Southern railroad currently crosses the Rivanna.

Closer to Downtown, to complete the route, a bridge connecting the eastern and western sides of McIntire Park will also have to built, a project that could cost as much as $400,000, according to city Parks and Rec officials, but that could be eligible for a VDOT transportation enhancement grant.

Obviously, it could be years before any of this gets done. But fans of people-powered transportation can dream, can't they?