Prince William County is getting a boardwalk. The Board of County Supervisors recently awarded a $3.8-million contract to J.D. James Inc. to build the new boardwalk over Neabsco Creek to connect Rippon Landing Community Park to the Julie A. Metz Wetlands Preserve.
The ¾ - mile long, 10-foot-wide, elevated boardwalk will become part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail that stretches between the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay. The trail connects, or will connect, from the town of Occoquan down through Belmont Bay, Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge, Veterans Memorial Park, Featherstone Wildlife Refuge, and on to Rippon Lodge and Rippon Landing, before crossing the boardwalk to the Metz wetlands. From Metz, the trail connects to Leesylvania State Park, Powell's Landing County Park and on to the U.S.1 sidewalk near Dumfries, said Prince William County Trails Manager Ryan Delaney. Eventually, the trail will connect to the public trail system at Potomac Shores, and run down through Dumfries to the Museum of the Marine Corps and Locust Shade Park.
The Board also awarded a $365,600 contract to Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects for architectural and engineering services during the boardwalk's construction, which will begin within 30 days of the notice to proceed. Notices to proceed are typically completed within 45 days of Board approval. Money to build the boardwalk will come from the county's Capital Improvement Project fund.
Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi said he thinks county residents will really enjoy the boardwalk and all it has to offer. "The boardwalk is part of our larger effort to showcase our natural outdoor recreation amenities along the Potomac River. The boardwalk will be a significant piece of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. It's going to be great for county residents who want to get out and experience some of the wonderful natural settings the county has to offer."
The design and development phase of the project started with environmental, archeological and geotechnical studies, which allowed for the completion of a preliminary design and determined permitting requirements. The design phase also included tidal wetland permitting from the Army Corps of Engineers, flood studies and a Conditional Letter of Map Revision submission from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with flood hazard permitting and rare, threatened and endangered species surveys. Rights-of-way for overlapping services, such as sidewalks, sewer lines, roadways and guardrails were coordinated with the Prince William County Service Authority and the Virginia Department of Transportation. County officials also identified easements and gained approval to cross them.
Seth Hendler-Voss, director of the Prince William Department of Parks and Recreation, said the boardwalk would add to existing county parks. "We are excited for construction to begin on the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk. Not only will this project provide opportunities to enjoy a beautiful, previously inaccessible natural area, it moves us one step closer to completion of the Prince William County section of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Beyond creating unique recreational opportunities for our residents, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is truly a remarkable alternative transportation and tourism asset for our community," Hendler-Voss said.
In 1983, Congress amended the National Trails System Act to designate a corridor for the historic scenic trail. While the trail is a unit of the National Park Service, trail routing, development and management is left primarily to state and local jurisdictions.