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Traffic
Despite a brand new portion of trail, there’s no room to walk on Catharpin Road

There are pedestrian connection problems between Haymarket and Gainesville.

“I’ve don’t know if you’ve been down Catharpin Road, between the bridge and Route 55, but there is nowhere to walk,” said Prince William County Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland.

No, I hadn’t ever walked down Catharpin Road, but I knew the bridge Candland referenced was recently built. So I decided to take a walk.

Catharpin Road is a two-lane thoroughfare linking the busy Heathcote Boulevard with Route 55, the John Marshall Highway. The bridge carries cars and pedestrians over Interstate 66.

As more homes pop up, and they are, more people are choosing to use Catharpin Road to walk to where they’re going, as referenced by the beaten down path on the northbound side of Catharpin Road.

I parked my car at a nearby Harris Teeter grocery store, and then walked along Catharpin headed to the bridge. Candland was correct when he said there is no room to walk along the street the closer to you get to the bridge.

I tried to say out of the road and walk in people’s front yards. However, that became impossible the closer I got to the bridge. Drivers had to dodge me, a pedestrian walking in the lane.

The new, two-lane bridge opened in August as part of $65 million projects to widen I-66 between Route 29 in Gainesville and Route 15 in Haymarket. As bridges go, it’s a nice one, complete with a 10-foot shared use trail on the northbound side of the bridge.

But the trail nearly starts and stops on the bridge, and there’s no connection to another shared-use path about 650 yards away near the Harris Teeter.

This problem is commonly referred to as “sidewalks to nowhere.” In some cases, developers, and in the case with the bridge the Virginia Department of Transportation, will have to build a sidewalk or trail and not connect it to anything, because it’s either not apart of the project, or funding ran out.

But there’s an effort underway to get new funding to complete the trail. Prince William County officials applied for funds, including state grants, to finish the trial.

The total estimated cost of the completed trail is $2.6 million.

“The proposed 10’ wide asphalt trail will be on the east side of Catharpin Road, from John Marshall Highway (Route 55) to the existing bridge on I-66. The trail will continue from the existing bridge on I-66, 660’ north to tie into an existing trail, for a total length of 2,250 [feet],’ Prince William County Regional Transportation Planner Paolo J. Belita penned to Potomac Local in an email.

The county has yet to hear if the money has been awarded, so, there’s no timeframe on when the trail will be completed.

“This trail will better connect employment centers to where people live,” added Candland.

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