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Danville officials on Thursday officially marked the opening of the Riverwalk Trail extension over the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge. The extension was built to connect the north and south banks of the Riverwalk Trail.
To mark the opening, a ceremony was held on the south side of the bridge near the Main Street Plaza and JTI Fountain.
“In the 1990s, the city, along with federal and state partners, began to construct a river walk trail system,” Mayor John Gilstrap said at the ceremony. “This trail was created to encourage the community to begin embracing the river as an amenity for recreation and leisure.
“ …. Today, we celebrate an extension of this trail across the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge. …. On behalf of Danville City Council, I want to encourage the community to explore and enjoy the Dan River and join us in celebrating this new addition.”
Use of the bridge lane as a pedestrian and bicycle trail will permit trail users to go back and forth from the Main Street Plaza and trailhead on the south bank of the Dan River to the trail on the river’s north bank.
The trail extension was created by closing the right northbound lane of the bridge. Burleigh Construction, the contractor, used 180 cubic yards of concrete and more than 10,000 pounds of reinforced steel.
To protect pedestrians and bicyclists from traffic, the contractor installed more than 800 feet of handrail was installed on the west side of the trail and more than 800 feet of California Rail on the east side.
“We understand this to be one of the few projects in Virginia to use this type of rail,” Gilstrap said.
Construction began in June 2015 and was completed earlier this year at a cost of $1.7 million. The project was paid for with a combination of state, federal and local money.
The project is part of the city’s River District Development Project, which is in its sixth year and has generated more than $100 million in private investment, outpacing public seeding by three-fold.
The Riverwalk Trail continues to expand and is now 10 miles in total length, lining the Dan River from Angler’s Park on the east side of the city to Ballou Park on the west side of the city. Four public trailheads are in place that allow pedestrians to park their vehicles and connect to the trail. The trailheads are located at Angler’s Park, Dan Daniel Memorial Park, the Crossing at the Dan, and Main Street Plaza.
The Riverwalk and mountain bike trail systems in Danville host a number of trail events, including bike races, trail runs, charity walks, marathons, canine events, environmental education activities, and park special events.
To hold an event, contact the Parks and Recreation Department, which manages the trail system . Trail maps and trail event applications are available online at www.PlayDanvilleVA.com.