High Bridge Trail To Get More Miles

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, September 2, 2010

FARMVILLE – Robert Frost had miles to go before he slept and so does High Bridge Trail State Park.

Six more miles will open this Saturday, following on the heels of four miles opened at the east end of High Bridge earlier this summer.

All 10 miles, which begin where the bridge ends and wend their way toward Burkeville, were constructed by the Town of Farmville.

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Parking for this portion of the trail is available off Rice's Depot Road, with additional parking planned.

The state park now has 30 miles of trail open, 20 of them from the west end of the bridge meandering toward Pamplin.

Or, of course, vice versa.

Only the bridge, itself, remains as the lone essential gap.

And bids for the construction necessary to make the historic span safe for trail enthusiasts will go out this fall.

Bids were to be sought starting on August 29 but one last state government hurdle presented itself and is being cleared, with the bridge expected to open, and thus the entire trail, late next year.

In an interview with The Herald, and during a presentation to Farmville's Town Council, High Bridge Trail State Park Superintendent Eric Hougland, was effusive in his praise for Town workers.

“We appreciate the partnership we were able to enter into with the Town of Farmville,” Hougland told the newspaper. “It enabled us to complete the work in a more time-efficient and cost-effective manner.”

During his presentation to Town Council, Hougland singled out the four Town employees with whom he worked “most often every day, getting the job done.”

They are Robin Atkins, Ernest Hurt, Les Trent and Jerry Hatfield.

And he praised the enthusiastic cooperation of Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates. “With Gerry's support, and you all's approval, and the hard work from the Town forces, we're able to complete (the 10 miles),” he told council members.

And of High Bridge, itself?

“Our design has gone through the approval process. We have the permits secured that we need,” he told The Herald. “We're down to getting the go-ahead to advertise for bids…We're really, really close to that…”

Bids should be awarded, and construction on the bridge should begin, this fall.

Hougland told Town Council that “work has been going on on High Bridge, although it's not able to be seen physically. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes, getting approvals for our designs and permits.”

The construction on the bridge, he said, “will take about a year, so we're looking at late 2011 before the bridge is going to be ready to open.”

Less than a mile of bridge work to go before construction finally sleeps the slumber of a big job done well.

The evening repose of Hougland and park boosters, meanwhile, is filled with dreams of just over 30 continuous miles of trail open to the footsteps, bike tires and horseshoes of those counting down the months, weeks and days in their own dreams, too.

An opening in late 2011 would see the sun rise over rimes of frost beside the trail.