Greenway Expansion Connects County to Salem

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Roanoke River Greenway supporters gather in Salem to break new ground.
Roanoke River Greenway supporters gather in Salem to break new ground.

by Beverly Amsler

The latest leg of the Roanoke River Greenway is under construction, after a ground breaking held at Riverside Park in Salem attended by state and local officials, volunteers, and representatives of various community groups.  When completed by the end of summer, the expansion will add 1 1/2  miles to the length of the trail in south Salem.  This stretch of the Greenway will link the Moyer Sports Complex almost to the western border of Roanoke County.

Salem Mayor Randy Foley says he’s been asked about when construction would start.  Now he can point to it and say something’s actually happening.

“It’s going to complete a leg that a lot of citizens have been asking about for awhile now and it’s going to make, obviously, the path of the Greenway in the city of Salem twice to three times as long as it currently is.  And it’s going to get us that much closer to really traversing the entire valley.  So that’s, I think, the importance of this project.”

He says the cost to the city is almost zero because the project is almost entirely paid for by federal grants or by in-kind donations.  The cost will come later, to maintain the portion of the Greenway, according to Foley.

Barbara Duerk with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club is happy for the expansion.  She says the Greenway system needs to be regional.

“We need to connect our Commonwealth.  I’m interested in connecting the Roanoke River Greenway, and upon its completion or even before, to the Huckleberry Trail.  Once we get to the Huckleberry Trail, we can connect to the New River Valley Trail and forward.  And going the other direction, in the Virginia Outdoor Plan they have the James River Heritage Trail.  So, if we can connect our Commonwealth, then Old Dominion will be a playground for all of America.”

So many people use the Greenway now; she doesn’t know all of their names anymore.

“They are old, young, athletic and older senior citizen with a little leg concerns, but I’m delighted that the Greenways have opened up Roanoke to be a healthy community.”

Mark McClain with the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission says this new West Riverside section will be the most scenic, where hikers and bikers will be able to see bald eagles and beavers, Twelve O’Clock Knob, talk to a horse, attend a church service, or watch a Little League game.