Biscuit Run Greenway

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

About the Proposed Greenway Project

The proposed Biscuit Run Greenway project is a strategically important initiative for Albemarle County. This long-planned bicycle and pedestrian greenway trail in the Southern Development Area will create major recreational value for our community and our visitors. It will also help generate other important public benefits: enhanced public health and personal wellness, expanded options for sustainable multi-modal transportation, increased access to economic opportunity, and equitable access to public facilities for underserved communities.

The proposed Biscuit Run Greenway trail would extend between the 5th Street Station shopping center (at the north end) to the planned Hickory Street Trailhead and Entrance at the future Biscuit Run Park (at the south end). The planned route generally follows and re-uses the existing historic roadbed along the east side of Biscuit Run, and would connect with the planned multi-use trail network in future Biscuit Run Park. The planned greenway trail would also connect with the existing Rivanna Trail after VDOT completes the fully funded “5th Street Station Trails Hub” project.

This proposed public-access greenway trail would be for bicycle and pedestrian use only. It would be 8’ wide in most places but would narrow to 6’ for short sections to minimize environmental impacts where appropriate. The trail would have a compacted stone dust surface (with an option for a paved surface in certain locations that are more vulnerable to flooding or erosion).

Proposed trail improvements include new footbridges across streams and tributaries, improved grading and drainage along the entire trail corridor, benches in appropriate locations, trail signage, greenway boundary signage, access management features where necessary to help keep trail users on the greenway trail and off private property, and maintenance access points.

The Proposed Biscuit Run Greenway aligns with the County's Vision, Values, Existing Plans, and Community Needs.

Investing in infrastructure and amenities that foster connection, opportunity, and well-being is key to a vibrant community. By encouraging a diverse range of economic and recreational opportunities accessible to all community members, we can create a more inclusive environment.

The greenway aims to enhance accessibility by creating easy access to and between a major retail center and the County's largest park, reducing reliance on car travel. This would reduce vehicle trips, reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with those miles traveled.

Our community has been planning for this.

In 1999, this project was identified as an important part of a larger trail network in The Greenways Plan for Albemarle County. Later, the 2015 Comprehensive Plan included the trail on the Greenway Plan for the Development Area. The trail was also included in the 2015 Southern and Western Urban Neighborhoods Master Plan. We also see the trail identified in a regional (the 2019 Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan) and state plan (the 2018 Virginia Outdoors Plan). Our community's highest priority needs, as identified in the 2018 Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, are walking, hiking, and biking trails.

For more information, please review the detailed overview of existing plans and policies that this proposed project would advance and support.

Our vision for the future greenway focuses on connectivity, responsibility, safety, stewardship, and a great experience for all trail users.

Connectivity

  • Enhanced outdoor recreation access: provide a safe, continuous bike/ped connection between 1,190-acre Biscuit Run Park, nearby neighborhoods, and the Rivanna Trail (and other nearby trailheads and parks)
  • Expanded multi-modal access: provide a purpose-built, well-maintained bike/ped connection between established and growing neighborhoods, busy employment and retail centers, and other destinations throughout the 5th & Avon corridors in the Southern Development Area

County Maintenance and Responsibility

  • Albemarle County would perform routine trail monitoring and trail maintenance, including stormwater management to minimize mud, puddles, and erosion as well as storm response, to clear debris and downfallen trees
  • Albemarle County would assume legal liability for trail-related uses within the greenway easement area (and HOAs would be indemnified and held harmless)
  • Albemarle County would be responsible for the cost of legal services required as the result of a legal claim for trail-related issues within the greenway easement area

County Initiatives for Vehicle Management

  • Install physical barriers at strategic locations along the trail corridor to prevent misuse by vehicles
  • Provide and promote public parking at appropriate off-site locations, including 5th Street Station near Wegmans, 5th Street near Starbucks, and Biscuit Run Park trailheads at Route 20 (in 2024) and Hickory Street (in 2026)
  • Proactively deter parking near Southern Parkway by installing signage in strategic locations and through sustained coordination among County Departments, Albemarle County Police Department, and VDOT

Commitment to Environmental Stewardship

  • The proposed trail location, design, and dimensions have been moderated to balance connectivity and conservation
  • The proposed trail would reuse and repurpose the existing historic roadbed, which will minimize land disturbance and destruction of plant communities or habitat
  • The proposed trail would be 8’ wide in most segments but would narrow down to 6’ where necessary to avoid or minimize physical impacts on the landscape
  • The project would be carefully designed, constructed, and managed with site-specific sensitivity for notable natural resources – best practices would be utilized to maximize sustainability and stewardship

Improved Trail Quality and Experience

  • Uniform trail surface (compacted stone dust surface) and average width
  • New footbridges that provide safer and more inclusive access
  • Extensive signage to communicate entrances, boundaries, regulations, and wayfinding

Current Conditions

The greenway trail project would repurpose and upgrade the old roadbed that runs through the Biscuit Run stream valley. The roadbed passes through private properties, including those belonging to Foxcroft HOA and Mill Creek HOA, and features numerous spur trails that intersect with the adjacent neighborhoods.

Although this old roadbed has a history of being used by members of the community to access undeveloped open space lands that will become Biscuit Run Park, this roadbed is currently private property. Therefore, there is currently no authorized public access and no public maintenance, management, or patrol.

Some locations in the southern end of the corridor have become makeshift junkyards, harboring abandoned vehicles and other debris. Other locations contain unique examples of native plant communities and rare wildlife species. Overall, County management and maintenance of this proposed greenway corridor would result in enhanced recreation access and experiences, improved multi-modal connectivity, and increased environmental stewardship.


Proposed Greenway Project Steps to Completion

Step #1: Easements

This project requires voluntary legal agreements between Albemarle County and property owners. Such agreements would take the form of a "greenway easement" which involves two components:

  1. a greenway easement plat, showing the location and boundaries of easement areas
  2. a deed of easement containing legally binding terms that establish greenway roles and responsibilities, rights, restrictions, and other important details.

Albemarle County will need to acquire separate greenway easements from separate property owners, Mill Creek HOA and Foxcroft HOA. Because the greenway involves commonly owned open space lands, these greenway easements require each HOA to conduct a vote per their bylaws.

Step #2: Initial Improvements

Step #3: Full Design & Buildout


Funding

This project would be funded by Albemarle County. Funding would include design, permitting, construction, and ongoing maintenance.

About the Proposed Greenway Project

The proposed Biscuit Run Greenway project is a strategically important initiative for Albemarle County. This long-planned bicycle and pedestrian greenway trail in the Southern Development Area will create major recreational value for our community and our visitors. It will also help generate other important public benefits: enhanced public health and personal wellness, expanded options for sustainable multi-modal transportation, increased access to economic opportunity, and equitable access to public facilities for underserved communities.

The proposed Biscuit Run Greenway trail would extend between the 5th Street Station shopping center (at the north end) to the planned Hickory Street Trailhead and Entrance at the future Biscuit Run Park (at the south end). The planned route generally follows and re-uses the existing historic roadbed along the east side of Biscuit Run, and would connect with the planned multi-use trail network in future Biscuit Run Park. The planned greenway trail would also connect with the existing Rivanna Trail after VDOT completes the fully funded “5th Street Station Trails Hub” project.

This proposed public-access greenway trail would be for bicycle and pedestrian use only. It would be 8’ wide in most places but would narrow to 6’ for short sections to minimize environmental impacts where appropriate. The trail would have a compacted stone dust surface (with an option for a paved surface in certain locations that are more vulnerable to flooding or erosion).

Proposed trail improvements include new footbridges across streams and tributaries, improved grading and drainage along the entire trail corridor, benches in appropriate locations, trail signage, greenway boundary signage, access management features where necessary to help keep trail users on the greenway trail and off private property, and maintenance access points.

The Proposed Biscuit Run Greenway aligns with the County's Vision, Values, Existing Plans, and Community Needs.

Investing in infrastructure and amenities that foster connection, opportunity, and well-being is key to a vibrant community. By encouraging a diverse range of economic and recreational opportunities accessible to all community members, we can create a more inclusive environment.

The greenway aims to enhance accessibility by creating easy access to and between a major retail center and the County's largest park, reducing reliance on car travel. This would reduce vehicle trips, reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with those miles traveled.

Our community has been planning for this.

In 1999, this project was identified as an important part of a larger trail network in The Greenways Plan for Albemarle County. Later, the 2015 Comprehensive Plan included the trail on the Greenway Plan for the Development Area. The trail was also included in the 2015 Southern and Western Urban Neighborhoods Master Plan. We also see the trail identified in a regional (the 2019 Jefferson Area Bike and Pedestrian Plan) and state plan (the 2018 Virginia Outdoors Plan). Our community's highest priority needs, as identified in the 2018 Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment, are walking, hiking, and biking trails.

For more information, please review the detailed overview of existing plans and policies that this proposed project would advance and support.

Our vision for the future greenway focuses on connectivity, responsibility, safety, stewardship, and a great experience for all trail users.

Connectivity

  • Enhanced outdoor recreation access: provide a safe, continuous bike/ped connection between 1,190-acre Biscuit Run Park, nearby neighborhoods, and the Rivanna Trail (and other nearby trailheads and parks)
  • Expanded multi-modal access: provide a purpose-built, well-maintained bike/ped connection between established and growing neighborhoods, busy employment and retail centers, and other destinations throughout the 5th & Avon corridors in the Southern Development Area

County Maintenance and Responsibility

  • Albemarle County would perform routine trail monitoring and trail maintenance, including stormwater management to minimize mud, puddles, and erosion as well as storm response, to clear debris and downfallen trees
  • Albemarle County would assume legal liability for trail-related uses within the greenway easement area (and HOAs would be indemnified and held harmless)
  • Albemarle County would be responsible for the cost of legal services required as the result of a legal claim for trail-related issues within the greenway easement area

County Initiatives for Vehicle Management

  • Install physical barriers at strategic locations along the trail corridor to prevent misuse by vehicles
  • Provide and promote public parking at appropriate off-site locations, including 5th Street Station near Wegmans, 5th Street near Starbucks, and Biscuit Run Park trailheads at Route 20 (in 2024) and Hickory Street (in 2026)
  • Proactively deter parking near Southern Parkway by installing signage in strategic locations and through sustained coordination among County Departments, Albemarle County Police Department, and VDOT

Commitment to Environmental Stewardship

  • The proposed trail location, design, and dimensions have been moderated to balance connectivity and conservation
  • The proposed trail would reuse and repurpose the existing historic roadbed, which will minimize land disturbance and destruction of plant communities or habitat
  • The proposed trail would be 8’ wide in most segments but would narrow down to 6’ where necessary to avoid or minimize physical impacts on the landscape
  • The project would be carefully designed, constructed, and managed with site-specific sensitivity for notable natural resources – best practices would be utilized to maximize sustainability and stewardship

Improved Trail Quality and Experience

  • Uniform trail surface (compacted stone dust surface) and average width
  • New footbridges that provide safer and more inclusive access
  • Extensive signage to communicate entrances, boundaries, regulations, and wayfinding

Current Conditions

The greenway trail project would repurpose and upgrade the old roadbed that runs through the Biscuit Run stream valley. The roadbed passes through private properties, including those belonging to Foxcroft HOA and Mill Creek HOA, and features numerous spur trails that intersect with the adjacent neighborhoods.

Although this old roadbed has a history of being used by members of the community to access undeveloped open space lands that will become Biscuit Run Park, this roadbed is currently private property. Therefore, there is currently no authorized public access and no public maintenance, management, or patrol.

Some locations in the southern end of the corridor have become makeshift junkyards, harboring abandoned vehicles and other debris. Other locations contain unique examples of native plant communities and rare wildlife species. Overall, County management and maintenance of this proposed greenway corridor would result in enhanced recreation access and experiences, improved multi-modal connectivity, and increased environmental stewardship.


Proposed Greenway Project Steps to Completion

Step #1: Easements

This project requires voluntary legal agreements between Albemarle County and property owners. Such agreements would take the form of a "greenway easement" which involves two components:

  1. a greenway easement plat, showing the location and boundaries of easement areas
  2. a deed of easement containing legally binding terms that establish greenway roles and responsibilities, rights, restrictions, and other important details.

Albemarle County will need to acquire separate greenway easements from separate property owners, Mill Creek HOA and Foxcroft HOA. Because the greenway involves commonly owned open space lands, these greenway easements require each HOA to conduct a vote per their bylaws.

Step #2: Initial Improvements

Step #3: Full Design & Buildout


Funding

This project would be funded by Albemarle County. Funding would include design, permitting, construction, and ongoing maintenance.

Ask a Question

Do you have a question about the Biscuit Run Greenway? Please share it here. We'll post responses to questions here. For registered participants, we'll also email you with the response. 

loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Dear Albemarle Country, A large colony of Pink Lady Slippers is growing near where you are planning, on your map, to create a compacted stone dust existing trail improvement with added park amenities. Location: The Biscuit Run Greenway (C): "Alternate Route", Herndon Property, (TMP # 90-37) southern end. 1. Are you aware of this rare Native Wildflower orchid colony location? The native orchid disappears for part of each year. 2. Will you please contact me about your plan to identify the location of this Native Orchid colony, relative to the proposed roadbed and amenity locations? 3. Is there a plan in place to adjust the roadbed improvement and amenity locations if it were to endanger the native Pink Lady Slipper colony? Thank you for your attention to my concern! Sincerely, Adele Wood

    Adele Wood asked about 2 months ago

    Overall, the proposed Biscuit Run Greenway project would be planned and designed with careful considerations towards environmental planning, design, and sustainable land management. If given the opportunity, Albemarle County will plan and design a trail connection past Avon Swamp that gives equal weight to environmental stewardship and recreation access.

    The project team includes Parks & Recreation staff with degrees in landscape architecture, environmental planning, and biology, and with professional experience in sustainable planning, sustainable design, natural resource management, and restoration ecology. The project team also includes coordination with resource management professionals in other County Departments, as well as consultants who would provide further expertise that ensures this portion of the project does not happen at the expense of environmental integrity and health.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Will botanists/wildlife biologists be consulted about the section going through Avon Swamp? That is a very sensitive habitat containing an S1 (critically imperiled) species.

    Lonnie Murray asked 3 months ago

    Overall, the proposed Biscuit Run Greenway project would be planned and designed with careful considerations towards environmental planning, design, and sustainable land management. If given the opportunity, Albemarle County will plan and design a trail connection past Avon Swamp that gives equal weight to environmental stewardship and recreation access.

    The project team includes Parks & Recreation staff with degrees in landscape architecture, environmental planning, and biology, and with professional experience in sustainable planning, sustainable design, natural resource management, and restoration ecology. The project team also includes coordination with resource management professionals in other County Departments, as well as consultants who would provide further expertise that ensures this portion of the project does not happen at the expense of environmental integrity and health.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    What is the benefit of the greenway to the neighborhoods adjacent to it? Specifically, the Mill Creek and Foxcroft neighborhoods who are already using the private trails.

    2 months ago

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: One of the benefits would be a higher specification trail, which would involve consistent maintenance and management of the trail itself and any other issues that might come up. We (the County) would be performing routine maintenance as well as having more convenient access to respond to other issues that may arise down there. 

    The County operating a public access Greenway, including the County assuming liability, is an important factorUnder the proposed project that we're describing, Albemarle County would assume responsibility, and liability, for the greenway. Foxcroft and Mill Creek would be relieved of that responsibility. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    In the County comprehensive plan, there's a future Southern Pkwy connector, which would go across the creek and up through Southwood. Is it possible, through this easement negotiation with HOAs, to close down that right of way to what's needed for this project and abandon the Southern Parkway connector?

    2 months ago

    [Michael Barnes, Planning Director – Community Development]: For years, the Southern Parkway was the idea of how to create the connection between Avon to 5th Street. Certainly, that need was greatly alleviated with the creation of the Wegmans connection. So, I think it reduces the need for that. Additionally, there are a lot of challenges to trying to go over to the other sideAs far as the possibility of the Southern Parkway as a bargaining chip, don't think that has come up as something that we've been talking aboutMaybe it's something we could consider. 

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: We understand that since the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan in 2015, the road network has changed and grown with the 5th Street Station Parkway being built across Moores Creek, which creates an East-West connection that helps alleviate the pressure in the Southern Development Area. Perhaps not perfectly, but it does expand the road network East-West. So the need or the utility of using the Southern Parkway for a road connection is lower than it was when the time that plan was adopted. I don't know that the County is in a position to say we would never build a road there. But in working with planning staff and Community Development in thinking about greenways, planning the highest and best use of that right of way is a bicycle and pedestrian connection that leads to the county's largest park – not a road project that would be probably $100 million or more and would require so much right of way acquisition on the west side of Biscuit Run. 

    I think I'm on solid ground to say there are no near plans or intermediate plans to build a road within the Southern Parkway right of way unless it's an access road to get to a great public access greenway trail. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    It sounds like the greenway is going to be a gravel path. Given the generational importance of this proposal, why not pave? It's an incredible opportunity, why not make it as accessible as possible?

    2 months ago

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: In a lot of coordination, discussion, and negotiations with the Mill Creek HOA Boards Greenways Committee, it's been expressed to us the importance of not having a wider trail with a paved surface [at Mill Creek]. So, up to this point, the idea has been to do aapproximately 8-foot-wide crushed stone path with proper base materialsIt would be a well-maintained trail, but not paved. It should be pretty durable and provide a smooth, convenient surface. 

    That said, we haven't coordinated with all the neighborhoods and we're not fully clear on what everyone's preferences are. We do have a clear general vision for this project, but no final decisions have been made. Nothing's been designed. Nothing's been set in stone. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How might the greenway affect crime in the adjacent neighborhoods?

    2 months ago

    [Captain Kevin Miller – Police Department]: There is no foolproof way to prevent crime everywhere within the county. We have other trails and other park systems and there has not been a significant increase noticed in those neighborhoods by the development of those areas. About crimeI have no way of predicting what will happen with this greenway because every place is different, but we are not concerned that this is going to significantly increase crime in these communities.  

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Does the County have eminent domain?

    2 months ago

    [Bob Crickenberger, Director – Parks & Recreation]: The County does have that authorityI have been with Parks and Recreation for over 40 years. Working very closely with staff and the development of a greenway system - easement acquisitions and such. And to this day, we have never exercised that power. That has not even been discussed or thought of. One example is the Old Mills Trail which is about 2 ½ miles. I was heavily involved in all of those negotiations. It took us over 10 years tacquire all of those acquisitions. And we never even considered condemnation. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    We're talking about this whole project as a Southern Parkway as a critical component of it. But has there been any thought about breaking that out specifically?

    2 months ago

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: We've been very thoughtful about the strategic location and the access importance of that existing publicly owned right of way. We haven't designed anything because we want to make sure that the conversation is in close coordination with the community. With it being currently publicly owned, it feels like it is a critical component of the overall network. It doesn't have to be emphasized as a recreational destination for people on the Greenway Trail.  

    When I described recreational use [of the Southern Parkway], it was about formalizing the recreational use. We would love to have conversations about what's important to Foxcroft and to Mill Creek concerning what's there now, possible improvements, how a design, whether it's landscaping or fencing or something that may be able to kind of create an edge element to that and respect the private enjoyment of property while also creating this critical access point. It needs to be further studied and then eventually designed in collaboration with stakeholders, like the neighborhoods. There's an opportunity to have a more accessible pathway down there. I know the private asphalt trail is pretty steep in some places and I know the gravel access road that's used by the utilities is not that accessible to all usersEnhancements and upgrades could be incorporated, but we don't want to design anything or show a final solution before we understand what's most important. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How will you protect the biodiversity in and around the greenway? Is there attention being paid to minimizing the size of the easements that are being proposed, the size of the trails that are being proposed and minimizing the impact of the trails on the plants and the fauna in the area?

    2 months ago

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: In Parks and Recreation, half of our vision is being superior stewards of the natural environment. That was where we were coming from with the idea of accepting a more narrow trail without a paved surface. We have expert staff within our organization who are very aware of and tuned into the importance of native plants and native plant communities, including threatened or at-risk species. 

    The Avon Swamp is a really neat and important aspect of the whole Biscuit Run corridor. We understand there's a special turtle species there, Clemmys guttata, the Spotted Turtle. This is the westernmost range of that turtle in all of Virginia. It's more of a coastal species, typically found in the coastal plain. And there's also a rare or threatened species of orchid. Because it’s currently private property, wcan't do much. An easement that gives the County rights to do recreational access trails, as well as sustainable land management practices, would be necessary. 

    The County's point of comfort would be 40-foot-wide easement for an 8-foot-wide trail, narrowing down to six feet where necessary to avoid any heritage trees. It gets hard to maintain a public access greenway trail with less than 40 feet of access, but we would not have 40 feet wide land clearance or land disturbance. I just want to make that so clear that we are committed to doing this project in part because it's upgrading and enhancing an existing corridor of disturbance, which is an old roadbed. We can't improve it with zero impacts, but we are committed to minimizing those impacts. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Who it is outside of the Foxcroft and Mill Creek neighborhoods that you think is going to use this Greenway, considering there's no place to park their car at Southern Parkway?

    2 months ago

    [Tim Padalino, Chief of Parks Planning – Parks & Recreation]: A lot of the use is happening from outside [of Foxcroft and Mill Creek] members of the public. They are driving to Wegman's and using the future VDOT project, which is now an informal primitive trail. 

    We have designated greenway trailhead parking coming at 5th Street Station – it was part of the rezoning that was a requirement for their rezoning approval. At Starbucks just across from Moores Creek – there's not a ton of parking, but add that to the large surface parking at 5th Street Station. Then, also add in the first phase of Biscuit Run Park trailhead and entrance down on Route 20 later this year. 

    We're trying to create a network of parking around this project and the park that alleviates the pressure in one place and gives people options. So maybe they can't get there without driving, but they may not have to drive as far. There is a larger regional network that may not exist today, but it's planned and is something that is being worked on. 

    This question was asked and answered during the Community Information Session on February 1, 2024.

Page last updated: 02 Apr 2024, 01:21 PM