The Trolley Line Trail: Ashland’s Addition to The Great Outdoors

Lillian Minix By: Lillian Minix

As the first completed section of the 43-mile Fall Line Trail, the new Trolley Line Trail in Ashland is making big strides in outdoors lovers’ lives through Central Virginia.

With a rich history in trade and travel, the Trolley Line between Ashland and Richmond was a cornerstone of transportation in Central Virginia for over a century. Travelers would hop on a trolley for long weekends or to visit the other side of town for the day. The route began in 1812 as a stagecoach toll road and began servicing trollies in 1907. After it stopped running trollies in 1938, travelers switched to buses to navigate the region. Though buses used the adjacent paved roadways, the trolley lines still existed.

Now, more than 80 years after the Richmond-Ashland trolley service stopped, town-goers and tourists alike will benefit from a revitalized use of this historic space: The Trolley Line Trail.

According to the Town of Ashland, construction on the Trolley Line Trail boardwalk began in spring of 2019. Timmons Group worked with the Town to provide environmental, engineering, geotechnical, construction materials testing, inspection, and survey services to ensure the safe preservation and revitalization of the historic trail.

Timmons Group's design for the 1,575-ft (0.3-miles) boardwalk is a multi-purpose path generally 10-ft in width that consists of asphalt and an elevated concrete system by Permatrak.

“There were several challenges the design team faced with the design of the Trolley Line Trail,” says Sheila Reeves, a Senior Project Manager in Timmons Group’s Stormwater Infrastructure division. Walder Road is constructed on soft fill material, measuring over 15-ft in depth in some places, with steep slopes on both sides of the roadway down to a natural grade. Given the soft fill condition of the embankment, the elevated boardwalk system required a deep foundation. Further complicating the design, sensitive wetland and stream systems were located along the toe of fill along Walder Road. She says, “The innovative use of helical piers provided the deep foundation required for the elevated boardwalk system while minimizing impacts to sensitive streams and wetlands and facilitating construction under the overhead power lines that are located along Walder Road”.

The newly completed section of the trail is part of the overall Fall Line Trail that takes walkers, runners, and bicyclists from Ashland to the Petersburg Trail. Once more sections are completed, the project will be part of the East Coast Greenway. The boardwalk opened to the public on Monday, April 26, 2021. The Town of Ashland held a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the newly constructed boardwalk for pedestrians and bicyclists. Watch the video highlight here.

“Additional improvements are being planned,” Sheila says. “In the meantime, we look forward to the public hitting the boardwalk with their friends, family, and pets to enjoy the scenic Trolley Line Trail.”

Visitors can find parking for the Trolley Line Trail and a bicycle repair station at Carter Park located at 1112 Maple Street, Ashland, VA 23005.

You can learn more about how to enjoy the new Trolley Line Trail from the Town of Ashland’s website or from the Fall Line Trail official website.