MARTINSVILLE – The newest section of the Dick & Willie Passage trail may be ready for walkers, bikers, runners and others this fall.
Construction of the 2.5-mile trail — called Section 6B — began in January at the route’s end at the Smith River Sports Complex. Tim Pace, director of engineering for Henry County, said construction of other amenities, including a trailhead at the other end of the section on Spruce Street, also may begin soon.
The section should be paved and ready for use late this fall, Pace said.
Section 6B will travel from the trailhead at Mulberry Creek and Spruce Street to Sam Lions Trail and then to Country Club Drive, where it will be on the existing road. At the end of Country Club Drive, the path will go back into the woods and follow the east side of the Smith River to the sports complex off Irisburg Road.
The section includes some of the prettiest views in Henry County and shows “nature at its best,” said Henry County Administrator Tim Hall.
At the sports complex, the path of the trail has been cut, ending near the pond beyond the soccer fields. There are other trails cut through the woods there, and Hall said linking them to the Dick & Willie may be considered in the future.
The route of Section 6B was shifted onto Country Club Drive recently after some residents there complained that the original route ran in back of their homes. The route was moved onto the street in front of the homes, which prompted Martinsville City Council to approve an easement to the county to build the trailhead on Spruce Street.
That trailhead will include a parking area and rest room facility that may be similar to the one at the Liberty Street trailhead, Pace said.
The new route has no switchbacks or grades of more than 16 percent, Pace said. By comparison, part of the Silver Bell Trail in Martinsville has an 18 percent grade.
“We were never concerned with the grade but any time you can get it down, you want to do it,” Hall said.
For that reason, Pace said, dirt is being moved and other steps are being taken to reduce the grade on some parts of the new trail.
Parts of Section 6B will be handicapped accessible, Pace said. The existing 4.5-mile section the Dick & Willie is handicapped accessible, he said, which is required when federal funds are involved with the project. The federal funds were provided through a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) grant, he added.
While the entire section will not be handicapped accessible, Section 6B can have a variety of grades and appeal to a variety of users, from hikers to bikers and others, Hall said.
“There are sections for everybody,” he said.