The trip would take about an hour by bike or four hours on foot (according to Google Maps) but it’s now possible to walk or bike along Va. 234 from Dumfries to Manassas, thanks to a new shared-use path recently opened to the public.
Prince William County officials recently marked the completion of a new section of the path, which closed a gap along a more than 13-mile stretch of shared-use asphalt along Va. 234 from Talon Drive to Prince William Parkway, which becomes Liberia Avenue in Manassas.
That last 4,300-foot stretch connecting Exeter Drive, near the Britney subdivision, to Country Club Drive, outside Montclair, took about a year to build and cost about $5.5 million, according to county Transportation Director Rick Canizales.
About $7.1 million had been budgeted for the path, which was paid for through a mix of proffer funds and state and federal tax revenues, but the county ended up spending a bit less, Canizales said Friday.
Still, the path was a complicated construction project. It runs along Prince William Forest Park and required cutting into sloped land, laying new drainage pipe and building a retaining wall, all of which contributed to the overall cost, Canizales said.
During a Wednesday, Sept. 4 ceremony to mark the official opening of the new section, Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, R-Potomac, said she was glad to see it finished.
"The completion of this path means that there is now a continuous trail all along 234. It goes from Talon Drive all the way to Manassas at Liberia," Caddigan said according to a Prince William County news release.
Caddigan said she has seen people using the new path from the day it was completed.
"I know it's going to be used every day, and it has done my heart good to watch people… using this pathway with their carriages, with their bikes and walking. This path will be shared by runners, bikers and walkers, alike. Families that want to take a stroll together and want to walk to Prince William Forest Park – which is just down the road – can be safe."
Local cyclists Charlie Martorana and Doug Ballantine, who ride with the local Prince William Cycling Club, said they were glad to have the path. They said it makes riding safer and more enjoyable, according to the county news release.
"It closes a gap in here," Martorana said. "We're getting a nice loop that we can ride from here, on a path, continuing onto the parkway. Anything like this we appreciate. With this nice loop, we can just get out here and ride."
Ballantine said he can now ride with less trepidation. "It gives us the freedom to be able to ride without worrying about people in cars not paying attention.”
With the completion of the project, there are six streetlights planned for installation at major intersections adjacent to the project on the trail side of Route 234. The lights will illuminate the path at night, something that is not common in Prince William County, Canizales said.
The plan calls for one streetlight each at Country Club Drive, Fortuna Center Plaza and Four Seasons Drive. Two lights are planned for the Talon Drive Intersection. A light has been installed at Exeter Drive.