Users of the DRHT near Rt 301 (near Sheetz) will have noticed that the trail has been slightly rerouted. The trail has been shifted north about 50 feet to accommodate a new self-storage facility being built in the King George Gateway commercial area. The reroute was provided by the KG Self-Storage LLC, Monmouth Partners and Mullen Excavating. Thanks to them for assuring the continuity of the trail for the citizens of King George.
When CSX abandoned the eastern section of the Dahlgren Junction Railroad in the 1970s, they put it on the market. It was finally sold to a King George resident, Joe Williams, in 1997. This section ran from Bloomsbury Road near Sealston, to Rt. 301 in Dahlgren, near the corner of Owens Drive, and across from the “railroad gate”, now the Navy Base’s B Gate. What is not widely known is that the last mile before Rt. 301 was sold a few days later to the developers of the property along Rt. 301 which is now a bustling commercial area.
Fast forward a few years to 2006, when the vision of a rails-to-trails project came into being, and the property was sold to a David Brickley and a Friends group was established to build and maintain the trail. While this section of the trail, 15.7 miles, was “officially” the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, to the trail users and especially to the residents in nearby residential developments, it was all one trail, from Sealston to Rt. 301. While we always realized that the eastern mile was subject to development, nothing happened for many years and it wasn’t a big concern. We still maintained the vision of the trail reaching to B Gate to provide a commuting route to the Navy Base for bicyclists, and a way to get to the shops and restaurants and hoping that we could work something out with the developers.
Fast forward again to a couple of months ago. The first commercial development is occurring on the trail. A few yards west of Rt. 301, construction has started on a large self-storage facility. The facility will extend onto the original railbed. The good news is that the developer, King George Self-Storage, has built a new trail a few yards north or the original trail. The new trail has recently been opened and is now in full use. The work on the reroute was done my Mullen Excavating, who is the site preparation contractor for the self-storage development. According to Peggy Mullen, the owner, the work for the trail was pretty routine. For those who have been on the new trail it looks really nice. The Mullen company project superintendent, Mike Vogel, did a great job. The trail construction involved filling in a ditch that was left over from the original railroad construction in 1942, grading and compacting the trail bed, and applying a layer of gravel. Garden club members are already discussing how to landscape the new trail when the facility construction is 100% complete.
The rerouted trail is shown on the site plan for the self-storage facility as a “trail reservation.” The reserved area is 30’ wide, and stretches for about a quarter-mile in a nice wide arc, following the curve of the railroad as it left the base and followed the land topography to Fredericksburg. The trail itself, is about ten feet wide.
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