Eastern Shore Rail to Trail Study
Est Completion Date
Late Fall 2020
Lengths and Limits
~50 miles between Cape Charles and Hallwood
Accomack and Northampton
Hampton Roads Communications
About the Study
VDOT initiated the Eastern Shore Rail to Trail Study to assess the feasibility of converting the former Bay Coast Railroad into a shared use path. The abandoned railroad corridor spans Northampton County and Accomack County and travels through the Towns of Hallwood, Bloxom, Parksley, Onley, Melfa, Keller, and Painter in Accomack County and the Towns of Exmore, Nassawadox, Eastville, Cheriton, and Cape Charles in Northampton County. The study area extends approximately 50 miles between the Town of Cape Charles and the Town of Hallwood.
This study will evaluate existing conditions, identify the preferred alignment, develop construction and maintenance cost estimates, and provide options for a management structure. While the shared use path alignment will largely follow the abandoned railroad right of way, the study will identify potential connections into Town and County destinations in the vicinity of the railroad alignment.
The study will garner feedback from state and federal agencies, affected localities, special interest groups, and the general public.
The former Bay Coast Railroad offers 49.1 miles of a primarily flat and straight right of way and presents an opportunity for a shared use path connecting communities, businesses, and State/Federal parks throughout Northampton and Accomack Counties. As the abandoned railroad runs mostly parallel to US Route 13, a VDOT-designated Corridor of Statewide Significance, there is opportunity to reduce conflict points between vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists on US Route 13 with a parallel shared use path; but more importantly, the shared-use path would improve pedestrian and cyclist mobility, accessibility, and safety by providing a separate, dedicated facility to those more vulnerable users of the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Public Comment Opportunity
VDOT invited public feedback and comments on the value of a shared use path through an online survey which was live from Friday, May 15, 2020 until Friday, June 5, 2020. Mailed and email statements were also accepted during the same period.
VDOT recieved tremendous community engagement. We would like to thank the public for providing valuable input into the planning process.
- Initiated study in January 2020
- Held Stakeholder Meetings in February and May 2020
- SMART SCALE pre-applications for specific segments along the study corridor submitted
- Field investigation started March 2020
Study Work Group
The Technical Work Group (TWG) and Stakeholder Group members listed below will serve as resources and will be integral to the success of the feasibility study. Each organization will sign an agreement to fulfill specific roles and responsibilities.
Technical Work Group
- VDOT Central Office Transportation and Mobility Division
- VDOT Hampton Roads District
- Accomack County
- Northampton County
- Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission
- Accomack-Northampton Transportation District Commission
- Dahlgren Heritage Rail Trail / Virginia Bicycling Federation
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
- Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
- Hampton Roads Sanitation District
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
VDOT facilitates stakeholder meetings to provide updates on the study to the identified stakeholders and gather participant feedback. The materials presented at these meeting can be retrieved below.
February 5, 2020 Meeting
May 5, 2020 Meeting
June 23, 2020 Meeting
Resolutions of Support
Northampton County Resolution of Support (in PDF Format)
Accomack County Resolution of Support (in PDF Format)