Woolen Mills project will boost Rivanna Trail

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Construction is moving along steadily on the redevelopment of Woolen Mills, with crews now working on framing inside.

Now the focus is looking outside, to aspects of the project that will have the biggest impact on people who like to use local trails.

A walk along the Rivanna Trail is quite peaceful and relaxing, and you can go for almost 20 miles around the city. But there's a problem where Moores Creek meets the Rivanna River There's no way to cross it on foot.

"We've been coming up with and struggling with different ways to do this, stones across the creek, dead trees, but the weather is fickle, so many of our temporary crossings have been washed away," said John Lewis of the Rivanna Trail Foundation.

When the Willow Tree project is finished, there will be a bridge over the water, completing the 20-mile path that circumnavigates the city. For those that spend a lot of time using and maintaining the trail, the Woolen Mills redevelopment plan makes perfect sense.

"I can only think it's one of the major features and attractions to relocating here, is that access to the water, being close to the waterfront of the Rivanna and where Moores Creek enters, and the trail system," said Lewis.

The trail will get more use from people working at WillowTree or coming to the brewery, restaurant and event space also planned for the old Woolen Mills.

"It's a real treat and a real resource to allow people to quickly get out of the urban environment and into the natural environment, and the trail goes on for miles and miles. It's a 20-mile loop around the city," added Lewis.

The bridge will also be part of an even loftier goal.

"The bridge offers opportunities for the city and the county for a greenway or trail that connects the city with Monticello and the Monticello Saunders Trail, so there is a lot of dreaming about foot or greenway traffic from the city up to Monticello area," said Lewis.

When the existing gap in the trail is closed, it will not only close the loop on 20 miles of trail but will open up a new era for the crown jewel of the local trail system

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