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Connect Our Schools

We believe all students should be able to safely and easily choose to walk or bike to school.

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In 1969, 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or bicycled to school. Today less than 13 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walk or bicycle to school

We advocate for building smart connections to our community schools that strategically connect the places we live, play, and work to create more enjoyable and networked communities.

Harrisonburg’s Rocktown High School is slated to open in the fall of 2024 without even a sidewalk connection.

The City of Harrisonburg has a unique opportunity to extend the Bluestone Trail to connect to Rocktown High School and provide a safe greenway connection while avoiding major roads like South Main St.

Let’s Connect Our Schools for Walking and Biking:

  • No sidewalks exist along South Main St Leading to the School.
  • The Current Bluestone Trail (greenway) ends less than half a mile from Rocktown High School.
  • Most of the property needed for the project is already owned by the City of Harrisonburg.
  • Extending the Bluestone Trail would do more than connect to the High School; it would continue a north-south greenway connection to connect to Massanutten Technical Center, Rockingham High School, Pleasant Valley Elementary, and eventually south into Rockingham County to Mount Crawford and Bridgewater.
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Wasn't there already a "Connect Our Schools"?

  • The Connect Our Schools campaign was used to advocate successfully for the Friendly City Trail.
  • In 2015, the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition helped the Harrisonburg community speak with one voice in support of a trail connection to Harrisonburg High School and the soon-to-be-built (at the time) Bluestone Elementary.
  • After a successful campaign with hundreds of letters to city council members, 1,000+ petition signatures, and yard signs around the city, Harrisonburg City Council voted in support.
  • Funds for the “Garbers Church Shared Use Paths” were included in the bond for Bluestone Elementary.
  • The Virginia Department of Transportation Revenue Sharing Grants were then used to match those funds.
  • The trail opened in the spring of 2023 and was named the “Friendly City Trail.”

Why Wasn't the Trail Built with the High School?

  • This is a great question!
  • We don’t build schools without roads or parking lots and we shouldn’t build them without safe connections for biking and walking.
  • Unfortunately, connecting the school for biking and walking was not a priority for the City of Harrisonburg School Board or the City Council at the time of the new High School discussion.
  • The school itself was a contentious issue but now Harrisonburg has a second high school and it should have safe bike-walk connectivity for students, faculty, and staff.

Is the City of Harrisonburg Trying to Build this Connection?

  • The City of Harrisonburg has applied for 2 Virginia Department of Transportation SMART SCALE Grants.
  • Both Prior grant applications were unsuccessful but scored well and were very competitive with other projects across the state and the region.
  • The City of Harrisonburg will apply for a third time in August 2024.
  • If the VDOT SMART SCALE Grant is awarded, the project will be fully funded, and construction will occur within 6-8 years.
  • If the grant application again scores too low for state funding, the City of Harrisonburg will have to get creative with how to safely connect Rocktown High School for biking and walking.

Why all the fuss about just one school?

Harrisonburg’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan called for a greenway connection through the Rocktown School location before the school was ever proposed for this location along I-81

Rockingham County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan – “Cooks Creek” Greenway connection from Harrisonburg to Bridgewater to Dayton to Belmont.

Do you have ideas or questions about Connect Our Schools?

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