BRISTOL, Va. — Developers of the Mendota Trail have received a $25,000 grant for an engineering study.

Rails to Trails Conservancy announced a series of 10 grants Thursday, including one to the Mendota Trail, which — once complete — would extend from just outside the Bristol, Virginia, city limits to the Washington County community of Mendota, according to a written statement.

The funds will be used to complete preliminary engineering studies and begin initial stabilization work on the trestle’s infrastructure.

“This award is huge,” trail volunteer Bob Mueller said. “It allows us to continue the advancement of the trail toward Benhams. Restoration of this trestle is truly a challenge since it is 193 feet long and 40 feet above ground. We are humbled and honored that our project was deemed worthy of the grant, as we know many worthwhile projects were considered.”

The 12.5-mile recreational trail is under active development on a former railroad bed that last saw locomotive traffic in the 1980s. Mountain Heritage Inc., a nonprofit organization that has an established record of trail development in the region, acquired the property in 2016.

“We ultimately plan to place repurposed shipping containers, linked end to end, on the trestle’s stringers. Windows will be cut in the containers, resulting in a ‘covered bridge’ configuration. We anticipate this innovative approach will considerably reduce our construction costs,” Mueller said.

Currently, one mile of the trail is open to the public on the Mendota end. It is anticipated that a segment of the trail on the Bristol end will open this summer. For safety reasons, Mountain Heritage requests that users stay off trail segments that have not officially opened.

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