by Kathy Johnson
The plan to restore Claudius Crozet’s 1858 tunnel through Afton Mountain and create a bike trail through it is making progress, according to Nelson County Director of Economic Development and Tourism Maureen Kelley.
The Crozet Tunnel Foundation, a 501(c) 3 foundation, has been established to accept donations toward the renovation project. At its December meeting, the group announced that they have submitted a federal enhancement grant application seeking for $770,000 for three phases of construction.
Phase one of the construction would include the east trail (Afton side), the trailhead and part of the tunnel bulkhead. Phase two would cover the bulkhead and part of the tunnel and the final portion would complete the tunnel and the west trail (Waynesboro side).
According to the terms of the federal program applied to, up to a maximum of 80 percent of the eligible project’s costs can be reimbursed with federal funds, but a minimum 20 percent share must come from other public or private sources. Another grant application will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to cover the cost of land acquisition.
The matching 20 percent can “be provided for in cash, land value, donated materials and services and volunteer labor,” said Kelley. “The latest enhancement application listed the tunnel as an in-kind match with an additional $100,000 to be donated by the foundation.”
Meanwhile, easements are being sought to allow work to be done on the east section of the trail, said Emily Harper of the Nelson County Parks and Recreation Department. Drawings are also being submitted to VDOT for review.
No time frame has been established for achieving the fundraising goal, Kelley said, adding that the plan to phase construction will give the foundation a better chance to get funding. Actual restoration construction will begin when funds are raised.
Gifts toward the project may be sent to the Crozet Tunnel Foundation, P.O. Box 336, Lovingston, VA 22949. Gifts are tax-deductible.