Long Bridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement Meeting on 10/22/19

The DC Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration will hold a meeting on Tuesday, October 22 to present the Long Bridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The meeting will be open house style from 4-7 p.m. with presentations at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Location:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Building, Room E200, 1100 4th St. SW, Washington, DC 20024

The project is intended to increase rail capacity across the Potomac but also includes a separate pedestrian and bicyclist bridge. The new bridge would provide a connection to the Mount Vernon Trail providing additional access to Crystal City and East Potomac Park, allowing an easier connection to the Case Bridge in DC.

The Draft EIS lists a few adverse impacts to the Mount Vernon Trail:

  1. A trail detour during construction
  2. Loss of some trees and vegetation (including three mature trees)
  3. Impact to the Memorial viewshed
  4. Potential for increased trail traffic

Full meeting details: http://longbridgeproject.com/upcoming-meetings/

Draft EIS: http://longbridgeproject.com/deis/ (We recommend reading the Executive Summary and Chapter 22)

If you’re not able to make the meeting, you can provide comments through October 28th at https://p2a.co/HP4tqaT

Mount Vernon Trail Ride and Fort Hunt Picnic With FABB and Alexandria BPAC – August 18th

Bike ride from Jones Point to Fort Hunt for a potluck picnic. We’ll also check out the Parkway crossings that are part of a safety study.

NPS is currently studying safety at intersections on the southern part of the GW Parkway, and they’re accepting public comments through August 21. On Sunday, August 18, let’s bike to each of the 11 intersections in the study and use that experience to inform our comments. Because it’s less than ideal to bike with a large group on the MVT on the weekend, we’ll probably break into smaller groups of 4-5 people, each led by an experienced rider.

Along the way, each group will have the opportunity to observe issues like speeding on the parkway, the difficulty of crossing the parkway to get to the trail, and trail crossings where it’s hard for drivers to see trail users (and vice versa). We’ll then regroup at Fort Hunt, where we’ll collectively discuss our observations, have a potluck picnic, and write up our individual comments (paper and pens will be provided). If anyone wants to join just for the picnic, they’re welcome to do that too.

Details:

  • Start location: Jones Point Park next to the bathrooms
  • Start time: 9:00 a.m.
  • Picnic Location: Fort Hunt Park, Area E
  • Picnic Time: 11 a.m. (approximate)

This ride is a joint effort of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling and the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mount-vernon-trail-ride-and-fort-hunt-picnic-with-fabb-and-alexandria-bpac-tickets-66142926273

Summer Happy Hour – Thursday, August 1st

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail are hosting a summer happy hour on Thursday, August 1st from 4:30 to 7 at Island Time Bar and Grill located just off the Mount Vernon Trail at the Columbia Island Marina. Come enjoy a beer out on the patio with us. Island Time is a great place to grab a beer or food while you’re out on the trail. Info and menu is here: https://boatingindc.com/island-time-bar-and-grill/

Sign up and let us know you’re coming here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/friends-of-the-mount-vernon-trail-happy-hour-thursday-august-1st-tickets-65366505979

Alexandria Earth Day Bike Ride

The Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is hosting two bike rides in conjunctions with the city’s Earth Day celebration on 4/27. There’s an afternoon ride and and a morning ride. The afternoon ride will visit two sites on the Mount Vernon Trail to discuss future projects.

Afternoon Ride:

Where will Alexandria’s first two-way protected bike lane be installed? Find out at BPAC’s Earth Day afternoon ride, April 27 at 1:00 p.m. Register at http://bit.ly/EarthDayPMride.

What major issue with Alexandria’s waterways needs to be remediated by 2025? Where is the oldest surviving bridge in Alexandria? Find out at BPAC’s Earth Day afternoon ride, 4/27 at 1:00 p.m. Details at http://bit.ly/EarthDayPMride.

Morning Ride:

What do butterfly gardens and traffic gardens have in common? You can learn about both at BPAC’s Earth Day morning ride, April 27 at 9:30 a.m. Details at http://bit.ly/EarthDayAMride.

Which infrastructure project will remove an estimated 5000 vehicles from the roads every day? Which recent project won a Governor’s Environmental Excellence Silver Award? Find out at BPAC’s Earth Day morning ride, 4/27 at 9:30 a.m. Register at http://bit.ly/EarthDayAMride.

Upcoming Events on The Trail From the Friends of the Dyke Marsh

You probably know that Dyke Marsh is one of the best places on the Mount Vernon Trail. The Friends of Dyke Marsh have several upcoming events happening right near the trail. In addition to great educational events, they conduct ongoing habitat restoration and invasive species removal. Keep up with their full calendar of events at fodm.org.

April 20, Raptor Rapture, The Friends of Dyke Marsh, Secret Gardens Birds and Bees, the National Park Service and the Monarch Teachers Network will “host” live raptors, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Belle Haven Park.  You can see big birds up close.  Free

May 15, Sea Level Rise and its Local Impacts (including Dyke Marsh).  Speaker: Geoffrey Sanders, Biologist/Data Manager, National Park Service, National Capital Region Network Inventory and Monitoring Program, 7:30 p.m. at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center preceded at 7 p.m. by an informal social.

June 9, Ecology Walk, Join FODMers on June 9, 10 a.m.  for an ecology walk led by naturalist Charles Smith.  We’ll learn about tidal marsh ecology, vegetative communities, system stressors, seasonality of vegetation and wildlife and ecosystems’ importance.  Meet at the Haul Road entrance at 10 a.m. Bring water, wear sturdy shoes and sun protection.  We request that you not bring pets. 

For outdoor events, if we have severe weather, check our website and Facebook page for a status report. 

Help Restore Habitat, Plant Natives

FODM needs volunteers to help us restore degraded habitat and support wildlife by planting native plants in Dyke Marsh on May 6 (rain date, May 13) 1 to 4:30 p.m.   This will supplement the native plants we put in last year.  Meet at the Haul Road trail native plant site, about 1/3 mile from the entrance.  Wear gloves, long pants and sun protection and bring water.  This event will take place unless we have severe rain and lightning that day.  Please sign up at info@fodm.org.

Help Control Invasive Plants

FODM needs several volunteers to help control invasive or non-native plants in our native plant restoration area off and on.  We can provide training to help you identify several species of known invasives.  If you can help for an hour or two off and on, email Glenda Booth at gbooth123@aol.com.

Announcing the Photo Scavenger Hunt

The daffodils are blooming, spring is right around the corner, and we’re launching a new game to encourage everyone to learn about the hidden wonders of the Mount Vernon Trail.  We hope you’ll give this photo scavenger hunt a whirl!

This is one of the amazing Mount Vernon Trail sites you will find if you follow the riddles.

THE RULES

  • We’ve posted a list of riddles about hidden secrets on or near the Mount Vernon Trail.  They’re listed from north to south.
  • Figure out the riddle, then take a photo of the site, along with the active transportation mode (feet, bike, skateboard, rollerblades, scooter, etc.) that got you there.
  • You can also count up to two photos from the “wild cards” category.  
  • Submit five photos, and you’ll win an exclusive patch!  You’ll also be entered into a raffle for the top prizes. We can’t reveal what the top prizes are just yet, but there’ll be some cool swag involved.
  • The contest runs from Monday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 30.  
  • You can take a maximum of three photos per week.  (Yes, this means that you’ll have to make at least two trips over two weeks if you want to be eligible for the patch and top prizes.  Part of the fun of this event is learning about different aspects of the trail and experiencing the trail at different times.) The scavenger hunt kicks off on a Monday, so a week is Monday-Sunday.
  • Submit all your photos via email at the end.  If you feel so inclined, post your photos to social media and tag us.  See details below.

SUBMISSIONS

  • Send your submissions to MtVernonTrail@gmail.com by May 10. Please put “scavenger hunt” in the email subject.
  • Submissions may be in the form of links to or screenshots of your blog writeups, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, online photo galleries with accompanying narrative, Word documents with attached or embedded photos, or email writeups with photos attached.
  • If you complete the scavenger hunt as a group, you may provide one submission for all of you, so long as you took all of the photos together.
  • If you want to pick up your patch in person, come visit our tent on Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17.  We’ll be at the Gravelly Point afternoon pitstop from 4-6 p.m. Otherwise, include your mailing address in your email submission.  

SOCIAL MEDIA

  • Blog it: Let us know if you blog your scavenger hunt.  We might do periodic roundups on the FOMVT website.
  • Twitter: Tag @MtVernonFriends and use hashtag #MVTphotohunt.
  • Instagram: Tag @mountvernontrail and use hashtag #MVTphotohunt.
  • Facebook: Tag @Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail.  
  • Flickr: Share your photos in the MVTphotohunt Group on flickr.
  • Google Photos:  Share your photos in this Google Photos album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/kp9ujEzrqvVjc7MS6.

THE RIDDLES

  1. He inspired the creation of the toy teddy bear.
    Now he greets visitors with a hand in the air.
  2. Look at these bikes all shining red,
    Docked in a row by the Island of Ted.
  3. A senator, a president, a Texan.
    He’d come here when things would vex him.
  4. Sometimes it was an island, sometimes it was not.
    This plaque tells the tale of when Virginia and DC fought.  
  5. Next to a marina where boaters convene,
    These convenient bathrooms are nice and clean.
  6. Though this station was installed just last year,
    Usage is already through the stratosphere.
  7. Raise your bike, fix a flat.
    Handy tools, just like that!
  8. Towards Crystal City you must circle around.
    A boundary is marked if you look on the ground.
  9. “No one bikes to the airport,” they say.
    But yes, here’s the bike parking at DCA.
  10. Before jetting off on your next vacation,
    Check out what remains of this once-grand plantation.
  11. Need a burger, a beer, or a cold milkshake?
    Stop here for river views and to take a break.  
  12. Water once flowed through Alexandria’s heart.
    Find ye the place where the canal did start.
  13. 3,000 miles of trail sure would be fine.
    Take a trip to Old Town and show us a sign.
  14. Hollensbury built this house for spite.
    Now it’s a historic Old Town delight.  
  15. Ride on through and let out a woo,
    Just like the choo choo used to do.
  16. This once was a place where ships did embark.
    The shipyard is gone, but these launch rails remain in the park.
  17. Final resting place for some escaped slaves,
    Once lost to history were their old graves.
  18. Benjamin Banneker sure did it right,
    Setting this stone at the southern point of light.
  19. A giant awakens, a giant wheel spins.
    The view towards the trail elicits big grins.
  20. In this park, in April 1972,
    The trail officially opened, thanks to a volunteer crew.
  21. Eight Virginians held the highest office in the nation.
    The DAR built this marker in celebration.
  22. Amid wooden bridges, graceful birds take flight.
    This marsh is lovely, by day and by night.
  23. Father of the country forever he’ll be.
    Honor his legacy at this bicentennial tree.
  24. Whether you’re using the trail for fitness or fun,
    You can stop here to get some reps done.
  25. Once a fort to fill invaders with dread.
    Now there are horses. Hello, Mr. Ed!
  26. A wartime secret that not many knew.
    Now there’s a memorial for Box 1142.
  27. Take a look across the river.
    See this fort that made Redcoats shiver.

WILD CARDS

  • An airplane flying near Gravelly Point
  • A sailboat underway on the Potomac River
  • A sunrise over the Potomac River
  • A wild animal on or near the trail
  • A view of a weeping willow and a bridge
  • A view through the bridge looking at the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument

No Right On Red Coming to Porto Vecchio Trail Crossing

The Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board unanimously approved a proposal to change the “No Turn on Red When Pedestrians Present” to a “No Turn on Red” sign where the Mount Vernon Trail crosses the driveway to the Porto Vecchio condos. The Board also recommended that city evaluate making changes to the signal timing for cars to exit the condos as well as prohibiting left turns from the southbound lanes of Washington Avenue when trail users have a signal to cross the driveway. The change will improve safety for over 400,000 trail users that cross this driveway each year where the signals provided right of way to both vehicles and trail users.

Zack DesJardins, John Pickett and Erin Meter provided comments before the board supporting a change to signage on the driveway crossing the Mount Vernon Trail to improve trail safety.

Three Mount Vernon Trail users spoke in support of changing the signage to prohibit right on red at this trail crossing. John Pickett spoke about an incident two years ago where he was hit by a car making a right on red as it exited the condo. You can read about John’s near death experience here: https://rootchopper.com/2017/03/31/making-nelles-hit-list-errandonnee-no-11/

Erin Meter spoke on behalf of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. She spoke about the number of trail users at this crossing, the frequent reports of near misses and the City of Alexandria’s Vision Zero Goals to end all serious injuries and fatalities. She also spoke to an experience the week prior where right on red presented a dangerous situation for trail users: https://twitter.com/ErinMeter/status/1097279244953157632

Zack DesJardins spoke to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and how the Federal Highway Authority discourages the use of the currently installed “No Right Turn on Red When Pedestrians are Present” because it is a vague signal and has low compliance. He also spoke about his weekend observations of traffic exiting Porto Vecchio and the number of times that he witnessed conflicts.

All three speakers recommended changes to the signaling of the entire intersection to improve safety but also ensure that residents of Porto Vecchio did not have excessive wait times to exit the condo.

Friends of the MVT Receives WABA Trail Champion Award

The Washington Area Bicyclists Association awarded the Trail Champion award to the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail at the annual Bicyclists Choice Awards on February 13th. The award recognizes FOMVT’s efforts to maintain and improve the Mount Vernon Trail and make it safe and enjoyable for walkers, runners and bicyclists.


Josephine Liu and Judd Isbell accept the WABA Trail Champion Award (Not Pictured: Casey Kane)

A copy of our award acceptance speech is below.

I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail.

In 1971, two women from Alexandria, Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch gathered over 700 signatures asking the National Park Service to build a trail in the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Despite no funding and a lack of precedent for a trail on federal land, they convinced the Assistant Superintendent to provide the gravel to build a trail if they would provide the labor to build it. On the first day of construction, NPS showed up with 4 shovels. Ellen and Barbara showed up with 50 volunteers.

Today, that initial 4.5 mile gravel trail built by volunteers working through winter has grown to an 18.5 mile paved trail with over 1 million users per year.

As Ellen Pickering later said, “We were just women who said, ‘Why don’t we?’ And, we did!”

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail was founded by three friends who said “Why don’t we?” Why don’t we shovel snow on the trail for five hours so people can get to work? Why don’t we remove trash from the trail in 18 degree weather on MLK Day? And we did! And we’re going to do more.

We all know something that isn’t great or would make biking better in the region.  I’d like to challenge you tonight to do more than just grumble or fire off an angry tweet. Take action! Turn that tweet into an e-mail to a friend that says “Why don’t we?” And then do it.  

Thank you.

Presidents Day Bike Ride – George Washington Themed

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail will host a 20 mile bike ride on Presidents Day visiting four sites associated with George Washington. Full event details are below. Please let us know that you’re coming by signing up at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/presidents-day-bike-ride-george-washington-history-tickets-56062216599?aff=ebapi&ref=eios

About this Event

The Presidents Day Ride is back! This year’s ride is all about our nation’s first President, George Washington (redacted is a long discussion about whether John Hanson was the really the first President under the Articles of Confederation).

Why’s the Washington Monument multi-colored? Why is the Custis Trail called the Custis Trail and what does it have to do with GW? Explore the border of a 1200 acre plot owned by GW that you’ve biked past 100 times. See the Washington family pew which has been used by at least 6 Presidents and one British Prime Minister. See the best view of the City of Alexandria.

Meet

9:30 am at Velo Cafe (730 Maine Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024)

Rollout at 10

Sites

We will visit the following sites related to George Washington:

Washington Monument

Custis Trail

George Washington Survey Marker

Christ Church in Alexandria – We’ll go inside

The George Washington Masonic National Memorial – We’ll go inside

Route

The route will be approximately 20 miles starting in SW DC and ending in Alexandria

Approximate route: https://goo.gl/maps/xps2ZohQyhB2

Bathrooms

Bathrooms will be available at or near each stop, except for a brief stop on the Custis.

Pace

No drop. Average of about 13 mph with a sweep.

Bring

Bike Lock

Small donation to Christ Church as a thank you to the volunteer docents

$15 for admission to The George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Snacks to prevent you from getting hangry

After Party

For those that want to grab late lunch/early dinner afterwards, we will find a mutually agreeable location in Alexandria.

MLK Day of Service By the Numbers

  • 18 — degrees Fahrenheit at the event’s start.
  • 22-25 — wind speed, in miles per hour, throughout the event.
  • Over 30 — number of people who gave up a holiday morning and volunteered despite the weather
  • 34 — number of trash grabbers provided or brought by friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. 
  • 2 — number of bald eagles who came by to supervise the proceedings.
  • 59 — bags of trash removed from Belle Haven Park.
  • 30-40 — estimated weight, in pounds, of the most interesting trash find: a couch cushion that had frozen into a solid block of ice.
  • 2 — number of pickup trucks required to haul all of the trash out of the park.
  • Lots and lots — number of tacos eaten by the invigorated and hungry volunteers at our post-event taco gathering. 

Thank you to everyone who came out to make the Mount Vernon Trail a little bit better. You can tell a trail is loved when folks are willing to come out in freezing weather.

Check out the Mount Vernon Gazette’s article on our event: http://www.mountvernongazette.com/documents/2019/jan/23/mount-vernon-gazette-january-23-2018/