Hilco Redevelopment Partners is seeking feedback about open space features for the redevelopment of the Alexandria power plant which will impact the Mount Vernon Trail. We encourage all trail users to submit a response by May 31st. We suggest including the following in your feedback:
Question 7: Select separated bike facilities and native plant garden
Question 8: Select replacement of the cage
Question 9: Widen and straighten the bridge by the pump house. The current narrow design with blind corners has contributed to injuries on the trail.
Question 14: Select water fountain, public restrooms and bike repair station.
Question 15: Separate biking and walking trails that connect between the Mount Vernon Trail and Abingdon Drive.
On May 24, 2023 at 6:30 p.m., Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) will host the fifteenth in a series of community meetings regarding the transformation of the Potomac River Generating Site (PRGS) in Old Town North. The City of Alexandria and the HRP team are committed to engaging the community and obtaining feedback on this project and are working together to facilitate the best possible process to encourage public participation.
This meeting will be virtual (via Zoom) and provide a preview of the open space plans on and around the site as part of the open space community engagement process. The community will also be able to ask questions during the meeting as part of live Q&A.
On May 15, the National Park Service (NPS) will begin a project to replace Bridges 23 & 24 on the Mount Vernon Trail south of Alexandria within Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and near Belle Haven Park. During the project, trail users will be detoured around the construction area.
Trail users will recognize Bridge Bridge 24 as the very short and narrow bridge between Belle Haven Park and Dyke Marsh.
The NPS will replace and widen the bridges from 10 feet to 14 feet. The NPS will also add new pedestrian safe handrails and rehabilitate a bench and overlook on Bridge 23.
Bridge 23 is the long bridge that goes through Dyke Marsh.
Construction will take place in two phases:
The first bridge to be worked on will be Bridge 24 (the northernmost bridge). Work will begin on May 15 and finish around July. Work will then shift to the larger bridge, Bridge 23 in July. Work will occur on this bridge from July 2023 to April 2024, when the project will be completed.
During this project trail users will be detoured on the adjacent road (northbound section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway). The NPS will reduce the northbound section to one motor vehicle lane and install temporary concrete barriers between the road and detour on the roadway to protect trail users.
The new bridges will be built to the same design standards as the recently rebuilt Bridge 12, featuring a 14 foot wide deck with railing that meets modern design standards.
On May 12th from 9:00 am – 11:45 am and May 13th from 9:00 am – 11:30 am, Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) will host guided tours of the Potomac River Generating Station (PRGS) site in Old Town North. The tours will offer community members an opportunity to meet with the project team and visit the site, which has been closed off from Old Town North and the waterfront for decades. Community members will hear about the vision for a vibrant, friendly, and walkable waterfront community that will include connections to the Mount Vernon Trail.
HRP has partnered with Alive! to host a food drive the day of the tours. Attendees are encouraged to bring shelf stable food items to be placed in the bins near the registration table. For more information about ALIVE! and their mission in supporting Alexandria’s food pantries, meal kitchens, public schools, recreation centers, and other community partners please visit: alive-inc.org/.
The City of Alexandria and HRP are committed to engaging the community and obtaining feedback on this project and are working together to facilitate the best possible process to encourage public participation. Please visit the City’s project website and HRP’s project website for more information on the vision for this redevelopment.
Please send your questions and comments to HRPInfoMidatlantic@hilcoglobal.com .
*For individuals who require mobility assistance, a golf cart will be available to tour the site on request.
*Spanish interpretation available on request. Interpretación en español disponible a pedido.
*Due to safety reasons, children under the age of 10 are not allowed on the tour.
On Sunday, April 23, the City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), the independent public wastewater treatment authority serving Alexandria, presented the 2023 Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award to The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail (FoMVT), an Alexandria-based volunteer organization dedicated to the ongoing maintenance and improvement of The Mount Vernon Trail.
Since 2018, FoMVT has conducted 140 events with 2,315 volunteers providing 6,458 volunteers hours to improving the Mount Vernon Trail and George Washington Memorial Parkway. “We can’t imagine a better recognition than receiving an award in the name of a founder of the Mount Vernon Trail. Ellen Pickering’s work to establish the trail as well as create open public space on the Alexandria waterfront was a major inspiration in the decision to establish FoMVT. Ellen’s life is a testament that investing in your community inspires others to build on that investment with a lasting impact. We are out improving the trail every weekend and hope that you will join us,” said Judd Isbell, President of Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail.
Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail leaders posing for a picture with AlexRenew Board Members Bill Dickinson and James Beall, Congressman Don Beyer, VA State Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Alexandria Council Members Alyia Gaskins and Sarah Bagley.
Founded in 2018, and inspired by the legacy of Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch, the two women who built the Mount Vernon Trail, FoMVT’s mission is to improve the Mount Vernon Trail for the benefit of all users. The organization focuses on four areas: trail maintenance, natural resource protection, natural resource appreciation and advocacy.
AlexRenew Board of Directors Secretary-Treasurer Bill Dickinson presented the award to FoMVT President and Co-Founder Judd Isbell yesterday at the Del Ray Citizens Association’s Gardenfest event, one of Alexandria’s community events celebrating Earth Day. Congressman Don Beyer, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, and Councilmembers Alyia Gaskins and Sarah Bagley also attended and praised the organization for how it supports community parks and trails.
The Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award recognizes Alexandria community members who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and preserving local natural resources. Volunteers from The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail can be seen on the trail every weekend conducting project work that includes repairing bridges, removing invasive species, performing bump removal service, pothole repair, bridge board replacement, pressure washing slippery bridges, trail edging, and trimming overgrowth of vegetation.
FoMVT place great emphasis on natural resource protection, coordinating clean-up activities focused on the removal of invasive plant species that destroy native vegetation and deprive wildlife of food sources. In addition to picking up litter from the landscape, volunteers remove bush honeysuckle, English Ivy and kudzu nearly every weekend, saving mature trees from destruction and allowing the re-emergence of native plants.
This annual award honors the late Ellen Pickering and her lifelong dedication to City preservation and conservation. The selection committee is composed of one member of Ms. Pickering’s family, a representative from AlexRenew’s Board of Directors, and a representative of EPC. Nominations are accepted each year starting in February, and awarded in April as part of the City’s celebration of Earth Day.
Visit alexandriava.gov/EarthDay for more information about the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award and other Earth Day activities.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway announced the addition of a new Chief of Staff, Dr. Christopher Hershey. The position was formerly filled by Aaron LaRocca who left to become Superintendent of the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. The Chief of Staff plays a vital role in keeping park projects moving as well as maintaining relationships with GWMP’s Friends groups like the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail. We’re looking forward to working with Dr. Hershey to continue making the Mount Vernon Trail a world class trail. Dr. Hershey’s bio from NPS is below:
Dr. Christopher Hershey, widely known as “Doc,” is a dedicated public servant, military veteran, and esteemed member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, a state-recognized tribe in North Carolina. He has been appointed to serve as the Chief of Staff and Public Information Officer for the George Washington Memorial Parkway, furthering his commitment to environmental conservation and public service. Dr. Hershey’s extensive background includes positions in the U.S. Department of State, The White House, Department of Veterans Affairs and most recently as Chief of Staff Department of Energy Office of Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation.
Dr. Hershey is a highly accomplished leader with impressive credentials and extensive experience in Resource Management. In addition to his Doctorate from Saint Thomas University with a focus on International Affairs and Masters in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University, he has received specialized training in Legislative Affairs at the Foreign Service Institute, which has further enhanced his skill set and expertise. As a Certified Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practitioner from Cornell University, Dr. Hershey is deeply committed to promoting inclusive and equitable practices within the National Park Services.
Dr. Hershey and his family reside in the Palisades neighborhood, adjacent to the beautiful Glen Echo Park. This proximity to the park and Potomac River has given him a unique appreciation for the importance of protecting and preserving our nation’s natural resources for the enjoyment and benefit of present and future generations.
Throughout his career, Dr. Hershey has served in various roles that showcase his experience in land use management, environmental conservation, and collaboration with diverse stakeholders. He has worked with the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission as the Director of Special Projects and Major Capital Construction Projects, focusing on responsible and sustainable development of parks and recreational facilities. He worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs, collaborating with National, State and Tribal Cemeteries as part of the National Cemetery Affairs, promoting the preservation of our nation’s historic and cultural heritage. As Deputy Director for Marine Environmental Response with the United States Coast Guard, he played a significant role in preserving and protecting our nation’s waters and marine ecosystems. Additionally, as a member of the RESTORE Council Federal Board of Directors and Senior Policy Advisor, he contributed to the restoration and conservation of the Gulf Coast’s natural resources and ecosystems.
Dr. Hershey expressed his enthusiasm for his new role, stating, “I am truly honored to join the National Park Service. I am deeply committed to working alongside the Superintendent, staff, and stakeholders to ensure that we protect and preserve our parks for generations to come. I look forward to fostering meaningful partnerships and engaging with community leaders, nonprofit organizations and elected officials at local, state, and congressional levels.”
In his new role, Dr. Hershey will be dedicated to supporting the National Park Service mission to protect and preserve our parks, while promoting partnership, community engagement, and collaboration with local, state, and congressional leaders. His extensive public service experience, expertise in land use management, and environmental conservation make him an invaluable asset. Please join us in welcoming Doc Hershey to the George Washington Memorial Parkway Team.
The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail have established a partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to install new faregates on the Mount Vernon Trail. “This partnership represents a significant investment of $30 million for 100 gates and creates recognition of the Mount Vernon Trail as an important part of the public transportation network,” said Randy Clarke, General Manager of WMATA. “A recent study showed that 100% of Mount Vernon Trail users were not paying a fare.”
The faregates will work with existing WMATA cards and installation will begin in late summer 2023. In addition to raising revenue, the fairgates have an additional benefit of providing traffic calming on the trail. “Ever since we began removing trail bumps this winter, the smoother trail surface means that there’s nothing to slow trail user speeds. These new faregates should help slow people down to safe speeds” said Judd Isbell, President of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail.
Reaction to the news has been mixed. “Is this some kind of April Fool’s post?” asked Twitter user @RunninTheMVT. “I mean, I’m just going to run around it.” Some users expressed support but had concerns. “I guess this is a good way to raise money to improve the trail, but I’m concerned that my cargo bike isn’t going to fit through even the wide gate,” said @CargoBikesRule in a tweet.
The Virginia Regional Passenger Authority (VRPA) is seeking comment on the most recent designs for the future Long Bridge Bike and Pedestrian Bridge across the Potomac River. The bridge will be built in conjunction with construction of a new railroad bridge that will double train capacity across the Potomac.
Previous comments have been successful in widening the bridge by 2 feet, but we think it should be wider to meet needs for the next 100 years. Visit the survey and provide comments to Question 5 that we stole from our friends at Sustainable Mobility of Arlington County:
The proposed 16′ bike/ped bridge width is too narrow. The vertical barriers on each side reduce the useful width of the bridge and leave no space for people to pause, whether to tie their shoe, change a flat tire, comfort a crying baby, or watch a train go by. We cannot trap people in a 16′ wide channel that is nearly 10 football fields long without space to take a necessary pause. The proposed width will create conflicts that will be with us for decades to come. Please widen the bike/ped span to 24′ in as many areas as possible to create space where people can pull to the side & pause.
In addition to widening the bridge by 2 feet, the updated designs have some great improvements to the connection to the Mount Vernon Trail, Long Bridge Park and East Potomac Park. The Mount Vernon Trail connection will have both a ramp on the eastern side of the trail and a staircase on the western side, both that are 16 feet wide. The landing area for the connection is wide to allow safe transitions. Planners also have planned the connection to accommodate the future widening of the trail to 11 feet.
The bridge will connect to the existing path behind the Long Bridge Aquatics Center which connects directly to the Long Bridge Esplanade as well as the future trail under construction as part of the Boundary Channel interchange project.
The landing to East Potomac Park is much improved from the previous design. The bridge will gradually slope to connect to the park and will have north and south approaches to connect to the roadway. Planners have incorporated connection to future bike lanes on Ohio Drive.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) has completed 30% design on the Long Bridge project which includes a Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge that connects directly to the Mount Vernon Trail. The design will be shared during public engagement meetings in March. The Long Bridge Project will double existing rail capacity, creating a four-track corridor, by constructing approximately 1.8 miles of improvements, including a new two-track railroad bridge across the Potomac River, five rail bridges, bicycle and pedestrian bridges, and related railroad infrastructure. The Project serves to increase capacity and improve passenger rail operations.
The following engagement opportunities are planned:
March 15 (3:30-6:00 PM): VRE Crystal City Station Entrance, 1503 Crystal Dr, Arlington, VA 22202
March 21 (3:30-6:00 PM): VRE L’Enfant Station, 650 Virginia Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
March 25 (1:00-3:00 PM): Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center, 333 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
Over the past month, we have been busy mapping all 18 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail for Google Street View. Previously only small portions of the trail were available online. We hope that having the entire trail on Google Street View it will inspire people to go outside and check out the trail in real life. Additionally, people worldwide can now experience the beauty of the Mount Vernon Trail from their computers. We will continue to update Google Street View throughout the year so trail users can see the trail change across seasons. Mapping the Mount Vernon Trail is only possible via the support of donors who helped purchase a GoPro Max camera. We use this camera to document the trail and volunteer events.
Highlights of our Google Street View footage include:
The new ramp is slightly wider, has a gentler slope and improved sightlines. The concrete surface also contains a lane divider markings as well as slow and yield markings where the ramp will connect to a new VRE platform entrance. Bicycle markings provide a visual indicator on the ramp of the presence of people riding bikes in an area that has high bike and pedestrian use. Construction is still ongoing in the park, which will open later this year new facilities including a trail head facility with restrooms.
Trail users may recall that the old ramp was made of brick pavers and included a sharp curve on a steep grade.