Secretary Pete and a New Bridge Connected to the Mount Vernon Trail

Secretary Pete Buttgieg visited Alexandria’s Union Station on March 30th along with Congressman Don Beyer and Governor Ralph Northam to announce the Transforming Rail in Virginia agreement that will invest $3.7 billion in expanding rail service in Virginia that will increase capacity for CSX freight, Amtrak and VRE.

Conceptual layout of the bike/ped bridge to be constructed as part of the Long Bridge project.

Included in this investment is construction of a New Long Bridge which will create two additional tracks across the Potomac and also include a separate bike and pedestrian bridge with a connection to the Mount Vernon Trail. Full information on the Long Bridge project is available at https://longbridgeproject.com

The full press conference is available at https://youtu.be/b5tMzBmtDC0

We are still hopeful that Secretary Pete will one day visit https://mountvernontrail.org/events to sign up for one of our volunteer trail improvement projects or https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=4HS836DQJ34BC to make a donation to support our work.

Help Support a Connected and Protected Crystal City Bike Network

We are asking trail users to submit feedback to Arlington County about the Crystal City Bike Network Plan using Sustainable Mobility of Arlington County’s talking points. The Arlington County Board recently directed staff to devise a bike network plan for Crystal City to take advantage of the redevelopment occurring as part of Amazon HQ2. The plan falls well short of the Board’s intent of quickly building a connected and protected bike network in Crystal City. Comments are due by Sunday, March 21st. We sent the following letter today:

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail about the proposed Crystal City Bike network. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission that includes promoting safe access to the trail. In 2020, over 300 thousand people used to the Crystal City Connector to access the Mount Vernon Trail. The bike network in Crystal City is vital to ensuring safe passage to and from the trail.

I applaud the County Board directing that a plan be created to seize the opportunity that Amazon HQ2 has brought to rebuild the streetscape and make right of way for a safe all ages bike network. County staff have created a plan that has some great elements, especially the southbound protected bike lane on Crystal Drive and the protected bike facilities on the east/west streets into Crystal City.

The remainder of the plan does not appear to meet the spirit and intent of the County Board. The Mount Vernon Trail is an example of a well used bicycling corridor because it is direct and uncomplicated. We struggle with how we could explain to a family on bikes at the north end of the Potomac Yard Trail how to get to get to the Crystal City Waterpark and Crystal City Connector using the proposed bike network.

Bike facilities work best when they are complete, use direct routes and are easy to follow. We urge the County Board to adopt the bike network plan for Crystal City that has been put forth by Sustainable Mobility of Arlington County. Though some elements of this plan may take longer than four years to implement, it is a plan that best provides the connected, protected all ages bike network that will ensure a vibrant and safe Crystal City.

Judd Isbell
President
Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail

Become a Weed Warrior

Staff from the George Washington Memorial Parkway/National Park Service will hold a two-part invasive Weed Warrior vegetation removal training session on April 5 and 9 and we hope you will participate. The training is not required to help with Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail invasive management events but will provide advanced training.

Please note that you must participate in the Part 1 online class to participate in the Part 2 field training.

Part 1: virtual class (online)
Monday, April 5
9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Click here to sign up for this virtual class.

Part 2: field training
Friday, April 9
8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (choose one)

Locations along the George Washington Memorial Parkway to be decided.
Small, socially-distanced groups.
Click here to sign up for this field training.

Netherlands Carillon Rehab Will Add Comfort Station and Cause Detour

Trail users who access the trail through the Marine Corps Memorial will experience a detour starting March 8th and continuing through March 2022. The detour is necessary to perform work to rehabilitate the Netherlands Carillon and construct a comfort station that will provide restrooms and a place to fill water bottles. The detour will utilize Meade and Marshall which are generally low trafficked. View full details on the comfort station.

https://transportation.arlingtonva.us/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2021/03/Netherlands_MOT_visual_March2021.png

If you’d like to support the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, sign up for a volunteer event at https://mountvernontrail.org/events or donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-crash-free-trollheim

Redevelopment Planned For Crystal City Water Park

JBG Smith is planning a redevelopment of the Crystal City Water Park that includes some potential impacts to the access to the Mount Vernon Trail. In 2020, over 330 thousand people used the Crystal City Connector. JBG Smith presented a request to modify the site plan for the park to the Arlington County Board. Several community members spoke in opposition to the site plan due to the inclusion of a connection to a new VRE platform access that would have created a blind corner and major conflict point with bike riders exiting the tunnel. The Arlington County Board directed JBG Smith to revise the site plan to address the conflict and present revised plans at the March Board meeting. Coverage of the Board meeting is at https://www.arlnow.com/2021/01/27/plan-to-update-crystal-city-water-park-deferred-over-safety-concerns/

The submitted concept included a new walkway to access the VRE platform. Commenters at the January Arlington County Board spoke out against creating connections to the VRE path and the main water park connecting at a blind corner to the tunnel to the Mount Vernon Trail.

The redevelopment promises some upgraded amenities for trail users. A new trailhead facility that includes restrooms be built. Other changes include several vendor kiosks, a platform for performers, more shaded grassy areas and a bar built over the top of the existing water fountain. These changes are likely to make the water park an appealing destination from the trail and build upon the work that the National Landing BID has done to make the park an active and lively location with Fridays at the Fountain. Check out the full concept.

The full concept includes a promenade with kiosk, shaded seating, an event space and a water bar.

If you’d like to help improve the Mount Vernon Trail, please sign up for one of our volunteer events at https://mountvernontrail.org/events

Mandatory Mask Wearing on Federal Lands

The George Washington Memorial Parkway has updated its compendium to incorporate mask wearing rules based on President Biden’s Executive Order 13991. Mount Vernon Trail users are not required to wear masks while on the trail but are required to use a mask if entering a facility such as restrooms. The guidance sent to GWMP’s philanthropic partners is below:

With the installation of the Biden-Harris administration there have been numerous Executive Orders. The intent of this email is to share the actions the park is taking in association with Executive Order 13991, Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing (E.O. 13991). These actions are based on the further guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Interior (DOI), and the National Park Service (NPS).

The guidance issued by the NPS is to be followed by our employees, volunteers, partners, contractors including concessioners, and park visitors. Your help is appreciated as your organization will need to incorporate this requirement into your operations and programs that are provided within George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). We are expressing these expectations in the form of an addition to the park compendium, which has been published on the park website. The addendum can be found by clicking on the following link 20210205-GWMP-Mask-order.pdf (nps.gov)

For ease of reference the text added to the compendium is outlined below:

Individuals over the age of two years must wear masks, except when actively eating or drinking, in the following locations:
1. All common areas and shared workspaces in buildings owned, rented, or leased by the National Park Service, including, but not limited to, park visitor centers, administrative offices, lodges, gift shops and restaurants.

2. The following outdoor areas, when others are present, and where the superintendent has determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained:

Great Falls:

  • Outdoor courtyard area adjacent to the Great Falls Visitor Center
  • The entrance lane to Great Falls, generally described as the travel lane and area adjacent to the fee station where vehicles stop and idle for the purpose of paying and entering the park
  • The (two) designated overlooks at Great Falls

Dyke Marsh:

  • Boardwalk viewing platform at the end of the boardwalk/trail

Glen Echo:

  • Playground

Jones Point:

  • Playground

Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks not designed to be protective, masks with ventilation valves, and face shields do not meet the requirement.

If you’d like to support the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, sign up for a volunteer event at https://mountvernontrail.org/events or donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-crash-free-trollheim

Lots of Trail Improvements – First Power Plant Redevelopment Public Meeting on February 11th

On Thursday, February 11 at 6 p.m., Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) will begin a series of online community engagement opportunities regarding the transformation of the former Potomac River Generating Site (PRGS) in the Old Town North area of Alexandria. HRP will seek to implement the approved Old Town North Small Area Plan, adopted by City Council in June of 2017.

The Old Town North Small Area Plan contains multiple improvements to the Mount Vernon Trail including additional trail access from Slaters Lane, filling the trail gap on East Abingdon, creating a separate pedestrian trail on the waterfront and establishing a linear park with multiuse paths on the current railroad tracks.

This first online engagement opportunity will introduce the community to the HRP Alexandria team and its consultant team who will be working with the community throughout the redevelopment process. The community will be invited to provide feedback and ask questions throughout this community engagement process. Further information on this project can be found on the City’s website and will be made available on the HRP project website soon after February 11.

Want to have a more immediate impact on improving the trail? Sign up for a volunteer event at https://mountvernontrail.org/events or donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-crash-free-trollheim

Boundary Channel Drive Interchange Improvements and Trail Connection Approved by Arlington County

The Arlington County Board approved the major design elements of a VDOT project that will redesign and rebuild the Boundary Channel Drive Intersection. This project will provide a new connection to the Mount Vernon Trail from National Landing and Long Bridge Park.

Boundary Channel Drive will be reduced from four lanes to two, and two crossroad ramps along the drive will be converted to roundabouts. VDOT will build an 8-foot-wide sidewalk on the south side of the drive and a 12-foot shared-use path along its north side. A trail will connect to the Mount Vernon Trail and to a new loop trail around the Arlington County Aquatics and Fitness Center to the Long Bridge Park esplanade.

VDOT is managing the project through a design/build contract with design already underway. Work is expected to begin this year.

Visit the County project page

Visit VDOT’s project page

Want to make the Mount Vernon Trail better? Sign up for one of our volunteer events at https://mountvernontrail.org/events or donate to keep us supplied with tools and materials at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-crash-free-trollheim

Mount Vernon Trail Widening Is Looking Promising

Last week Virginia Transportation Board staff provided recommendations for projects to be funded by Virginia’s SMART SCALE program. Arlington County’s submission for a project to widen portions of the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington and Alexandria was ranked 7 out of 11 projects, which means that it will likely be funded. Project funding decisions will not be finalized by the Virginia Transportation Board until June.

This project would provide funding to the National Park Service (NPS) to improve and reconstruct approximately 6.5 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington and Alexandria, from Roosevelt Island to near Jones Point Park. There is a portion of the trail between these two points that lies on Columbia Island which is part of the District of Columbia. This portion of the trail will not be funded by SMART SCALE and additional funding would need to be secured. The National Park Service (NPS) will manage the project if funded. The project widens the trail’s paved surface from between seven and eight feet to 11 feet where feasible, and makes other associated improvements including striping center and edge lines, signage, improved bridges, and realigned trail intersections.

The application was submitted by Arlington County with Alexandria City Council adopting a resolution supporting the submissions.

Long Bridge Project Advances Through Legislative Milestone

The plan to build a new Long Bridge that will add two additional rails along with a separate pedestrian and bike bridge achieved an important milestone with the approval of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The Omnibus legislation grants the National Park Service authority to convey ownership of 4.4 acres of land that the bridge structures will occupy in the George Washington Memorial Parkway and East Potomac Park. The bike and pedestrian bridge will be accessible from the Mount Vernon Trail and also allow trail users access to Long Bridge Park and Crystal City.