Want to learn more about some of the birds that call the Mount Vernon Trail home? The Friends of Dyke Marsh host guided bird walks every Sunday at 8 a.m. starting from the south parking lot at Belle Haven Park. Last weekend’s bird walk included multiple eagle sightings, wood ducks, bluebirds, golden crowned kinglets. and double crested cormorants. Participants also learned how to tell the difference between an American crow and a fish crow by asking one simple question. Binoculars are recommended but the guides have high powered viewing scopes that will get you a close up view. For more information visit the Friends of Dyke Marsh website.
Construction activity related to the Boundary Channel Drive at I-395 Interchange Project will close a portion of the existing unpaved social path near the Pentagon Lagoon beginning on 1/25/2023. The point of closure will be approximately 1000 feet south of where the Mt. Vernon Trail passes underneath the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Signage will be installed to alert path users of the closure. The path will remain closed for up to 6 months as the Project reconstructs the Interchange between BCD and I-395 and constructs a new paved path connecting the existing path to Boundary Channel Drive.
This project will realign the current ramps to I-395 creating two traffic circles with off road paths that connect to the path on Long Bridge, the Mount Vernon Trail and the Pentagon.
A picture of the closures, which includes closing Exit 10A is below. Boundary Channel Drive will remain open during this phase of construction.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway is seeking feedback to establish the scope of an Environmental Assessment needed to allow reconstruction and widening of the Mount Vernon Trail. This is the opportunity to add new amenities to the trail and build a trail that meets modern design standards. This is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you want to see something different on the trail, it’s probably not going to happen unless it makes it into the Environmental Assessment scope. Our suggestions are below and we encourage you to steal what you agree with and submit your feedback by the deadline of January 18th.
Trail Width – The EA Scope should include widening the trail to 14′ feet wide on the north end where practical to account for current use as well as future growth for the next 50 years of existence. The EA should consider widening the portion of the trail from Haul Road to Jones Point Park to 11′-14′ to account for heavy use in this section. The EA Scope should also include establishing unpaved trail on the trail edge with crushed gravel or a similar material which would allow a softer surface for runners and walkers and also protect the trail edge from becoming overgrown. The scope should also in widening of the narrow segment of sidewalk in Lady Bird Johnson Park connecting to the Memorial Bridge.
Trail Realignment – The EA Scope should include straightening of curves on the trail and bridge surfaces. Obscured sightlines at curves is a leading contributor to crashes and injuries on trails. The majority of crashes on bridges have also occurred where bridges curve such as Bridge 1, Bridge 3, Bridge 4, Bridge 27, Bridge 28 and Bridge 31. Further the EA Scope should include realigning the trail at spots that are prone to frequent flooding such as spots north of Memorial Bridge, Daingerfield Island and between Jones Point and Belle Haven Park. The EA Scope should also include realignment or mitigation of areas where water seeps have caused ice conditions on the trail such as between Memorial Bridge and Bridge 30A and in between Bridge 17 and the Old Stone Bridge. The EA Scope should also include building a connecting trail on the current desire path from the north side of Memorial Bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail.
Prioritize Trail Users at Crossings – The EA Scope should include prioritizing trail users at intersections by giving trail users right of way way, installing raised crossings, installing high visibility crosswalks and signage, narrowing crossings, realigning crossings to occur at 90 degree angles and installing paving markings indicating a trail crossing. The trail crossing at the airport exit ramp is particularly dangerous and the crossing at the Daingerfield Island Marina is also a high conflict area.
Crossing the Parkway – The EA Scope include installation of crosswalks at all places on the southern Parkway where there is an intersection with another road. The current scope indicates that some intersections will not have a crosswalk because the connecting street does not have sidewalks, however walkers, runners and cyclists still cross the Parkway at these locations and crosswalks will improve safety and access to the Mount Vernon Trail. The EA Scope should include crosswalks on both sides of the intersection for Parkway crossings to avoid placing people on bikes in a head on conflict with oncoming traffic. The EA Scope should also include construction of connector trails and curb cuts that will connect users to the crosswalks across the Parkway.
Underpass Choke Points – The EA Scope should include widening of the trail beneath Memorial Bridge and on the Crystal City Connector. Both are currently trail chokepoints that only allow traffic one way at a time. The narrow underpass requires trail users to be uncomfortably close to cars while navigating a narrow passage. The EA Scope should include reconfiguring car access from the Parkway at Fort Hunt to utilize only the northern access ramp. This reconfiguration would allow for dedicated and separated space for trail users who are currently routed on to the road through the underpass at Fort Hunt.
Bikeshare Stations – The EA Scope should include siting of future Capital Bikeshare stations colocated with rest areas at Columbia Island Marina, Daingerfield Island, Belle Haven Park, Peter F. Webster Memorial Area, Fort Hunt, Riverside Park and the Mount Vernon Estates. The Bikeshare stations at TR Island and Gravelly Point are among the most used in the system and allowing for future expansion increases access to the trail.
Parkway Barriers – The EA Scope should include addition of barriers at spots where cars have repeatedly left the Parkway and crossed the trail or where risk is high that a car leaving the Parkway would result in fatal injury. The north end of Bridge 30A experiences a car crashing off the Parkway and crossing the trail 1 to 2 times per year. The area north of Humpback bridge has experienced two cars leaving the Parkway, crossing the trail and crashing into the Potomac in the last 3 years. The section of trail from the Smith Boulevard underpass north to the trail access to National Airport has only 10 feet of grass buffer in multiple sections leaving no protection for trail users if a car leaves the Parkway.
Headlight Glare – The EA Scope should include solutions such as barriers, trail realignment and vegetative screens to prevent headlight glare from the Parkway that blinds trail users heading southbound between TR Island and the Merchant Marine Memorial and between Gravelly Point Four Mile Run Trail.
Rest Area Facilities – The EA Scope should include establishment and rebuilding of trailhead facilities at all current rest areas. Restrooms at Columbia Island Marina and Daingerfield Island Marina are in similar condition to the Belle Haven Restroom which is currently included in scope. The EA Scope should include reconstruction of rest areas with durable concrete and include installation of frostless water fountains that can operate year round, new benches, information kiosks, modern bike racks, bike fix it stations and historical and cultural interpretation. The EA should also include installation of additional concrete pads and benches particularly on the southern portion of the trail.
Gravelly Point Bypass – The EA Scope should include construction of a bypass at Gravelly Point to separate the conflict between trail through users and users of the park. This bypass has been included in multiple NPS planning documents. The Scope should include providing a solution for cars that are driving over the trail to park in the grassy area north of the Gravelly Point parking lot on most weekends in the Spring and Summer. The Scope should also include providing accommodations for the food trucks that currently obstruct sightlines where the trail crosses the parking lot access and create generator noise and exhaust. The Scope should also include establishing a paved area for individuals watching plane landings at the Park to safely step off the trail and view from.
Signage, Trail Markings and Counters – The EA Scope should include establishment of signage throughout the trail. Signage should include signs at all entrances to the trail indicating users are entering the Mount Vernon Trail. Signage should also include wayfinding at all intersections. Signage should also include on trail mile markers every tenth of a mile to aid emergency response on the trail. The EA Scope should include installation of reflective trail striping and use of reflective fogline striping at trail curves. The EA Scope should also include installation or repair of trail counters at all entrances and exits to the trail and at Gravelly Point and Belle Haven Park.
Lighting – The EA Scope should include installation of Dark Sky compliant lighting at locations with low levels of ambient light such as south of the 14th St Bridge and north of Old Town. Lack of lighting is frequently cited by female trail users as a barrier to accessing the trail after sunset.
Vegetation Restoration – The EA Scope should include tree planting to replace several mature trees lost along the trail. The EA Scope should also include establishment of native plant meadows that encourage wildlife and pollinators.
Hilco Redevelopment Partners will hold a public engagement meeting on January 30th. This redevelopment will border the Mount Vernon Trail north of Old Town Alexandria and provide new trail connections and trail side amenities. From the press release:
On Monday, January 30 at 6:30pm, Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) will host the thirteenth 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 hybrid meeting will be both in-person and virtual, and provide a preview of the abatement, deconstruction and remediation process, and summary of the open space community engagement process. The community will have an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions during this meeting as part of live Q&A. Questions and comments may be sent in advance to HRPInfoMidatlantic@hilcoglobal.com
Registration information can be found below as well we in the attached flyer. please be sure to note if you plan to attend in person. For more information, please visit the City of Alexandria Website or the HRP Project Website.
If attending in-person, please join us at:
ALX Community- Waterfront
201 N Union St, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22314
Attendees should register in advance.
We know that there were 695 trail bumps on the Mount Vernon Trail because we documented, counted and measured every single one down to the smallest half inch bumps over 18.5 miles of trail. We now have a machine that can grind the bumps away and we fixed 61 of them in December. That leaves 634 bumps.
Can you help us continue to fix the trail bumps by making a donation to the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail? Trail bump removal involves significant costs. As a small, all volunteer nonprofit, we’re incurring costs for fuel, maintenance, asphalt patch and crack sealer in addition to the need for more storage space, equipment transportation, personal protective equipment and additional liability insurance.
We’ve removed bumps from Marina Towers in Alexandria all the way to Jones Point and from Belle Haven Park south towards the Dyke Marsh bridge. Check it out. Let us know what you think. And if you want us to continue removing bumps in addition to the other work we do to trim vegetation, remove graffiti, pick up litter and remove overgrown trail edges, please donate and then sign up for an upcoming volunteer event.
The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comment on a proposed plan and environmental assessment to improve the southern portion of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Mount Vernon Trail. The project would improve safety and address maintenance needs along the parkway and the trail. Comments will be accepted through Jan. 4.
The road and trail improvements being considered would enhance the visitor experience for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Potential improvements to the road include the implementation of a new road diet (reducing lanes through pavement striping to improve safety) in some areas, new crosswalks and intersection changes. Potential safety enhancements for the trail could include trail widening and intersection improvements.
The project area includes the southern portion of the 15.2-mile parkway from Arlington Memorial Bridge to Mount Vernon. The project area also includes the majority of the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail, which extends from Theodore Roosevelt Island and the intersection with the Custis Trail in Arlington to Mount Vernon. The portion of the parkway and trail within the City of Alexandria would not be part of this project. See letter from Superintendent
How to get involved
Engaging with you is a critical part of our preliminary engineering and planning process. Your feedback will be used to refine project designs and to support the analysis of any environmental impacts. Anyone interested in learning more about the project and providing input can participate in the following ways:
- Virtual public meeting: The NPS will host a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, December 6, at 7 p.m., EST using GoTo Webinar. The meeting will last approximately 1.5-hours and there will be an opportunity to submit questions. You do not need to pre-register for the meeting.
- At the time of the meeting, click here to join on your computer or mobile device and enter the Webinar ID (Webinar ID: 314-024-315) and your email. If you do not have GoTo Webinar you will be prompted to install a small file to your computer or download the app on your mobile device.
- You can call into the meeting (no video) using the toll-free phone number and conference ID:
Call in number: (877) 309-2074
Phone Conference ID: 278-447-448
- Online: You can submit comments online or view additional information at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/GWMP_South. Comments are requested by January 4, 2023. The public meeting recording will be posted at this site for you to review if you are not able to attend the live session.
- Mail: Mail your written comments postmarked by January 4, 2023, to:
Attn: GWMP South and MVT Plan/EA
700 George Washington Mem Parkway
McLean, VA 22101
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority sent a notification on November 1st that the planned Long Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge would be widened from 14 to 16 feet. Multiple advocacy organizations had requested that the bridge be widened to 20 feet to allow for growth of walking and biking over the expected 50-100 year lifetime of the bridge. The bridge will provide a new direct connection to the Mount Vernon Trail as well as Long Bridge Park in Arlington.
VRPA provided the following information as the basis for the decision to widen to 16 feet instead of 20 feet:
Widening beyond 16-feet is problematic for the following reasons. The tightest horizontal clearance constraints occur adjacent to the Mount Vernon Trail ramp near the Virginia shoreline and at the Ohio Drive SW landing in East Potomac Park, as these ramps down take up essentially as much space as the bike-ped bridge itself. See the diagram above.
Widening to 16-feet brings the bike-ped bridge ramps on either side of the bridge within 6-feet of the WMATA Yellow Line Bridge Air Rights. We are not allowed to work within this Air Rights space without special accommodations, and the future contractor will need that 6-feet between the Air Rights space and the bike-ped bridge ramps to build the Long Bridge Project.
A few of the impacts if the bridge is widened more than to 16’:
- Significant increase in pier and truss member sizes to accommodate much greater loads, increase impacts to Potomac River bottom and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation areas, affecting permitting and the size of any mitigation projects required to offset this impact;
- Increase in construction cost of up to $20M-$25M, on top of the $5M to widen from 14’ to 16’;
- Major re-work and delay to the engineering schedule;
- Increase in construction schedule of the bridge as substructures and truss members require increased equipment sizes, materials, and durations while reducing workspace to access and construct the bridges between the WMATA Yellow Line Bridge and the bike-ped bridge;
- The need for larger piers and ramps will result in a bulkier superstructure—the opposite effect from what aesthetic design review agencies have requested.
The public has shown great interest in this component of the Long Bridge Project and we greatly appreciate the continued engagement. We look forward to working with all stakeholders as the Long Bridge Project enters its next phase. We will be hosting public meeting in Spring 2023 and as always, members of the public are encouaged to contact us to share their input and ask questions.
Arlington County and VDOT’s CC2DCA Study to build a new bike and pedestrian bridge between Crystal City and National Airport has released two alternatives to advance to a National Environmental Policy Act study. Public comment is open until November 6 and can be provided at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CC2DCA_Feedback3_English
Arlington and VDOT’s preferred alternative is 7D. This alternative would provide a direct connection between a future southern VRE platform entrance and the 2nd Floor of DCA. It also features an arched bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway with a ramp connecting to the Mount Vernon Trail.
Alternative 7D contains two options for the trail connection. The difference between the options is whether the connection is entirely on GWMP land or is partially on land owned by DCA. The concepts above are not final designs. Although a roundabout is depicted, the design is yet to be determined. This concept shows a realignment of the trail around the foundation of the arched bridge. The arched bridge is not required and could be a girder bridge which would allow the trail to remain straight underneath the bridge.
Feedback is open until November 6th. The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail are supporting Alternative 7D. We area also requesting that a girder bridge be used to prevent a blind curve from being created and maintaining a wider buffer between the trail and the Parkway. You can provide your comment at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CC2DCA_Feedback3_English
The Virginia Department of Transportation held a groundbreaking for construction work on the Boundary Channel Drive Interchange Improvements project on September 28th, 2022. The project will deliver safety and mobility improvements for people walking, biking and driving, along with expanded access to recreational activities.
When complete, the project will:
- Reallocate underutilized roadway space on Boundary Channel Drive to expand sidewalks and add a multi-use trail
- Convert ramp terminals along Boundary Channel Drive into roundabouts
- Add a multi-use trail connection to an existing terminus of the Mount Vernon Trail along the Pentagon Lagoon Yacht Basin, on National Park Service Property. This will add a new trail connection between Crystal City-Pentagon City and the regional trail network
- Implement operational and safety improvements for people driving on I-395, Boundary Channel Drive and Long Bridge Drive.
Construction is anticipated to last approximately 15 months, and will conclude in late 2023. Access to the Long Bridge Aquatic Center will be maintained at all times.
Information on the construction process and phasing for the project can be found on VDOT’s pre-construction update.
The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail will host a ribbon cutting with representatives from the National Park Service on Saturday, September 24th at 10 a.m. celebrating the completion of a reconstructed Bridge 12 near Fort Hunt.
The recently completed bridge is a significant upgrade from the old bridge. The new bridge features a 14 foot width with railings that comply with current bridge standards. The bridge is also has straightened approaches which also have a reduced grade compared to the previous bridge. In addition to the new bridge, the trail surface was replaced from Waynewood Boulevard to Fort Hunt Road. A trail counter is also being installed near the Waynewood Boulevard crossing.
Construction on the bridge kicked off in February 2022, with trail users detoured on to a separated lane on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The project was made possible through funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six Year Improvement Plan.