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.

January Volunteer Events

Make a New Year’s Resolution to improve the Mount Vernon Trail. In January, our main focus will removing silt, organic debris and overgrown grass that’s causing water to pool on the trail and create dangerous ice sheets. We will also start tackling the English ivy growing on many of the trees along the trail. English ivy is an invasive species that kills trees by smothering light, causing moisture rot and breaking limbs from excess weight. In addition to killing beautiful trees this increases the risk of injury to trail users from falling trees.

Saturday, January 9th – Trail edging for drainage improvement and English ivy removal – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/133905598249

Saturday, January 16th – Trail edging for drainage improvement and English ivy removal – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/135157460603

Monday, January 18th – MLK Day of Service – English Ivy removal near Marina Towers in Alexandria. – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/133621847543

Saturday, January 23rd – Trail edging for drainage improvement and English ivy removal – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/133911080647

Saturday, January 30th – Trail edging for drainage improvement and English ivy removal – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/135157747461

Monday, February 15th – Presidents Day Event – English Ivy removal near Marina Towers in Alexandria. – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/134283151521

Bridge 12 Replacement Engineering Begins December 14th

Engineering work for the replacement of Bridge 12 begins on December 14th. Bridge 12 currently sits at the bottom of a stream valley with steep grades and sharp turns. The Mount Vernon Trail Corridor Safety Study identified this bridge as a frequent crash site. The new bridge will have a straight alignment with the trail and will eliminate the steep bridge approaches.

Picture of current bridge with steep approaches and multiple curves that have contributed to crashes.

From Monday, December 14th to Friday, December 18th, there will be construction equipment and workers on the Mount Vernon Trail between Waynewood Boulevard and Fort Hunt Road. Workers will be drilling bore holes to test the ground from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The trail will not close, but workers will occasionally direct trail traffic and move equipment on the trail. Signage will also be posted to alert trail user of the work.

Rendering of the new bridge and trail alignment.

Cranksgiving Returns on November 21st

The Friends of Mount Vernon Trail are proud partners of Cranksgiving 2020 which will occur on November 21st. Cranksgiving is a fun bike riding scavenger hunt where participants also gather items to donate to area food banks that are struggling to meet the overwhelming demand caused by Covid-19. Invite your friends to participate with you and sign up today at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cranksgiving-nova-2020-tickets-127805627071

Fixing Trollheim Volunteer Events and Our GoFundMe

The Friends of Mount Vernon Trail are seeking volunteers for multiple events in our ongoing effort to make Trollheim Bridge a little less trollish. Officially called Bridge 31, Trollheim is the wooden bridge next to Theodore Roosevelt Island that has been the site of multiple crashes due to slippery surfaces.

10/31 – Come help us remove the gunk between the board decks that prevents drainage and contributes to mold, mildew and other slippery stuff. – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/125567909999

11/7 – Come help finish removing the gunk between the deck boards that prevents drainage and contributes to mold, mildew and other slippery stuff. – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trollheim-bridge-cleaning-tickets-127659301407

Saturday, November 14th – Bridge 31 Board Repair – You hear those deck boards flopping around when you ride on the bridge? Come help reattach them. – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/125570848789

Tuesday, November 17th – Help remove kudzu from the bridge by the old power plant in Alexandria. Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kudzu-removal-on-the-power-plant-bridge-tickets-128867280505

Thursday, November 19th – Bridge 31 Board Replacement – Come help replace some deck boards that are rotting. – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/125571390409

Friday, November 20th – 10 a.m to Noon – English Ivy Removal in Dyke Marsh. This is a Friends of Dyke Marsh event that we’re promoting. Full details are at fodm.org. To sign up, email info@fodm.org and put English ivy control in the subject box.

Ssaturday, November 28th – Help remove kudzu from the bridge by the old power plant in Alexandria. Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kudzu-removal-on-the-power-plant-bridge-tickets-128867280505

Sunday, November 29th – Help remove kudzu from the bridge by the old power plant in Alexandria. Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kudzu-removal-on-the-power-plant-bridge-tickets-128867280505

Saturday, December 5th – Bridge 31 Board Repair – There’s a lot of freaking loose boards. This is a second loose board fixing event. If we run out of boards, we’ll start flipping some of the boards to extend their life. – Sign up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/125572507751

Sunday, December 6th – Help remove kudzu from the bridge by the old power plant in Alexandria. Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kudzu-removal-on-the-power-plant-bridge-tickets-128867280505

We’re also raising funds to apply an anti-skid treatment to Trollheim. The super good stuff that will both work and survive heavy use and bad weather is pricey. If you’d like to help, you can contribute at our GoFundMe:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-crash-free-trollheim