An overhead display of the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Trail project from Wednesday’s community meeting.
Close to 50 area residents attended a community information meeting on the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Trail Project last night at Mount Vernon High School.
Following a brief open house and some introductory words from Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager, Chris Wells, provided attendees with an overview of the project. Noting that it’s still in its conceptual design phase with no firm implementation timeline or definitive property impacts, Wells said that his team has developed a hybrid approach to the project. It will involve both curb and gutter, and shoulder and ditch designs for a new 10-foot shared use path that will fill in existing trail gaps along Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway between Southwood Drive and Richmond Highway.
“There will be impacts to trees,” conceded Wells, since the county will need to level certain areas for the trail; however, he reassured residents that any impacts to trees or vegetation on private property could be negotiated during the right of way process.
Besides tree and vegetation removal, the project may entail some stormwater and drainage management changes, Wells said, as well as coordination with Army officials at Fort Belvoir who already have planned some intersection improvements at Walker Gate. Wells described the proposed pedestrian bridge crossing Dogue Creek as a concrete and steel structure about 185 feet long and 14 feet wide, designed to aesthetically match with its surroundings.
After walking through the design concepts, Wells addressed the audience’s questions, concerns and priorities, which included:
- Ensuring safe trail crossing over Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway
- Potentially securing the Virginia Department of Transportation’s agreement to lower the speed limit along Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway and make other traffic/pedestrian safety improvements
- Improving stormwater drainage in areas where there are existing runoff problems
- Minimizing impact to underground transformers and residents’ driveways
- Providing adequate signage for the trail
- Addressing poor existing trail conditions between Southwood Drive and Mount Vernon Estate (not part of the project but to be reviewed separately)
Wells — who expressed surprise and gratitude for the large community turnout so early in the process — encouraged the general public to provide additional feedback on the project’s conceptual design by April 8 on FCDOT’s website. Storck said he intends to post the conceptual design maps to the website and would agree to a walking tour of the two-mile trail project area with local residents and other officials to ensure that all issues are taken into consideration.
Upon completion of the $6.5 million project, pedestrians and cyclists will have continuous trail access from Mount Vernon Estate to Richmond Highway, which is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail managed by the National Park Service.