The office of Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck and Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) officials presented intermediate design plans for the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (MVMH) Trail project at a public meeting in early December.
According to the latest design plans, the county intends to build a 10-foot-wide, shared-use (pedestrian and bicycle) path with an eight-foot buffer from the roadside curb and gutter. The asphalt path will be 6,400 feet long within the missing trail segments.
Additionally, the county will construct a new 14-foot-wide pedestrian bridge over Dogue Creek using stones that match those found at George Washington’s Grist Mill.
The MVMH Trail project is intended to provide walking and biking accessibility to attractions and amenities along the MVMH corridor and beyond, as well as complete missing segments of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail between Richmond Highway and Southwood Drive.
FCDOT’s plans “look really good,” said Jeff Gauger, a Mount Vernon resident and bike commuter who serves on the board of the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB). Gauger, who credited Storck for his leadership on the project, said the only downsides are that the project doesn’t repair existing trail segments or provide signage or direct connections to other regional trails, like the Mount Vernon Trail.
For local residents, including school students, the completion of the walking path along Mount Vernon Memorial Highway is expected to greatly enhance pedestrian safety. One design element that was particularly well received at the December 9 public meeting, according to Gauger, was the proposal to place a rectangular rapid flash beacon at the corner of MVMH and Southwood Drive.
Safety improvements, such as a relocated crosswalk, also were proposed for the entrance to Grist Mill Park. Other safety proposals include installing new crosswalks, pedestrian signals and ADA curb ramps, and making improvements to bus stops.
County officials have estimated the project cost to be around $6.5 million, which will be locally funded. Construction is expected to take place in 2021.
For Gauger and other FABB members, the prospect of eventually having a complete regional trail network is exciting.
“This is going to take years, but eventually I think we’ll see a really nice east-west trail,” he said.