One man’s palatial homeless camp near Rosslyn took VDOT crews five hours to tear down using heavy machinery and numerous dump trucks, WJLA reported.
The camp, located in the woods along the path that leads from the Mt. Vernon Trail to N. Lynn Street, near the Key Bridge, was about half the size of a football field. The camp was reportedly the work of one El Salvadoran immigrant, who spent years building it, eventually adding a makeshift kitchen, bedroom, and living room.
VDOT crews with bulldozers and heavy machinery spent hours tearing the camp down on Monday, after complaints from some passersby, according to WJLA.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The National Park Service will be installing a series of safety improvements along the George Washington Parkway, intended to make Memorial Circle and several Mt. Vernon Trail crossings across the parkway less dangerous.
The improvements were announced this morning by Rep. Jim Moran (D). Work on the improvements will start next week and will wrap up by the fall. Among the planned changes, according to Moran’s office:
- “Replacing many of the directional and regulatory signs in the Circle and on Memorial Bridge”
- “Installing rumble strips bumps to alert drivers before each of several specific crosswalk areas”
- “Painting directional arrows, information, and symbols directly onto the pavement to help drivers select proper lanes early”
- “Moving one crosswalk area from where there are two lanes to where it is only one lane wide”
The announcement comes just three days after a cyclist was struck by a car and injured at a trail crossing just south of Memorial Circle. Several other accidents and close calls have been reported at GW Parkway trail crossings over the past two years.
“It’s a confusing area and unfortunately we have a lot of accidents involving bicyclists and motorists and joggers,” U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks acknowledged earlier this week.
Moran says the changes should help make things safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
“The health and safety of those commuting to work or simply exercising along the Potomac River should never be threatened due to poor infrastructure planning,” the congressman said in a statement. “I am pleased the National Park Service has agreed to put needed fixes into the trails and roads surrounding Memorial Circle. With the scheduled improvements, tourists, commuters, pedestrians, and cyclists will be able to truly share the road.”
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The National Park Service is seeking public input on a series of changes proposed for Gravelly Point and the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, which are located along the George Washington Parkway near Crystal City.
The proposed changes, which have been in the works since 2008, are intended primarily to improve access to Roaches Run and reduce trail use conflicts along the Mount Vernon Trail at Gravelly Point. Other changes will “enhance the visitor experience… and enhance the safety of pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists.”
The proposal includes:
- The addition of a boardwalk/pedestrian trail from the Crystal City pedestrian underpass to Roaches Run
- A removable, floating boat launch at Roaches Run
- Either widening the congested trail area at Gravelly Point or building two separate trails — a “through route” and a “pedestrian route”
- A permanent “waterless restroom” located in the southwest corner of Gravelly Point
- Converting the dusty, over-used field at Gravelly Point into two rotating fields or one permanent field with either reduced use or more intensive turf management
- “Interpretive sites” at Gravelly Point that will include “signage detailing cultural and natural histories of the area”
- Improved landscaping at Gravelly Point that will remove invasive species and “frame parkway views across the Potomac to Washington, D.C. based on historic planting plan”
- Additional safety features along the Mount Vernon Trail where it parallels the GW Parkway near Reagan National Airport. Safety features may include reflective lines, protective barriers, or protective plantings.
The National Park Service will be holding a public meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5 to gather input on the options for the Gravelly Point field and the Mount Vernon Trail safety improvements. The meeting will be held at the Indigo Landing Restaurant on Daingerfield Island, located off of the GW Parkway near Alexandria.
Interested parties can also submit comments via the project website. Comments will be gathered through June 22. There will be another opportunity to comment on the options later this year, after an environmental assessment is released for the project.
Once the environmental assessment is released and final project decisions are made, park planner Thomas Sheffer says it could “take a number of years” until the entire project is complete. The timeline is still very much up in the air, and depends on the project’s ability to receive federal funding. Some work, however, may be completed sooner.
“Smaller actions would be considered for more immediate completion by Parkway work crews,” Sheffer told ARLnow.com.
A bike and pedestrian pathway between the Mt. Vernon Trail and Columbia Island Marina/Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove is now open.
In addition to making Columbia Island safely accessible via the Mt. Vernon Trail, the new underpass allows easier access to the Pentagon’s North Parking Lot. The lot is connected to the LBJ Memorial Grove by an existing wooden pedestrian bridge.
Below are a few photos of the grove and the marina.
Part of the Mt. Vernon Trail is closed between Roosevelt Island and the Humpback Bridge due to flooding.
The Potomac River is now covering a low-lying section of the trail. This afternoon ducks and debris could be seen floating where humans can usually be seen exercising.
The National Park Service has placed “trail closed” signs on either side of the flooded portion, but joggers and bicyclists are simply diverting to a narrow dirt path that runs dangerously close to the northbound GW Parkway, which has been the scene of two serious accidents in the past week.
Flooding along the banks of the Potomac has also forced evacuations in Georgetown and the rescue of a group of Boy Scouts near White’s Ferry. A tipster tells us the rescued Boy Scouts are from Arlington, but so far we’ve been unable to confirm that.
More photos after the jump.
U.S. Park Police have cordoned off the section of the Mt. Vernon Trail that runs through the Roosevelt Island parking lot due to a death investigation.
Preliminary reports suggest the victim committed suicide with a firearm. Right now it’s unclear whether anybody who was on the busy stretch of trail at the time witnessed the shooting.
The deceased individual’s identity has not been released.