Board to Approve Four Mile Run-Potomac Yard Trail Connection

by ARLnow.com November 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm 9,297 37 Comments

Users of the Four Mile Run Trail will be able to connect directly, and safely, with Potomac Yard within a few years.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to approve an agreement with VDOT to design a trail connector from the Four Mile Run Trail to Potomac Avenue in Arlington. Potomac Avenue runs from Crystal City to the shops and new residential developments in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria.

Currently, the Four Mile Run Trail connects with the west side of Route 1. One would then have to cross the busy thoroughfare to get to Potomac Yard. A steep, informal dirt path that connects directly from the trail to Potomac Avenue also exists, but can be difficult to climb.

County officials say the new trail connection will be accessible to those with disabilities.

“The trail connection will provide an ADA compliant multi-use trail connection between the Potomac Yard development on the north side of Four Mile Run (Arlington County) and the Four Mile Run Trail which is also on the north side of Four Mile Run (Arlington County),” wrote Shannon Whalen McDaniel, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services. “The new trail connection will replace a informal dirt pathway (goat path) that currently exists along the steep embankment between Potomac Yard and the Four Mile Run Trail.”

The design and engineering for the new trail connection is projected to cost $250,000. Of that, $190,000 will come from federal funds and $60,000 will come from Arlington County. The actual construction of the trail connector hasn’t been funded yet, but is expected to be complete no later than 2016. No construction date has been set.

Image via Google Maps

  • RJ

    Yup that looks like a 3 year project to me.

    • Not Me

      Hey, it’s still in the running beat out the bus stop on the Pike and Walter Reed Dr..

      It’s soooo futuristic it actually takes place in the FUTURE….

      It’s just nobody knows when the [email protected]#^!

    • Allen Muchnick

      Yes, a 3-year project to design the trail, then a 10- to 15-year project to actually fund it and get it built.

  • Woah

    I must be in the wrong business. How does it cost $250,000 to design a piece of pavement that is less than 1/4 mile that is meant for people to walk and ride a bike on?

    • drax

      Yes, you are in the wrong business.

    • Mary-Austin

      I was just thinking the same thing.

      • Eric

        You know, the rule of thumb used to be that design fees usually came in around 10% of the construction cost. That has slipped a lot in the past couple of decades, where designers typically get less, maybe anywhere from 4% to 8%.

        So that would lead to a possible construction cost in the $3.5 and $3 million range. Which frankly, because this is government work, sounds pretty low.

        • government work

          = 1 working 5 posting on Arlnow

    • Mark P.

      It will not be just a piece of pavement. Given the steep incline over short distance, and the fact that it will need to be ADA accessible (no more than 1:12 grade), means that there will be a crazy concrete switchback structure built there. $250K is not unreasonable for this type of work.

      • Tom Lang

        Dependi;ng on the rise/run cork screw or long ramp as on Rt.50 from Willston Apts / Condos to 7 Corners shopping center.

      • drax

        Facts are frowned upon here, Mark.

      • Michael H.


  • WeiQiang

    I was wondering why it had to be ADA compliant and then I saw how long it would take to complete. I, for one, will be rolling my wheelchair up the connector by the time it is finished.

    • Big E

      Ha ha.

      What a great comment!
      Arlington tends to do everything really well….. but in 5 years.

      • drax

        The county probably has to do the plans, then submit them for the money or something. This takes time, because you don’t want spending tax money to be quick and easy.

  • Vertigo

    Heck of a picture by KP!

  • ArLater

    Pay me lunch, money to cover supplies at home depot and I can get this done this weekend. Not until 2016 and a quarter mil?! What a joke.

    • drax

      Don’t be ridiculous.

    • Corine

      My thought too – that’s why I dug and cut (one pair of clippers from HD, a borrowed rake and a spade) to cut a bypass right there to avoid the steepest, rockiest part. Learned I can’t touch the heavy-duty chain link over the rocks near the trail (protected by Corps of Eng agreement). Got over 100 signatures of support from users to support some kind of improved path there. Took just a couple of hours on a few free weekends and made lots of new friends. Others contributed mulch to cover (no cost). Where’s my $250,00? But the grade is not gentle enough, I measured it, for ADA compliance, but it’s a help for walkers.

  • Squirvinia Quare

    So its $250,000 just to design, not including actual cost of construction? That seems a bit ridiculous.

    • Not Me

      Federal funds baby! Arlington sure is a good steward of THE PEOPLE’S money!

  • TJLinBallston

    The County understands the future foot-print and heavy use of the connector requires considerable engineering and construction plans. Considering that tacky town houses just up the floodplain cost one million or more, the cost of a permanent link isn’t out of the ballpark at all.

  • Arlingtonian

    This is a gross misuse of taxpayer money by the County’s elected officials, as recommended by the County’s unelected County manager and planning staff.

    The Arlington County government needs to require a developer of one or more buildings on an adjacent property to pay for the connector trail, perhaps with an offer of bonus density.

  • CourthouseChris

    What do those bridges that appear to only have dirt/grass on them do?

    • Arlingtron

      Those bridges used to carry railroad tracks that were part of the large rail yard the spanned Four Mile Run. Not sure what they will be purposed for now. Street car anyone? How about an open air arts center?

      • arlcyclist

        At least one of them will eventually come down according to the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan… “One of the decisions required as part of the master planning process concerned whether or not to retain two abandoned railroad bridges in the vicinity of Potomac yard. Options included retaining both bridges, removing both bridges or removing one of the bridges. After analyzing these options, the JTF and ACG agreed that removing the westernmost bridge and retaining the easternmost provided the most desirable outcome. Key advantages of this option included maximizing visibility from U.S. Route 1, opening up a portion of the stream to sunlight (thus enabling an additional wetland bar in this location), and retaining one bridge as a future public open space above
        Four Mile Run.”

        See page 28 of the Master Plan… http://www.novaregion.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=116

        • CourthouseChris

          Interesting! Thanks everyone!

      • Michael H.

        The railroad tracks carried trains to and through the former Potomac Yard rail yard, one of the busiest rail yards on the East Coast in previous decades. That’s where the Potomac Yard name comes from. (There is no “s” at the end of “Yard”.)

    • Michael H.

      The long-term plans are to demolish one of the bridges and convert another one into a park-like area. But permits haven’t been issued and specific plans haven’t been drawn up yet. It could be a very long time before those general plans are carried out.

    • Arl Co Constructors

      It is fake mud….see Columbia Pike.

  • Arlingtron

    Perhaps this connection will bring customers to that development. Three restaurant/bars have come and gone in a short time. If trail users could access that establishment easily they may have had more customers.

  • Michael H.

    FYI: The dirt path marked on the map and much of the grassy area on the NORTH side of Four Mile Run just to the west of Potomac Avenue is actually in Alexandria, not Arlington. Most maps mark the border incorrectly.

    The border is not a straight line that follows the northern edge of Four Mile Run. Instead, the border loops up almost to the driveway of the Eclipse Condominium development before curving back down to Four Mile Run, somewhere in between the old bridges. Some of the proposals for Four Mile Run restoration and the plans for the FMR Trail connector show the Arlington-Alexandria border correctly.

    • Michael H.

      This 2010 proposal from the City of Alexandria shows the exact border between Arlington and Alexandria:


      The pages numbered 1, 3, 9 and others indicate how the border curves up onto the north bank of Four Mile Run and then curves back down to the south.

      • Kolohe

        The follow-up question is then: why the weird sinusoidial boundary right there? Something to do with the old rail yard? Different hydrology before the 4 mile run flood control work in the 60’s? Virginia state officials taking advantage of the Prohibition repeal when the Arl/Alex border was drawn in the 30’s?

        • Chris Slatt

          The border between Arlington & Alexandria follows the flow of Four Mile Run from before it was channelized by the Army Corp of Engineers.

  • Arl Co Constructors

    All of you have left out the feasibility study to check whether this would be a good place to put a trolley in ….. I am sure that cost a pretty penny !!

  • ShirlingtonBF

    Jeezus 3 year and $250K+?! That is a lot of kool-aid……..


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