Arlington residents have until the end of this month to tell the county what improvements they want to see on a portion of Arlington Boulevard Trail.
The community engagement portion of the Arlington Boulevard Trail Study, which looks to improve the trail between N. Jackson Street and N. George Mason Drive, started last week with an online kick-off meeting.
The study aims to “develop design concepts for improving existing sections of the trail” by increasing accessibility in compliance with federal law, widening the trail to at least 10 feet, removing barriers along the trail and providing direct path access where it is feasible, among other things, study manager Bridget Obikoya said.
“This is the time to talk about the things that you might like to see in the project corridor, not just changes to existing facilities, but also new connections,” county spokesperson Nate Graham said. “This is the wish list process.”
The public engagement form is open online through this coming Thursday, June 30, according to the study’s website. Respondents can leave their suggestions and comments on an interactive map of the trail being studied, Obikoya said.
There have been a total of 29 crashes along this portion of Arlington Blvd (Route 50) between 2018 and 2021, which makes it a part of the “High-Injury Network” in the county, according to a road safety audit.
“The High-Injury Networks are 7% of the 550 miles [of Arlington roadways], yet 78% of auto crashes happened on these networks,” she said.
Obikoya pointed out different problems — such as slow drainage, narrow trails and difficult crossings — along the 1.3 miles of trail, which was divided into seven segments in the study.
Other areas that could be improved include enhancing the crossings of highway ramps and building contra-flow facilities like bike lanes that allow cyclists to ride in the opposite direction of vehicle traffic on one-way service roads along the trail, according to the 2019 Master Transportation Plan — Bicycle Element.
There should also be more infrastructure to minimize conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians along the trail, while segments with serious traffic congestion should be widened or bypassed, according to the 2011 Master Transportation Plan’s Pedestrian Element.
Audience members at the meeting raised various questions after Obikoya’s presentation. One gave several suggestions, including the addition of sidewalks on the southern Arlington Blvd service road, while noting that cyclists are not able to see pedestrians when cycling on the on-ramp near the Goodwill on S. Glebe Road.
The County Board allocated $200,000 to the study in the board’s fiscal year 2022-24 Capital Improvement Plan.
A community design workshop is scheduled for the fall and the draft report for the study is set to be published at some point this winter, according to the presentation.
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