Press Club
A slide from a county presentation showing where a trail would connect Arlington View to Army Navy Drive (via Arlington County)

Nearly 30 years in the making, the Army Navy Country Club Trail Connector is closer to becoming a reality.

Construction on the long-proposed trail, a design for which has not yet been finalized, is expected to begin in spring 2024, officials say. Work could be completed the following spring, according to a recent county presentation.

The path for cyclists and pedestrians would run from a point near Hoffman-Boston Elementary and 13th Road S., in the Arlington View neighborhood, to Army Navy Drive near the I-395 overpass and the entrance to the club. It would provide a new way to get from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City.

The county is seeking community feedback on two preliminary concepts for the trail, which can be provided through the project’s website.

Final design will be completed in spring 2023, then there will be another opportunity for public feedback. By winter 2023, a contract should be awarded and an official construction timeline will be released, Project Manager Mark Dennis said.

Two preliminary concepts are being considered. One features high walls and a steep trail, which could cost $11 million. The other is defined by stairs and a runnel, and could cost $5 million.

A slide depicting one Army Navy Country Club connector trail concept under consideration, featuring high walls and a steep trail (via Arlington County)

This first concept includes a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail with a steep, 12% slope centered between retaining walls. The walls would run approximately 16 feet apart, and could be up to 16 feet in height.

Further design of Concept 1 would have to address the transition at Memorial Drive — the connector road leading to the club — where cyclists would have limited visibility to react to vehicular traffic.

Dennis compared the high walls and steep trail concept to the Custis Trail, which also has a 12% slope in some sections, he said.

“Any users out there who have taken the Custis Trail, you know what this feels like, it’s a great workout for those who are up to it,” he said. “It can be a little bit of a challenge for people who are just out for a simple walk or just want to get from A to B and not have such a vigorous bike ride.”

The second concept is a series of stairs and landings to manage the steep slope, and would feature a runnel, or wheel channel, for bicycles that could also accommodate strollers or carts.

A slide showing the concept for the Army Navy Country Club trail that features stairs and a runnel (via Arlington County)

Several people raised concerns about accessibility for both concepts. Neither design features a winding, gradual slope, but the county has to work with what it’s got, Dennis said.

“The country club has very carefully considered our previous requests to expand the easement to grant more easement and they have respectfully declined,” Dennis said. “We are limited by the easement that we have and we have sufficient easement to accommodate concepts like the two I’ve presented.”

Those who have followed the project’s iterations may notice the easement’s shape has changed. After Arlington public safety officials rejected the emergency access road idea that was originally part of the project, the path’s endpoint near Hoffman-Boston shifted from S. Queen Street to the other side of the school, near the tennis and basketball courts, Dennis said.

Dennis said the project won’t be “all things to all people,” but the narrow, steep property will probably draw a “sort of self-selecting group of users,” he said.

“We hope it’ll be accessible for anyone who can climb stairs, we hope to be accessible for anyone who rides most kinds of bikes,” he said. “But we’re going to look at that very carefully in design and try our best to accommodate the broadest range of potential users.”

The project has been discussed since the early 90s and overcome many hurdles, including obtaining an easement from the country club, a resulting lawsuit from club members, the elimination of the emergency service road, and delays due to funding constraints.

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(Updated at 3 p.m.) Tom Jensen has seen a lot on the uphill bike trail that ascends intimidatingly past his house in the Arlingwood neighborhood of Arlington.

In the 11 years he’s lived at the house on N. Randolph Street alongside the county-owned trail that connects with Chain Bridge, Jensen has spotted broken bikes, overheated hikers and lost walkers (as well as confused motorists) all climbing the steep hill that he calls “The Wall.”

Often, when travelers finally make it to the top, they are frustrated, tired and possibly cursing.

“I hear a lot of exclamations,” he tells ARLnow, laughing, on a breezy morning at the hilltop, outside of the home he shares with his wife, teenage son, two dogs and a cat.

So, at the beginning of March, Jensen built a flat stone wall — a bench, essentially — at the top of the hill to help people catch their breath and recoup before going on their way.

“We’ve constructed a new stone wall with a wide flat top at comfortable seating height right next to the trail,” he wrote on Nextdoor in mid-March. “It’s ours, but it’s really yours.”

The post has received nearly 1,000 likes and has received numerous comments of gratitude.

“Your kind gift will give solace to the cyclists like me, wondering where their lowest gear has wandered off to,” wrote one person.

“Thank you!” wrote another. “I’ve heard Marylanders refer to your hill as ‘The Committee to Welcome you to Virginia.'”

Jensen, who previously lived in Cherrydale before moving to Arlingwood in the early 2010s, is not entirely clear why such a steep trail exists here.

He believes it may have to do with a long-time-ago installation of a water pipe that county workers paved over. Much of the neighborhood, including Jensen’s cabin and house, is historic and dates back at least nine decades, so the steep trail wasn’t likely constructed anytime recently. He estimates the grade of the hill to be between 6 and 12%, which is quite steep. (U.S. interstate highways are not allowed to be more than 6% grade.)

Jensen, an attorney who specializes in natural resource law, simply saw a need for a bench and decided to take action.

“It’s remarkable how a very small thing can matter,” he said.

Jensen has ordered a sign to let passers-by know that they are welcome to sit on the bench and — to add to the hospitality — is considering installing a free little library as well as a bike repair station.

“[The hill] can break your bike because you have to put some much force into it to overcome the elevation change,” he says. “You get these poor folks sitting there with their bikes upside down, trying to get their chains out from wherever they got jammed.”

On spring and summer weekends, Jensen estimates that he sees “hundreds” of cyclists and “scores” of walkers and hikers using the paved path. Even on a chilly Friday morning for less than an hour, ARLnow saw a cyclist, a jogger, and a walking group of three all traverse the hill.

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Arlington County is applying for $15 million in federal funding to improve cycling and walking connections around Arlington National Cemetery.

The money would partially fund the construction of a long-proposed Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Wall Trail along Washington Blvd, which would connect Columbia Pike and the Pentagon City area with Memorial Avenue and the Arlington Memorial Bridge into D.C.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to review the application on Saturday.

“The ANC Wall Trail will provide a missing link in the County and regional non-motorized network that will complete a bicycle and pedestrian connection between all three of the County’s major development corridors,” the county says in a report.

Right now, the cemetery is an “effective barrier to demand for non-motorized travel to and across Memorial Bridge,” according to the county, as security concerns after 9/11 led the Department of Defense to prohibit travel through the burial grounds.

The trail would run along the western side of Washington Blvd from Columbia Pike to Memorial Drive. Currently, there is a trail on the other side of Washington Blvd, a highway also known as State Route 27, but it gets dicey near Memorial Circle for pedestrians and cyclists looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C.

Renderings of Arlington National Cemetery expansion and Columbia Pike reconfiguration project (via National Capital Planning Commission)

The Columbia Pike interchange with Washington Blvd is set to be modified as part of the ANC Defense Access Roads Project, which will also move Columbia Pike closer to I-395, realign S. Joyce Street, build a new S. Nash Street connector road, and remove part of Southgate Road.

This work, funded by the federal government and managed by the Federal Highway Administration, will facilitate the addition of 70 acres to the southern portion of the cemetery, making room for 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

Road work is underway, and early next year, road users can expect to be redirected from the Pike to side streets near Pentagon City. The new burial ground could open in late 2025.

New cycling and pedestrian facilities and grading for the connection to the future ANC Wall Trail are also included in the project. Part of its scope includes designing the trail, for which Arlington County agreed to pay $500,000.

The county expects final designs to be developed over the next year or so. The overall cost of the trail is estimated at $25 million.

Once the wall trail is built, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to connect to Pentagon City via S. Joyce Street at the southern end of the ANC Wall Trail. It will allow safer bike and pedestrian travel between Pentagon City and Columbia Pike to D.C. and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

North of Memorial Avenue, cyclists and pedestrians would be able to link up to the existing trail alongside Route 110, which provides a connection to the Iwo Jima Memorial, to Rosslyn, and to the larger network of bicycle and pedestrian trails along the R-B corridor, the county says.

The $15 million, if awarded, would come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE) program, which has $1.5 billion earmarked to reimburse localities for surface transportation projects.

The Transportation Department caps awards at $25 million, and one state can receive no more than $225 million. Awards must be split evenly between urban and rural areas.

There is a “low likelihood of a funding award compared with other external transportation capital funding programs,” the county report notes.

Arlington applied last year and was denied funding — along with every other application from Virginia, according to the report. Staff will be meeting with federal transportation staff to understand why and plan to use that information for the new application.

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A new bridge in Glencarlyn Park (courtesy Dennis Dimick)

Update at 4 p.m. on 3/15/22 — President Joe Biden has signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill with funding for three projects in Arlington. 

In the 10 months it took for the funding to pass, Arlington County substantially completed two of the projects: repaving parts of the Bluemont Junction Trail and replacing a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park.

The county moved forward with them in the interim due to safety concerns and the uncertain nature of federal funding, Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow on Tuesday.

The funding will pay for any remaining work and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is considering how to repurpose any unspent funds on similar projects, she said. 

Earlier: A $1.5 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress on Friday has funding for three projects in Arlington.

The bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine’s fight against Russia and will fund the federal government through September, avoiding an impending government shutdown. Now the 2,741-page bill is headed to the desk of President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it this week.

The bill also sends Arlington County more than $1.4 million to pay for a health initiative and two parks projects, for which Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) requested federal assistance last May. In total, the spending package has $5.4 million earmarked for 10 projects in Northern Virginia, at Beyer’s request.

“This funding will translate to significant, beneficial projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County,” he said in a statement on Friday. “I am thankful to my colleagues who enacted the legislation to fund these initiatives, and to the local leaders who worked with me to identify and develop the initial requests. These projects will make a real, positive difference in our region.”

Arlington County’s Department of Human Services is getting $390,000 to purchase two medically equipped vehicles for a forthcoming mobile crisis response team. While not yet in existence, the team will be responsible for responding to behavioral health crises and providing on-site treatment.

The team was a recommendation of the Police Practices Group, which identified about 100 ways policing could be reformed in Arlington, including some ways the county could remove police officers from its mental health crisis response.

The county earmarked $574,000 in the current budget to staff the team with a physician’s assistant, nurse and clinician, and to buy a transport van and operating supplies.

DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick says the vehicles will be purchased once the County Board officially accepts and allocates the federal funding, which will take a couple of months. The mobile crisis response team, meanwhile, is “not up and running yet,” he said.

“County residents do have access to Community Regional Crisis Response services, however, which is a mobile crisis response,” he said. “And our Emergency Services staff can and do go into the community when need arises and staffing allows.”

The county will receive $325,000 to fund repaving and repairs for a segment of the Bluemont Junction Trail and adjacent connector paths. A 2018 trails assessment determined the Bluemont Junction Trail needed significant investments, as the condition of the asphalt is deteriorating in many sections.

The section paid for by the federal government spans the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and Wilson Blvd to the intersection of the trail with the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.

This project is divided into two phases, according to the county. The first phase, completed late last year, updated the main trail and most of its connecting paths. The second phase will update three remaining trail connectors, which need to be realigned to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase two construction is expected to begin and end this spring and early summer.

Arlington budgeted $550,000 in its 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan for the project.

The county will also receive $800,000 for the replacement of a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. The bridge, lost during the July 2019 flash flooding, was recently installed. The project was part of the adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan.

Outside of Arlington, local earmarks in the bill will support storm sewer and climate resilience improvements in the City of Alexandria and Falls Church City and improve information technology services in Fairfax County. It will also support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras in the Alexandria Police Department and safety improvements to the GW Parkway.

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Morning Notes

A group of birds sits on power lines along Langston Blvd (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Local Leaders Push for More Boosters — “A good number of Arlington residents seem to be turning a blind eye and/or deaf ear to governmental drumbeats for COVID booster shots. Only one in three adults in the county has receive the extra shots, County Manager Mark Schwartz told County Board members on Jan. 25. ‘We need to do better,’ the manager said.” [Sun Gazette]

New Trail Proposed — From Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt: “Kenmore Middle School and Carlin Springs Elementary school have a sustainable access problem… One project that could start improving this situation is what Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County calls the ‘Kenmore Connector Trail’ — a walking & biking trail on the west side of Carlin Springs Road that could connect Kenmore & Carlin Springs across Arlington Blvd to the W&OD Trail.” [Chris Slatt]

APS Trying Out New Menu Items — “Despite ongoing concerns about supply-chain problems, the Arlington school system is getting creative in providing new meal options for students. New on the menu for the winter cycle are fruit smoothies for breakfast and spinach-and-chicken empanadas, chicken-and-vegetable dumplings and cheesy chicken pasta for lunch.” [Sun Gazette]

New ATMs at DCA — From Reagan National Airport: “We are in the process of transitioning to a new ATM provider and all ATMs have been removed from the airport. We are working with the new provider to install new ATMs as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience during this transition!” [Twitter]

Early Closure for ANC — “Due to incoming inclement weather, Arlington National Cemetery will close early on Friday, January 28, at 3 pm and will have a delayed opening on Saturday, January 29, until 10 am. Funeral services will not be impacted and will continue as scheduled.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — On today’s snow threat: “Evening computer models have bumped up snowfall totals in the immediate area and now suggest 1 to 3 inches may be more likely than a coating to 2 inches. Of particular note, they suggest we may have a period of steadier snow around the Friday evening commute as temperatures fall back toward freezing. This could mean slick roads. You may want to think about coming home early (by 3 or 4 p.m.) on Friday or working at home if possible.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Hanukkah Safety Reminders — “Happy Hanukkah from the ACFD. During this special time, please remember a few safety tips. 1 – Battery powered candles are a safer choice to open-flame candles. 2 – Never leave lit candles unattended. 3 – Keep lit candles away from items that can easily catch fire.” [Twitter]

Trail Detours Start Tomorrow — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Wednesday – Friday: Expect marked detours along Lucky Run Trail due to maintenance work, weather-permitting.” [Twitter]

Road Closures for 5K Race — “The Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk for Arthritis will be held on Saturday, December 4, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closure from approximately 6:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. to accommodate the event: S. Joyce Street, between 15th Street S. and Army Navy Drive.” [ACPD]

Drama at Rosslyn-Based Politico — “Politico is known for its wildly popular Playbook newsletter, its vast reporting talent pool, and its success as the most widely recognized Beltway-centric publication. But behind the flashy exterior, billion-dollar sale, and massive draw of their star reporters lies a series of burgeoning newsroom conflicts. From personnel issues, including complaints about internal ‘woke police,’ to a divisive unionization drive, to increasing competition in the profitable D.C. newsletter space, tensions appear to be growing.” [Daily Beast]

Mild Start to December on Tap — “NOAA’s 6-10 [day], 8-14 [day] and 3-4 [week] outlooks all toasty for large parts of the Lower 48. Not a great look for big winter storms or sustained cold although confidence in mild pattern decreases by mid-December.” [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Spotted This Morning: FlurriesUpdated at 8:50 a.m. — We spotted very light snow falling in North Arlington around 8 a.m. today. The local National Weather Service office says these were the first flakes of the season and more flurries are possible this morning. [Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Today will be partly sunny, with a high near 49. South wind 6 to 8 mph. Sunrise at 7:07 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. Tomorrow there is a chance of showers after 1 p.m., but otherwise it will be partly sunny, with a high near 50. [Weather.gov]

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A newly-reopened segment of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail in Falls Church boasts a feature that could be replicated in Arlington: separate paths for cyclists and those on foot.

Regional parks authority NOVA Parks widened just over one mile of the trail through the Little City in order to accommodate separate tracks. The organization celebrated the completion of the five-year, $3.7 million project this morning.

The parks authority says something similar should be done along the Arlington segment, which has seen an increased number of pedestrians, leisure riders and commuters competing for the same narrow asphalt strip.

“Our focus was getting Falls Church completed, since we had all the funds and city approval lined up for that,” NOVA Parks Director Paul Gilbert said. “The next step will be to see when we can get the Arlington section done — when we have design work done and we can talk to civic groups.”

Two years ago, the organization signaled its intent to widen the two-mile stretch between N. Roosevelt Street and N. Carlin Springs Road and incorporate separated trails. Work is contingent, however, on when a $5.6 million grant from the Northern Virginia Transit Authority becomes available.

That likely won’t happen until 2024, but having the Falls Church segment done helps the process in Arlington, he says.

“It’s not a theoretical,” he said. “Everyone can experience it, see it, understand how it works.”

Among those trying it out was local cycling advocate Gillian Burgess, who hit the trails this past weekend, ahead of the official opening today.

She says she wants to see similar mode-separated trails for the entire length of the W&OD in Arlington, as well as the Mt. Vernon Trail, the Bluemont Trail and parts of the Custis and Four Mile Run trails.

Gilbert says widening large sections of the Arlington W&OD Trail is “feasible, desirable and necessary.”

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A 1,300-mile network of trails that connects Arlington to the two other sites of the Sept. 11 terror attacks could be granted federal designation next month.

Initially founded in the weeks after the attacks, the expansive September 11th National Memorial Trail, which runs through six states and D.C., has yet to be fully completed.

Federal designation would give the network of trails name-recognition and help the nonprofit alliance administering the trail fund its completion in the coming decades, proponents say.

A bill advocating for federal designation, put forward and sponsored by Northern Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer, respectively, is with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last week.

If approved by the Senate, locals riding on the Mount Vernon Trail — which is part of the 9/11 Memorial Trail — or near Arlington National Cemetery may see new, standardized signage within the next year heralding the “September 11th National Memorial Trail Route,” according to Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, which administers the trail.

“The designation will help in our visibility of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail and will enhance our partnership with the National Parks Service,” the trail’s founder, David Brickley, tells ARLnow. “It’ll enhance the experience of the visitor and assure that that story of what happened on 9/11 are not forgotten.”

Brickley, a Virginian, says the move will be at little to no cost for local municipalities or the taxpayer. Outside of consistent signage across the six states and D.C., other practical implications — such as new construction — have yet to be teased out, according to Beyer’s team.

The trail route from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania will be administered by the National Park Service. Brickley said maintenance will remain the responsibility of the trail’s alliance.

Still, the connection to NPS will help, as much of the trail runs through national park land, he said.

To make sure the trail isn’t too much of a burden to municipalities, Baxter said the trail alliance works with local community foundations to maintain individual sections.

In Arlington, “we are in discussions with several community foundations, but one has yet to be selected,” he said.

As for whether designation will bring long-term projects down the road, Beyer’s spokesman Aaron Fritschner said “we don’t know yet.”

“The first step is to get the federal designation, which is what Rep. Connolly’s bill does, and which would create a federal status so the 9/11 Memorial Trail remains protected by federal law along its full length, some of which runs through jurisdictions where you might have less certainty about it remaining protected without a federal designation than you would expect in a place like Arlington.”

About 51% of the 1,300-mile trail is designated for off road multi-use trails, meaning another 49% is not built up or runs through land that could one day be developed, Baxter said. Finishing the trail involves securing property, writing grants and working with local partners.

“It’s going to take a long time, probably decades, to get it all the way complete,” he said.

Designation will make the trail more competitive when applying for state, federal and private grants for building the trails and maintaining them, he said.

With federal designation possibly coming soon, Brickley thanked Beyer and Connolly for their support.

“Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer have been tremendous friends to the trail and the alliance,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for better congressmen helping with this project.”

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The bridge over Four Mile Run near Glencarlyn Park is closed (via Gillian Burgess/Twitter)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Two years ago, torrential rain caused massive flash flooding in Arlington that washed away six pedestrian bridges.

Fast forward to today and two of the bridges that suffered the worst damage in the July 2019 storm — at Glencarlyn and Lubber Run parks — are set be replaced over the next year, and should be ready by the summer and fall of 2022, respectively.

The work is a long time in coming for cyclists and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which has been asking for regular updates since the flooding. Cycling advocate and former BAC President Gillian Burgess said while roads were quickly repaired for travel, cyclists missing the Glencarlyn bridge have spent the last two years taking long detours or wading through shallow portions of Four Mile Run to reach the other side.

“It’s still not clear to me why all these steps take so much longer for a pedestrian bridge than they would for a street,” Burgess said. She added that of all the bridges destroyed, the Glencarlyn bridge near 301 S. Harrison Street “is by far the most important bridge for connectivity.”

That’s because the bridge provides the most direct access to the Long Branch Nature Center from the W&OD Trail, she said. It also provides cyclists a crossing to get to the Lubber Run trails to the north.

A parks department spokeswoman said the county prioritizes projects based on factors like use and need.

“The County repairs and replaces pedestrian bridges within its park system using a systematic approach, strategically repairing or replacing the most heavily used or most heavily deteriorated bridges until the point is reached that all bridges are in good repair,” Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said.

According to Burgess, the department has cited finding funding and navigating the permitting and review processes as sources of delays between 2019 and 2021.

Kalish said progress is being made on two bridges, funding for which was included in the county’s 2022-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.

“The County is currently designing a new bridge to replace the one damaged near the dog park at Glencarlyn Park,” she said. The new bridge, in the same location as the last bridge, should be completed by summer 2022, she said.

Location of the pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run (via Google Maps)  

For now, conditions are sub-optimal for trail users, Burgess said. The current detour adds about 20-30 minutes to those on foot. For cyclists, the problem with the detour is not necessarily the added time, but the fact that it’s along a trail that is badly paved with steep sections.

Most cyclists opt to descend into the stream and wade across at one of two fords to the north and south of the bridge. To the north, cyclists ascend near picnic shelters, where the trail is sometimes blocked by park cars. But the biggest problem for crossing via the north or south ford is the terrain.

“It’s a steep hill down and a steep hill up,” Burgess said. As for the trail itself, she said, “I don’t bike with kids on it. When I’m by myself, I worry about the bike not making it because of the blind curves and lots of hills.”

Cyclist and nearby resident Amanda Lowenberger said that for her and her family, “this is nothing more than a daily inconvenience, but one we can afford.”

She said she doesn’t mind occasionally wading through the stream but would like the bridge re-built soon.

“I do volunteer stream water monitoring for the county, and I have a 9-year-old who likes to splash around in the water, so I end up in the stream on a regular basis,” she said. “But still, it would be great to have that bridge as an option again.”

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Arlington County has taken another step toward developing a county-owned and maintained waterfront park in Potomac Yard.

On Saturday, the County Board approved an agreement with the Arlington Potomac Yard Community Association to accept a gift of three parcels of land within the boundaries of Short Bridge Park. The park is located across Four Mile Run from the Potomac Yard shopping center, along Route 1.

The property “is used by the public as an open space but is privately owned and maintained,” according to a staff report. “[It] has concrete paths, landscaping, a public ‘tot lot,’ open grass, trees, and irrigation.”

Since 2015, the county has had a public access easement over the property, the report said. When the land is turned over to the county, it will cost about $44,000 to maintain annually.

Acquiring the land gets Arlington closer to turning Short Bridge Park into a county park. Although the 3.5-acre open space was created through the Potomac Yard Phased Development Site Plan, adopted in 2000, it remained privately owned by the association and the Eclipse on Center Park condominiums.

That process includes two phases of construction to realizing the vision of the Short Bridge Park Master Plan, adopted by the County Board in January 2018.

(That was also when the name changed from its informal moniker, South Park.)

The existing park amenities were constructed by a developer.

“These improvements were intended as interim improvements until Arlington County funds were available to develop a Park Master Plan and implement permanent park improvements,” the master plan said. “The developer-constructed improvements are minimal and lack typical County park amenities such as trash cans, seating, signage, and Americans with Disabilities Act accessible pathways.”

It will take a few years, however, before the master plan’s vision for the park is implemented.

“The first phase includes a trail connection that links Richmond Highway to the Four Mile Run trail and is estimated to begin construction in late 2021,” a county staff report said.

The trail project is funded through a federal grant and 20% county match, according to the report.

“The second phase of the park master plan will construct the rest of the park and is dependent on Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds,” the report said.

As of now, the adopted CIP plan — which schedules out county projects through 2028 — identified construction funding for phase two “in the out-years” or the 2023-24 fiscal year, the county said.

According to the master plan, this phase includes a dog run, a riverfront overlook and an “interpretive plaza.”

Image via Arlington County

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(Updated 03/11/22) Rep. Don Beyer announced yesterday that he has requested federal funds to go toward a health initiative and two parks projects in Arlington County.

If approved, the funding would fund repaving a section of the Bluemont Junction Trail and repairing replacing a key pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. It would also purchase vehicles needed by a mobile response team that would respond to behavioral health crises rather than police.

The money would come from the Fiscal Year 2022 Community Project Funding Program, which provides targeted funding for local projects nationwide. Representatives were able to submit requests for up to 10 projects but there is no guarantee of approval. Beyer also requested money for projects benefiting the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Fairfax County.

“The infrastructure requests would enhance pedestrian routes in the region, support [electric vehicles] and other environmentally friendly initiatives, fund mental health resources, and support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras for the Alexandria Police Department,” Beyer said. “These are worthy projects deserving of federal funding.”

For the Bluemont Junction Trail, Beyer requested $325,000 to repave a segment of the trail and adjacent connector paths, improvements that the county identified during a 2018 trails assessment.

“The current trail pavement and connectors are in deteriorating condition with limited or poor access from adjacent and intersecting streets,” the announcement said.

Separately, the county is using capital funding to improve where the trail intersects with N. Kensington Street, N. Emerson Street and N. Buchanan Street.

Beyer requested $800,000 to replace the Glencarlyn Park pedestrian bridge lost during the July 2019 flash flooding. The Glencarlyn bridge was also included in Arlington’s adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan(This article incorrectly said the Lubber Run bridge had been replaced. At the time, funding had been secured for its replacement. The project to replace one of the park’s two destroyed bridges is now in its design phase.) 

“Of the six pedestrian bridges lost in the flooding event, the most important one for connectivity is the bridge in Glencarlyn Park,” Beyer’s announcement said. “This bridge connects the main park area, dog exercise area and neighboring communities to the west of Four Mile Run to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The bridge connection is important as both a commuter connection and for recreation and leisure walks on the W&OD Trail.”

On behalf of Arlington County, Beyer requested $390,000 to purchase two medically-equipped vehicles to be used by a team tasked with responding to mental health crises. Arlington’s Police Practices Group recently recommended that the county transition from dispatching police to such incidents to sending out a specialized mobile crisis response unit.

“The requested funds will support a ‘Help not Handcuffs’ approach to ensure that persons in behavioral health crises receive the most appropriate assistance needed when and where they need it,” Beyer’s announcement said. “A behavioral health response vs. a law enforcement response will increase community-based mental health care, decrease emergency department use, reduce inpatient admissions, divert from the criminal justice system and supports racial justice.”

In its lengthy report, the Police Practices Group also recommended procuring specialized vehicles or retrofitting existing ones for the mobile crisis unit.

The vehicles would supplement $574,000 in the county’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget to support an enhanced mental health crisis response program in the Department of Human Services. That allocation would fund a physician’s assistant, nurse, clinician, transport van and operating supplies.

Photo via Flickr pool user Tom Mockler

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