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Separate paths on W&OD Trail for cyclists and pedestrians unveiled in Falls Church

Cyclists, runners, and walkers alike can rejoice as improvements to the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail in Falls Church are complete.

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks), City of Falls Church, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), and Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday (Thursday) to unveil separated paths for bicyclists and pedestrians along a renovated section of the 45-mile-long W&OD Trail.

“This is a commitment to the health and safety of our residents and the environment, and it’s a commitment to the future,” City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter said.

As a part of the W&OD Trail Enhancements Project, dual trails were created along the nearly 1.5 miles of trail from Little Falls Street to North West Street in Falls Church. The objective of the dual trails project is to reduce congestion on the roadways and give cyclists and pedestrians access to two Metrorail stations.

The altered section of trail features an 11-foot-wide path for cycling, an 8-foot-wide path for walkers, and a 2-foot-wide colored and textured median between the two paths to separate trail users traveling at different speeds.

“Today, the W&OD is raising the bar on what a safe, accessible and fun trail looks like,” said Kristin Frontiera, interim executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. “This trail widening is making the W&OD more accessible to more people who will feel welcome and excited to use this trail.”

NVTA, which manages planning, prioritization, and funding for regional transportation projects awarded NOVA Parks more than $3.24 million in regional revenues for the trail enhancements. Contruction on the project launched with a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 26, 2020.

“Today, we celebrate what will soon be recognized as nationally important technology in the construction of this dual lane system that carries our citizens, whether on bicycle or by foot, safely to their destination,” NOVA Parks Chair Cate Magennis Wyatt said. “But what may not be apparent to the eye is the very innovative, thoughtful integration of new and cutting-edge technology that has been integrated into this system.”

In addition to the enhancement of the paved dual trails, officials celebrated the project for its environmentally sustainable design.

The trail now includes several features intended to reduce its environmental impact, such as shallow channels designed to store or convey runoff while removing pollutants. Other features include French drains, pervious pavement areas, and modular wetlands to filter rainwater.

“While we appropriately celebrate this project this morning, let us dedicate to the challenge of pursuing a vision and the performance to make it a reality that, in the words of Bobby Kennedy, does not simply ask ‘why,’ but asks ‘why not,'” Falls Church City Councilmember and NVTA Vice Chair David Snyder said. “And let us commit that in all our endeavors we will work to improve the sustainability, service, and safety for the benefit of all our citizens.”

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