Vienna seeks funds to upgrade trail by ballfields, replace Freeman Store bridge

The existing Locust Street Trail pedestrian bridge in Vienna

The Town of Vienna wants to give bicyclists access to a paved path that currently lets pedestrians cut past the Waters and Caffi ballfields behind the community center.

The Locust Street Trail improvement project would replace the narrow existing path with an 8-foot-wide, asphalt shared-use path from Center Street to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, the Department of Public Works told the Vienna Town Council on Monday (Oct. 25).

Town staff pitched the project as part of a request to apply for more than $900,000 in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives program, which gives grants to local projects involving non-motorized travel and infrastructure improvements.

The town council unanimously approved the request, which included $766,439 for the Locust Street Trail project.

“I fully support this project,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said. “It’s another important bike path in our town, which will allow people like me who go to the W&OD to turn right and get to Town Hall. Maybe I won’t drive so often.”

While this is the first time the project has been brought forward for possible funding, the Locust Street Trail improvements were recommended in the Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study that was completed in fall 2019.

The Maple Avenue Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Land Use Study recommended improving and potentially extending the Locust Street Trail (via Town of Vienna)

The study said improving the path would give pedestrians and cyclists “a viable parallel alternative” to Maple Avenue and increased access to the W&OD Trail.

The study suggests extending the trail to Park Street at the mini traffic roundabout with Locust Street East, but that would require the town to acquire access to privately owned land, Director of Public Works Michael Gallagher says.

In addition to widening the path, the project calls for replacing the existing pedestrian bridge to the W&OD and addressing drainage issues. Right now, standing water renders the path unusable after a typical rainstorm, according to town staff.

The Freeman Store Bridge

The public works department is also reapplying for $155,772 from VDOT to construct a new pedestrian bridge to link the Freeman Store & Museum with the W&OD Trail.

That project has been in the works for five years now after water issues and general deterioration forced Vienna to remove the existing wooden bridge in 2016. The new bridge will be 52.5 feet long and consist of steel and timber, according to engineering plans.

According to Gallagher, the town is now seeking construction contractor bids for a third time. An initial solicitation received no responses, and during the second round, material costs, particularly for lumber, pushed the project over budget.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll get some good bids” this time, Gallagher said.

Vienna already has the Freeman Store bridge funding, but with the money set to expire this month, the town has to reapply to extend the deadline.

Staff initially planned to also request an extension of its VDOT funding for a project to complete the sidewalk on Park Street NE, but that was no longer necessary after they “just received word that that [deadline has] been administratively extended,” Gallagher said.

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