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.”
Tysons IT Company to Add 162 Jobs with Expansion — Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday (April 30) that technology security company Ridgeline International, Inc. will invest $1.75 million and create 162 new jobs to expand operations at its headquarters in Tysons. Founded in 2015, Ridgeline started with five employees and now has more than 200 workers with an emphasis on hiring veterans. [Office of the Governor]
I-66 Construction to Close Gallows Road Lanes Overnight — “Gallows Road over I-66 will be reduced to a single travel lane in each direction nightly Monday, May 3, through Saturday, May 8, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The northbound side of Gallows Road will be closed with two-way traffic running on the southbound side.” [VDOT]
Vienna Farmers Market Returns — The Vienna Farmers Market came back this weekend and will be outside the Vienna Community Center from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday until Oct. 30. It is one of dozens of farmers markets that have started opening around Fairfax County this spring. [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Northern Virginia Could Reach Community Immunity This Summer — “A year to the day after Northern Virginia hit its peak number of hospitalizations for COVID-19, the University of Virginia predicted the region could reach community immunity from the virus by June or July…Based on current vaccine acceptance and vaccine update levels, the region could be the first in Virginia to achieve immunity among adults.” [Inside NoVA]
Removal of Asphalt W&OD Trail in Falls Church to Begin — Removal of the existing asphalt Washington and Old Dominion trail and preparation of the new trail’s subsurface is set to begin this week as part of the Dual Trails Project in the City of Falls Church. Sections of the trail will be inaccessible for about four weeks each during work to install new pavement. The project is expected to be completed by August. [Falls Church News-Press]
The Washington and Old Dominion Trail will be shifted slightly south where it passes Idylwood Park in Falls Church starting this Thursday (Jan. 14).
The Virginia Department of Transportation says the temporary realignment will allow crews to construct a new, permanent trail that can accommodate new Interstate 66 ramps as part of its Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project.
Construction will also involve the addition of a retaining wall to support the widening of the I-66 West ramp to I-495 South.
Idylwood Park is at the terminus of the Transform 66 project, which is adding 22 miles of express lanes between I-495 in Falls Church and University Boulevard in Gainesville.
VDOT previously planned to close the affected section of the W&OD Trail from July 27 through early December of last year and offer detours to pedestrians and cyclists, but construction was postponed “for additional project coordination.”
The realignment brings the trail closer to I-66 West and will last approximately five months through June 2021.
“All work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if inclement conditions occur,” VDOT says.
Images via VDOT
Halmar International Moving from Tysons to Baltimore — “Several of the current employees from Tysons Corner are expected to move into the positions in Baltimore.” [Baltimore Business Journal]
W&OD Trail Section in Falls Church Closed — “As of today, the section of trail from Little Falls St to Great Falls St is closed for work related to the dual trails project.” [Twitter]
Local Suicide Prevention Program Launched Fall Fundraiser Tonight — “Spring into fall with PRS by virtually joining us for our rescheduled annual signature benefit, Springtopia – A Season of Hope” [PRSinc.org]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Work is officially underway to revamp the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Falls Church by adding parallel pedestrian and bicycle trails.
The City of Falls Church, NOVA Parks and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) celebrated the start of the project with a groundbreaking earlier today.
The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project aims to separate slow- and fast-moving users by creating an 11-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot-wide path for pedestrians. A 2-foot-wide textured surface will separate the two paths.
The “Dual Trails” portion will include most of the 1.5 miles of the trail in the city, while a separate portion is set to get designed for parts of the W&OD in Arlington, according to a press release.
“The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project is a significant step to encourage non-motorized transportation, increase capacity and reduce congestion for cyclists and pedestrians utilizing the busy pathway,” Erica Hawksworth, an NVTA spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.
Additionally, the project also will promote carbon-free travel and more biodiversity, according to a NOVA Parks sign at the groundbreaking. The press release about the groundbreaking noted that the project will improve stormwater management along the trail.
During a review of the project proposal in December, Falls Church planners said that it fits the city’s vision for separate walking and biking trails.
Hawksworth noted that the project is especially noteworthy because trails have been busier than usual during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Upon completion of the W&OD Trail Enhancements project, trail users will notice reduced congestion, safer conditions and enhanced bike and pedestrian access to the two Metrorail stations within the I-66 corridor,” Hawksworth said.
NVTA provided $3.24 million of regional funding for the project, which is being built by NOVA Parks and the city. Construction is expected to last until June 2021.
“It is fitting that the new Dual Trail enhancements start in the City of Falls Church, as the first section of the trail began here in 1974,” Mayor David Tarter said. “The city is pleased to once again be at the forefront of better and healthier ways to move people.”
— Northern Virginia's Transportation Authority (@NVTAuthority) August 26, 2020
It is so good to be out and about – socially distanced, of course! Today we are celebrating the groundbreaking on the W&OD Trail Enhancements in @FallsChurchGov in partnership w/ the City & @NOVA_Parks! #cyclinglife #northernva pic.twitter.com/dpmsqYSYOt
— Northern Virginia's Transportation Authority (@NVTAuthority) August 26, 2020
Photo courtesy NVTA, map via City of Falls Church
(Updated 2:40 p.m.) Vienna police received a couple of reports last week about assaults along the W&OD Trail.
All of the incidents happened Monday (June 29) on the bike trail. Around 1:40 p.m. near the Vienna Community Center, a woman said a man on a bicycle hit her butt with his hand as he rode by before doing the same thing to a girl riding a bike, according to the police recap.
Police were not able to find the man after searching the area, according to the recap.
Then at 8 p.m., a similar incident happened near the 800 block of Follin Lane SE. “On June 30, a resident reported that the previous night she was walking on the bike trail when an unknown man approached her on a bicycle and struck her on her buttock with his hand,” the police recap said.
Juan Vazquez, the spokesperson for the police department, said it’s too soon to tell if the incidents involved the same man or not. Vazquez declined to offer suspect descriptions from the incidents.
The Town of Vienna celebrated its 100th birthday in 1990 with the ringing of bells and a giant birthday cake — and now its 130th birthday this year, residents are challenged to participate in a virtual race.
Titled “Distance Matters,” the race is inviting all Vienna citizens to walk, run, bike or hike a 130K throughout the month of July. People who complete the 80.8 miles will receive a medal at the end of the month.
People who are interested in participating will receive a log to track their miles over the course of the month. Miles can be achieved by running on a treadmill, cycling around the town or walking down the trail — participants’ choice. Whatever mode of exercise residents choose, the race is an easy way to maintain a feeling of community despite social distancing restrictions.
The town was originally planning a large community event called “Bluez and Brewz” on Saturday, June 20, to commemorate Vienna’s 130th birthday. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the idea was changed to something that people could safely participate in — at a distance.
The celebration had included live blues bands, barbecue trucks and more, according to Natalie Duncan, the town’s teen center program coordinator.
“Upon the realization that we had to cancel Bluez and Brewz, we came up with the idea for the 130K,” said Duncan.
The organizers noticed other jurisdictions holding virtual races and decided it would be a fun way to keep the community participating. “The month of July is Parks and Recreation Month… the 130K is a way of keeping residents engaged and involved.”
Local sports and bike merchants, as well as coffee shops, are promoting the event. While running and biking have always been a staple of Vienna with the Washington and Old Dominion Trail running through town, the pandemic has fueled resident interest in the outdoors, according to Duncan.
“Now with the coronavirus, people are more open to using the trail and running around their neighborhoods,” she said.
In the past, Vienna has drawn major crowds for town events including birthday celebrations, Civil War reenactments and celebrating the new millenium, according to the Vienna Recreation Program Manager Amy-Jo Hendrix.
“Vienna is such a close-knit town,” said Hendrix. “Everyone comes together and enjoys whatever activities we have going. It’s a lot of fun to put these on and see the success that we have and how it brings all the neighbors together.”
Register by June 29 at https://t.co/4fyEAuMvFd for $10. Receive s log to track your progress and a medal at completion.
— Town of Vienna, VA (@TownofViennaVA) June 3, 2020
Northern Virginia is rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as residents are under a “safer at home” recommendation. As the weather continues to warm up and more people head outside, people are finding limited transportation options.
In late May, staff photographer Jay Westcott captured what transportation looks like now in Tysons: cyclists and pedestrians along the W&OD Trail in Vienna and closure signs at the Tysons Corner Metro station.
Westcott spotted a dog named Cora watching her owner Chad exercise in the parking garage at Tysons Corner Center. He photographed Leesburg Pike, almost empty of cars, by the malls and empty parking garages around Tysons.
Let us know how you’ve been getting around Tysons and if the pandemic has impacted your transportation choices by commenting below.
Managing the Money — “Fairfax County is taking prudent steps, from budget cutbacks to carefully spending federal stimulus funds, to help the county weather the COVID-19 pandemic, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay suggested to the McLean Citizen Association (MCA) during the group’s May 21 ‘virtual’ membership meeting.” [Inside NoVa]
NoVa May Reopen Soon — “Elected officials from 10 Northern Virginia jurisdictions sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday saying they’re making preparations to transition the region into phase one of the state’s reopening plan beginning Friday. The officials also asked the governor that Northern Virginia move into the second phase of reopening with the rest of the state.” [Washington Business Journal]
Furloughs at Tysons Software Company — “Cvent Inc. is laying off or furloughing 10% of its global workforce, citing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business with the meetings and hospitality industries… A company spokesman said the move involves about 7% of the company’s staff in Greater Washington.” [Washington Business Journal]
Governor Goes Maskless — “On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam confirmed he planned to announce a statewide mask policy after the Memorial Day holiday. On Saturday, he was filmed in Virginia Beach, maskless and surrounded by people.” [Inside NoVa]
W&OD Trail Serves as Popular Outdoor Pick — “City officials, park administrators and trail users appear to be balancing the safety needs of the trail’s pedestrian and vehicle users with opportunities to enjoy outdoor exercise and a break from being pent up during the Covid-19 pandemic… With residents longing for outdoor exercise, however, numbers have risen.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Vienna police say that a pedestrian was taken to the hospital after being hit by a vehicle on the W&OD Trail in a crosswalk earlier this month.
A man driving eastbound on Church Street hit the pedestrian, who was on heading south on the W&OD Trail, in the crosswalk, according to the town’s crime recap. The incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 7.
“[The pedestrian] was transported to an area hospital by rescue personnel with non-life-threatening injuries,” police said.
Police issued a summons charging the driver with Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian.
Photo via Facebook