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Potomac Heritage Trails Workshop--May 4, 2011
Overview
  • On May 4, 2011, NVRC, with support from Supervisor Frank Principi’s Office and the National Park Service, organized a workshop at Belmont Bay, the site of a Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail segment near the mouth of the scenic Occoquan River
  • Participants reviewed the national significance, regional context and value of the Trail network and discussed and identified specific actions to eliminate gaps in the Trail network
  • Attendance included Trail segment volunteers, public agency planners, elected officials, and staff of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Department of Transportation
  • The workshop followed recognition by the Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance that identified the Trail network between Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens and Prince William Forest Park as a regional conservation priority

Introduction
  • Over the past 15 years, communities in Northern Virginia have invested in the development of trails, bicycling routes and related facilities
  • The concept of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail has been a valuable tool for coordination, for making connections, and for increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation, transportation, conservation and heritage tourism
  • Based on a recent corridor analysis, two-thirds of an approximately 159 miles of a continuous trail network in Northern Virginia are complete
  • The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), with support from the National Capital Region, National Park Service (NPS) and the office of Prince William County Supervisor, Frank Principi, organized a workshop at Belmont Bay, the site of a Trail segment near the mouth of the scenic Occoquan River
  • Participants reviewed the national significance, regional context and value of the Trail network and, in three smaller groups, discussed and identified specific actions to eliminate gaps in the Trail network with the most scenic corridors
  • Attendance included Trail segment volunteers, public agency planners, elected officials, and staff of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)
  • The workshop followed recognition by the Washington Sustainable Growth Alliance one week earlier that identified the Trail network between Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens and Prince William Forest Park as a regional conservation priority, “offering the most promise to preserve working open space, parkland, natural areas; promote green infrastructure; and benefit the natural environment.”

Speakers

  • G. Mark Gibb, Executive Director, NVRC
  • The Honorable Frank J. Principi, Woodbridge District Supervisor, Prince William County
  • Don Briggs, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Office, NPS
  • Jennifer Wampler, Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
  • Debbie Spiliotopoulos, NVRC
  • Charlie Strunk, Fairfax Dept. of Transportation
  • Liz Cronauer, Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Jeff McCusker, Bureau of Land Management (Mason Neck)
  • Ryan Kimberly, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Mike DePue, Prince William Park Authority
  • George Liffert, Prince William Forest Park, NPS
  • Bill Niedringhaus, Potomac Heritage Trail Association
  • Joe DiBello, Washington-Rochambeau Route NHT, NPS
  • David Brickley, East Coast Greenway Alliance and September 11 Memorial Trail
  • Rich Cochran, National Museum of the Marine Corps
  • Kate Rudacille, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
  • Daniel Biggs, Toole Design Group, LLC

Corridor Analysis for the Trail Network in Northern Virginia
  • The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Northern Virginia is becoming a continuous, braided network of locally managed trails and loops for different kinds of non-motorized uses
  • NVRC has published a Corridor Analysis providing a regional context, details on planned segments, and fund-raising options
  • The workshop focusing on the corridor between Mount Vernon Estate and Locust Shade Park describes 31 of the 46 projects identified in the analysis, varying in priority, feasibility and scheduling for completion; local agency staff prioritized projects within their jurisdictions based upon existing plans, traffic/ safety issues, scenic benefits and connectivity

Discussion Groups
  • Workshop participants discussed actions to eliminate gaps in groups organized by geography:
    • Fairfax County: Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens - Occoquan Regional Park
    • Prince William County: Town of Occoquan – Leesylvania State Park
    • Prince William County: Powell’s Landing - Locust Shade Park/Stafford County boundary

Actions to Eliminate Gaps in the Trail Network
  • Woodlawn Plantation Historic District: Complete pedestrian and bicycle facility & produce and install interpretive signs as part of existing FHWA project (Mulligan/Telegraph Road)
  • Conduct evaluation for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Dogue Creek along Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
  • Continue discussions with staff of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir to identify a scenic Trail alignment and means of management
  • Lorton Road, Pohick Stream Valley Trail, Occoquan River alignment: Improve access, safety, and mark as a segment of the Trail network
  • Evaluate Old Colchester Road alignment
  • Mark and recognize Water Pollution Control Plant alignment
  • Mason Neck Trail: Fund exhibit; mark and promote trail system within Mason Neck State Park as a Trail segment
  • Route 123: Encourage VDOT to build multi-use alignment along 123 regardless of whether the alternate, scenic alignment is built; ensure both routes are included in local and VDOT plans
  • Consider negotiating all CSX alignment needs for Trail simultaneously, including Pohick Stream Valley Trail, 123-Occoquan crossing, Rippon VRE, 3 crossings along waterfront. Precedents for pedestrian/rail coexistence include Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  • Neabsco Creek: Prince William Park Authority will complete engineering drawings for preferred alignment/ boardwalk
  • Prince William Park Authority: Continue negotiations with Heritage Harbor HOA for 300ft, and secure easement for Port Potomac HOA
  • Eagles Point to Four Seasons, Four Seasons to Montclair: Prince William County Park Authority will work with HOA, landowners on best alignment.
  • Dumfries Alignment to Prince William Forest Park: Prince William will submit safe routes to schools application for bicycle/pedestrian improvements.
  • Pursue alignment along Route 1 to park along right of way stream valley
  • I-95 HOT Lanes: Ensure that bicycle pedestrian crossings in southern portion of Prince William County are addressed in VDOT megaprojects, including safety and technical follow up
  • National Museum of the Marine Corps: Work with NMMC Foundation on trail alignment, access, security issues
  • CSX waterfront alignment: Work with CSX on crossings along riverfront as part of upgrades to facilities--examples of pedestrian/train co-existence in Harpers Ferry, Crystal City, etc.
  • Develop trail alignment in conjunction with Quantico Marine Barracks that correspond to current security/access issues


Recommendations for the National Park Service Staff
  • Participate in local agency meetings with HOA representatives to illustrate national significance and encourage local support of the Trail network
  • Organize more public meetings and presentations about the Trail network
  • Increase trail signage to build awareness
  • Develop a flyer or information sheet for elected officials
  • State program – Designate Trail Communities
  • Add staff to increase potential for outreach and community engagement

Recommendations for Trail Corridor-wide Actions

  • Ensure projects and alternate alignments are included in local comprehensive plans and regional transportation plans
  • CSX: Negotiate pedestrian/crossings together (Pohick Stream Valley Trail, 123-Occoquan crossing, Rippon VRE, 3 crossings along Potomac River waterfront.
  • VDOT: Coordinate with VDOT planning/construction on bicycle/pedestrian options for I-95 crossings in Fairfax and Prince William County, Pohick Stream Valley Trail, 123-Occoquan crossing, and Dumfries Road/I-95 interchange
  • Coordinate with staff of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir and Quantico Marine Corps Base/National Marine Corps Museum Foundation on Trail alignments

More Information
Northern Virginia Regional Commission  3040 Williams Drive, Suite 200  Fairfax, VA 22031  703-642-0700 (Voice)  703-642-5077 (FAX)  Email Us