Back in July of 2005, the National Park Service held a public briefing on a proposal to expand the George Washington Parkway. The meeting was held concurrently with a briefing on the Mt. Vernon Trail extension north. Nonetheless, the draft EA released last month - while acknowledging the extension - does not include a routing for the trail. Despite the fact that rebuilding the road provides the perfect opportunity to extend the trail.
The proposed rehabilitation of the north section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway will impact this trail routing option. While the draft Environmental Assessment now out for public comment acknowledges at several points the existence of the ongoing trail study, the parkway rehabilitation document as developed does not reflect in any way that parallel study. Reconstruction, lengthening and perhaps relocation of many of the existing stone walls running along the parkway could have a direct impact on any trail routing near the parkway travel lanes. Redesign and rebuilding of some of the access ramps at the parkway's intersection with Route 123 would likewise impact any nearby trail laid down to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle users within the parkway right of way.
One of the proposed redesigns for the ramp connecting southbound Route 123 with the southbound lanes of the parkway would help the ultimate inclusion of a multi-use path since it would open up an area between the current ramp and the hillside rising up to Pine Tree Lane. An Arlington cyclist who attended one of the recent open houses on the rehabilitation proposal was advised that this was not at present the Park Service's preferred design for the ramp. But it was clear from discussion with the engineers at the open house that a possible trail along the parkway was not considered in developing the ramp designs.
The Arlington community has been waiting patiently for over a decade for a usable bicycle/pedestrian connection between the county and the McLean/Langley area of Fairfax County. The County has constructed bicycle lanes on several miles of Military Road paralleling the parkway in part to take advantage of an expected future non motorized connection to McLean. The original public briefings held back in July 2005 on this parkway rehabilitation project were held concurrently with the briefings for the Mount Vernon Trail extension. It was thus assumed by many that the results of those assessments would likewise be released simultaneously.