If you've ridden the lower Four Mile Run Trail in the last 6 months, you've surely noticed the work going on there as part of the demonstration project for the Four Mile Run Restoration, primarily because of the detour. The restoration is meant to improve the stream’s water quality and recreation potential as defined in the 2006 Four Mile Run Master Plan.
The existing stone rip rap that currently covers the stream banks will be removed and replaced with native vegetation that will improve the habitat quality and aesthetics of the stream channel. Some of the stone will also be reused to create the living shoreline features. Living shorelines are a more environmentally sensitive way to protect stream banks and coastal areas, with wetland plantings behind small stone breakwaters.
But trail users will get more than an improved view. The trail will also remove the existing asphalt trail adjacent and rebuild it to current standards including a new sub-base and asphalt surface. Workers will install new trail railings and a new observation platform. It will also add a new trail along the wetland on the Alexandria side.
The Master Plan also calls for a new bridge (seen at top) just upstream of the Commonwealth Ave/S. Eads line.
But wait, there's more.
On the north side of Four Mile Run between Route 1 and Potomac Avenue is Land Bay K, a small rectangle of land that is part Alexandria and part Arlington (because the line didn't move when Four Mile Run was straightened out). That is being turned into a park, despite the objection of some neighbors, and the park will include an improved trail and connections. There was a public meeting on this last month, and 3 more planned.
The current switchback between Potomac Avenue and the trail is in Alexandria and Alexandria is a little behind Arlington in this case so not much will be done there, but in the first phase - to start early in 2018 - Arlington will build a new trail connection that links Route 1 to the Four Mile Run trail, and it appears rebuild the existing trail to current standards.
In the second phase, scheduled for 2022, the park will be constructed. The major impacts on the trail will be lighting and improvement of the area under the old railyard bridge.
Finally, on the Alexandria side of Four Mile Run, there are still two other parks planned, which will also have trails. Along the stream is "Crescent Park" and then along the west side of Potomac Avenue is Potomac Yard Park. This will include the top of the old railyard bridge (Urban Deck). These parks are being built with help of the developers nearby.
Crescent Park shall be 2.3 acres and include a stormwater pond, a promenade, a civic park pavilion, and both active and passive uses. The developer will design and construct, or the City will receive a $8.7m (in 2010 dollars) contribution, for Four Mile Run Park Improvements, including the Urban Deck, bank improvements, and trail connections
The draft plan for the North Potomac Yard area was completed this year and can be seen here. They're accepting comments for 9 more days. Hurry!
The highlights are an expansion of the Potomac Yard Trail from Braddock Road and the planned Metro Station to Four Mile Run, and the Four Mile Run Trail will be extended along the south side from Route 1 to the Mt. Vernon Trail. Many of the new roads will be considered "bike routes", some of which may have sharrows. The plan also requires bike parking and bikeshare stations.
So yeah, the trails along the lower Four Mile Run are about to go through a few changes.