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Mount Vernon Trail widening project clears planning hurdle

Cyclists along the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River near Belle Haven (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Plans to narrow the George Washington Parkway and widen the Mount Vernon Trail cleared another hurdle this week.

The changes could be coming to the Mount Vernon Trail just south of Alexandria. The National Park Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for an Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating the impacts of the proposed changes, according to a release.

From where the trail leaves Old Town down to the eponymous Mount Vernon it will be widened from 8 or 9 feet wide to 10 or 12 feet wide in some areas. Four trail bridges will also be replaced.

Safety and operational improvements are planned for the GW Parkway’s southern segment and Mount Vernon Trail improvements project scope (via National Park Service)

According to the release:

The EA analyzed several alternatives, including a no-action alternative and multiple action alternatives for improvements. After a period of public review and carefully considering the public comments received, the NPS selected a specific alternative that will not significantly affect the environment and encompasses a series of vital enhancements:

  • Upgraded pedestrian and cycling paths to improve user safety and enjoyment.
  • Enhanced road safety features, such as improved signage and lane adjustments to ensure smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents.
  • Maintenance upgrades to preserve the historic and scenic integrity of the parkway and trail, including repairs to existing infrastructure and scenic overlooks.

For the road diet, the plan is to bring the parkway down to one southbound travel lane and one northbound travel lane for much of the route with a striped median or center turn lane.

Design work and planning is scheduled to start later this year.

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