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Alexandria may allocate $6 million to reopen closed portions of the Holmes Run Trail.

The trail, which was damaged in last July’s flash flooding after the Barcroft Dam overflowed, in addition to previous flood damage from 2018, is currently closed in four sections. City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed new capital funding to reopen all four sections.

If approved by the City Council as part of this year’s budget and Capital Improvement Program process, trail users will still have to wait a couple of years for it to fully reopen. Repairs will be designed and planned in Fiscal Year 2021 and construction will take place in Fiscal Year 2022.

“The City recognizes the impact these trail closures have on the many residents and visitors who use Holmes Run Trail and appreciates the community’s patience as City staff works to fund, plan, design and construct the necessary improvements to make the trail fully functional once again,” said a press release.

The full city press release is below.

Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks has proposed $6 million in capital funds to restore public access to the portions of the Holmes Run Trail closed following damage sustained during heavy rainfall.

In July 2019, Alexandria received a month’s worth of rain in approximately one hour, which led to flooding that damaged portions of the trail and left it unsafe for public access. Holmes Run is subject to water surges from stormwater that enters the run from various points, and these surges can be heavy when combined with automatic, controlled releases from the upstream Barcroft Dam.

While some problems have been repaired by City maintenance crews already, four locations (including two bridges) remain closed due to the devastating level of damage. These four sections of the trail suffered severe erosion and are structurally compromised. A map of the current closures and detour routes are available at the Holmes Run Trail Closures page.

The cost to address the current issues and rebuild the trail exceeds existing City resources and available state aid. The City Manager’s February 18 budget proposal funds design and engineering in Fiscal Year 2021, and construction starting in Fiscal Year 2022. City Council will adopt the Capital Improvement Program on April 29.

The City recognizes the impact these trail closures have on the many residents and visitors who use Holmes Run Trail and appreciates the community’s patience as City staff works to fund, plan, design and construct the necessary improvements to make the trail fully functional once again.

While temporary warning signage and barriers have been installed at all trail closures, City staff is actively working to develop more robust detour route signage to help trail users navigate the closures.

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Holmes Run Trail through Eisenhower’s West End was fragmented by last year’s flooding, and city staff said it could remain that way for years to come.

Under normal circumstances, the Holmes Run Trail runs continuously northwest from Eisenhower Avenue to Columbia Pike with few, if any, interruptions. Flash floods from last year’s July 8 storms changed that.

Jack Browand, division chief of Parks and Cultural Activities, said when the Barcroft Dam overflowed the stormwater caused significant damage to four areas along Holmes Run. Two bridges were damaged, one streambank got washed out and took the trail with it, and one crossing at Ripley Street was closed.

“We had to shut them down,” Browand said. “They’re not $50 fixes, they’re substantial engineering. We had them inspected and we have to keep them closed. So we’ll have to seek funding for design, engineering, and construction [of replacements].”

Browand said the city is still working through the documentation to receive reimbursement as a result of the state declaring an emergency.

“The timetable for seeking funding through budget process means it is likely going to be closed for one to three years in areas,” Browand said. “We established a website and we’re going to put out signs so people know why they’re closed. Some we might be able to open partially on extreme west end — where the bridge was washed out — west of I-395 but east of Beauregard. We can probably open a portion of the trail but the bridge cannot be used.”

As a result, Browand said the trail will not function as a continuous path from Eisenhower Avenue to Fairfax County. Visitors to the trail will have to take several detours, which Browand said will be obvious and clearly defined paths.

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Alexandria has closed a pedestrian bridge along Holmes Run after a safety inspection found the structure needed “immediate repair.”

The bridge that spans from Ben Brenman Park to Holmes Run Parkway was shut down late last week, according to city officials.

“During routine park amenity inspection by staff from the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, it was found that the bridge footings were unstable due to soft soil and loose rock below the footing,” the city said in a statement.

“An inspection by a civil engineer from the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services deemed the bridge to require immediate repair to ensure pedestrian safety,” city officials added.

For now, pedestrians will be able to follow signs for a detour route that crosses Holmes Run at the footbridge just south of the stream from the Holmes Run playground. This temporarily route links to back to Holmes Run Trail as it heads north towards Duke Street.

Image 1 via Google Maps

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