Saturday, October 11, 2008

W&OD/Fairfax Co Parkway Connector Trail

Today my wife and I were out for a ride that took us along the trail that connects the Fairfax Co Parkway Trail to the W&OD Trail. We were pleased to see that the vegetation had been cut back and the trail was clear for a change.

In the past this short trail had become very overgrown and there was so little room in some places that it was difficult for two cyclists to pass each other. In one place you couldn't see oncoming cyclists either. Because this is a side trail off of the W&OD Trail, it doesn't get the tender loving care of the main trail. We're lucky if the trail crew visits once a year to cut back all the accumulated foliage.

Well this year a couple of enterprising cyclists took matters into their own hands (we won't mention their names). They brought their gardening tools and cut back the trees and weeds and made life a little bit better for the rest of us. Thanks guys.

Bruce, the W&OD is managed by NVRPA, advocated by FOWOD, and adopts out trail segments to individuals and groups. Adopters keep their segments looking nice. We also have a Trail Patrol and all of us do things like clear trail debris, report graffiti, look for dangerous conditions and such. I know I went behind some DVP trucks in Vienna recently and picked up some branches their trucks inadvertendtly dropped that could catch other cyclists' wheels. (Hard to see branches on asphalt sometimes.) We have park rangers for the W&OD, as well as a park manager, and you can see how there is always someone mowing and tending to the trail.

The photos of the Fairfax Co Pkwy trail made it look pretty neglected. Grass growing up through cracks is sad. Can you clarify "whose" trail it is and who is primarily responsible for it? Is it VDOT's trail? The County's trail? Do they adopt it out or do they adopt out segments of it out to people who might help shoulder some of the burden?

For a trail to "look good," it requires dedicated staff and volunteers to support them and to look after it on a rather daily basis.
NVRPA does a great job of keeping the main part of the trail clear of debris. It's just that some side trails, like the W&OD/Fx Co Parkway connection and the side trail to the Town Center get neglected. I'll suggest to the two mystery clippers that they could adopt the segment of trail that they cleared.

The Fx Co Parkway trail is mostly owned and maintained by VDOT. I think there may be one or two short segments that are Fx Co responsibility. VDOT does respond to complaints if one is persistent and knows who to call. I use 703-383-VDOT (703-383-8368) and ask for a project or task number that can be used to track the complaint. However, it's going to take more than just fixing spots. The entire trail needs to be repaved.

Fx Co will say that it's VDOT's trail, and VDOT will say they won't do any major upgrades until the county sets aside money, which it never does. I'll ask Charlie Strunk how we can get money in the budget for repaving. It should have been included in the last Transportation Bond, but since requests are submitted by each district, a long, multi-district trail gets neglected (unless it's managed by the Co. Park Authority).
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