Comments Sought on Georgetown Pike Walkway in Great Falls

Design of final phase of walkway up for discussion.

Fairfax County is seeking input from community members before it designs the final portion of a 4-mile pedestrian and bike trail along Georgetown Pike in Great Falls.

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation held a community meeting about its $800,000 Georgetown Pike Trail Phase IV project on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at the Great Falls Library. This was a follow-up meeting the FCDOT held at the library regarding Phase III of the trail.

“This is a public walkway that will meet [Virginia Department of Transportation] and county design standards and comply with the [federal Americans with Disabilities Act] and be maintained by Fairfax County,” John Dresser, FCDOT project manager, said during the meeting.

The portion of the walkway is also situated entirely within VDOT right of way, according to Dresser.

“It’s not right on the roadway; it’s outside of the drainage areas on a separate profile, separate area,” he said.

The grade of the sidewalk was designed so the rising and the falling of its slopes were minimized while also bearing in mind the community’s desire to limit tree loss, according to Dresser.

“What we’ve done is kept the grade at under 5 percent or 5 percent maximum … to minimize the need for putting handrails up,” he said.

Utilities were also an area of concern for Dresser and the design team.

THE TRAIL bends at one point to avoid an electricity distribution pole. Infrastructure for two major pipelines owned by the Colonial Pipeline Company are also located near the project area, according to Dresser.

While the pole and pipelines will not need to be moved, another power pole, mailboxes and a fire hydrant will need to be relocated, according to Dresser.

“We will have close contact with utility companies, including Colonial Pipeline during the design process,” Dresser said.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement with the VDOT to construct a pedestrian trail along the north side of Georgetown Pike from River Bend Road westward to Seneca Road in January 2001. The total distance for the continuous trail is 4.2 miles.

Phase I, located in the Village Centre, and Phase II, between Utterback Store Road and Falls Chase Court, have been completed. Phase III will complete a 250-foot section between Falls Chase Court and Falls Bridge Lane. Construction is scheduled for the summer and fall of 2019. Phase IV will complete a 1,200-foot section between Falls Bridge Lane and Seneca Road.

For Phase IV of the project, the FCDOT plans to submit its final design in spring 2018; acquire construction easements from abutting homeowners and the Salem Baptist Church in fall 2018; relocate utilities in fall 2019; and start construction in spring 2020, according to Dresser.

“We want to build this as fast as possible, but we didn’t want to promise something we couldn’t deliver,” Dresser said. “We’re at a point where we’re not too far down the road to make changes.”

The local citizens association offered its help to the FCDOT in securing its easements from the church and homeowners.

“The Great Falls Citizens Association is very eager to accelerate the connection of trails in the community,” GFCA Vice President Philip Pifer said during the meeting. “If there’s anything that we can do from our position to accelerate the process with our citizens … please reach out.”

THE PUBLIC can submit comments about Phase IV of the project to the FCDOT by Friday, Oct. 27, by using an online form at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/pedestrian/georgetownpiketrail.htm or by emailing John Dresser at john.dresser@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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