Now that the bridge is open, it’s all bike trail from Richmond Highway to the Mount Vernon Trail along the river and in the bigger picture, the East Coast Greenway Trail. “The county is not going to stop investing in biking infrastructure,” said Chairman Jeff McKay who rode his bike to the ceremony from his house in Franconia. He rode on trails that link Telegraph Road to Jeff Todd Way and then to the ribbon cutting site.
Marianne Vannatta lives in Island Creek and is a teacher at West Potomac High School. The new bridge gives her commuting options. “I can now safely bike all the way,” she said.
The $6.5 million project includes the bridge with custom medallions that match the décor at George Washington’s Gristmill which is about 50 yards away. Back in earlier times, the mill got its wheel-turning power from the creek flow. Elements of this project include a 6,400 foot long, 10-foot-wide shared use path and greenery planted throughout.
This summer, there are also two other bridges along the Mount Vernon Bike Trail that are getting attention too. Starting May 15, the National Park Service began a project to replace Bridges 23 & 24 on the Mount Vernon Trail south of Alexandria within Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and near Belle Haven Park. During the project, trail users will be detoured around the construction area.
The National Park Service will replace and widen the bridges from 10 feet to 14 feet. The NPS will also add new pedestrian safe handrails and rehabilitate a bench and overlook on Bridge 23.
Last year, one of the trail bridges was completely rebuilt in the Fort Hunt area, spanning a gulch instead of going around it like it had for years, creating a challenge for cyclists.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, participants jumped on their bicycles for a short ride on the new trail portion to the Mount Vernon Plantation.