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POSTPONED TO APRIL 20: Falls Church Planning Commission Public Hearing: W&OD Trail Improvements

April 6, 2020 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

The W&OD (formally, the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park) is one of the best-known recreational and commuting trails in Northern Virginia. The park stretches 45 miles from Arlington to Purcellville and is typically 100 feet wide. As Northern Virginia’s population has grown, and with the increasing popularity of outdoor recreation and bicycle commuting, the trail has become more crowded – especially in towns and urban areas, and especially during peak times such as rush hour and weekends.

Recognizing this crowding, NOVA Parks, which owns and manages the trail, commissioned a study to gauge the level of service provided and examine solutions, if needed. The study (completed in 2017, linked here) showed that the shared-use asphalt trail through Falls Church is no longer serving its users well, and that creating side-by-side trails for bicyclists and pedestrians will alleviate crowding and provide sufficient future capacity for the City.
The dual trails project will serve two purposes: expand the W&OD trail capacity and improve trail safety for multimodal transportation options that aim to keep up with regional travel demand and fulfill the desired outcomes of the City’s Master and Comprehensive Plans. The dual trails project will add a parallel paved pedestrian path to the shared use trail that currently exists.

This project will improve levels of service and encourage non-motorized traffic in the extensive Northern Virginia non-motorized network of which it’s a part.  The dual trails will increase usage of the W&OD trail and increase patronage at nearby employment destinations, commercial districts, and residential neighborhoods, in adherence with the City’s Regional Activity Center designation.

This project will be regraded to accommodate the new trail and aims to improve treatment of stormwater, replant disturbed areas with native/adaptive species, and explore potential lighting solutions.
In Falls Church, the shared use path is reaching its functional capacity for bicyclists and there are frequent conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians. This competition for space will worsen as volumes increase.  The parallel trails will provide greater capacity and encourage use by people who may otherwise avoid the trail due to overcrowding.
NOVA Parks is working with City of Falls Church staff to coordinate the dual trails with the City’s plans to improve six at-grade street crossings of the W&OD trail in the City.  Two of the six at-grade street/trail crossings are being implemented as a part of the Founders Row mixed-use development at Grove and North West Streets.

The trail bridge over Route 29 is currently under construction and is designed to provide a safer crossing in place of the busy at-grade intersection. Construction is slated to be completed in fall of 2020.


June 17, 2019       30% Design Plans were Submitted to the City
July 1, 2019           Planning Commission Work Session
Nov. 1, 2019          60% Site Plan Submission
Dec. 16, 2019        Planning Commission Work Session
April 6, 2020          Planning Commission Public Hearing (tentative)

The 100% site plan application has been submitted on March 9, 2020 for staff review, with a tentative Planning Commission public hearing scheduled for April 6, 2020.  Construction is slated to commence in Summer 2020.  Detour updates will be posted on the NOVA Parks website and W&OD Trail Facebook page.
Funding for the project is provided by a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) regional revenues, a VDOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, and NOVA Parks capital project funds. The Falls Church City Council fully supported NOVA Parks’ efforts to secure these grant funding sources with a resolution of support in 2018.



April 6, 2020
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm