The National Capital Planning Commission meets today to decide on the proposed relocation of part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway bicycle trail near Collingwood.
The commission will meet at 9:30 a.m. at its headquarters, 1325 G St. NW. The meeting is open to the public, and numerous citizens' and civic groups are scheduled to speak.
The commission staff is recommending approval of a plan by the National Park Service that would keep the bike route on the west side of the parkway, but take it off small roads. Under the plan, a separate bike trail would be built on adjacent parkway right of way.
Built from 14th Street Bridge to Mount Vernon in 1973, the popular bike trail is a paved or compacted gravel path except where it passes through Alexandria and Collingwood. It meanders through the streets of Old Town and in Gollingwood, for about two miles, crosses over to the west side of the parkway and runs parallel to Park Service and Fairfax County roads.
The Park Service has been studying a new bike path route through Collingwood since 1974 and was given $500,000 by Congress for the relocation, including possible bicycle-pedestrian bridges over the parkway. The bridges have since been rejected by the Park Service as detrimental to the scenic parkway, as was a route along the east, or river side, of the parkway where the Park Service owns only a narrow strip of adjacent land.
The proposed trail would cross four roads that enter the parkway, as does the route used since 1973. This has brought opposition from residents west of the parkway who object to the heavy bicycle traffic.More than 200,000 bicylists a year now use the path.
The commission staff recommendation calls for extensive landscaping to partially screen and beautify the section where the bike trail would be and also urges that the Park Service build a comfort station along the 14-mile trail, possibly beside the proposed new section.