Thursday, December 3, 2015

Great Falls Trails Resolution

Great Falls Citizen's Association recently formed the Special Trails Committee to develop plans for a trail system in Great Falls. The committee recommended two types of trails, Primary Paths that would be asphalt multi-use trails and Secondary Trails that would be either asphalt or stone dust. In the past only stone dust trails have been endorsed by GFCA. The Countywide Trails Plan contains no paved Major Trails in the Great Falls Area. GFCA recently adopted a Resolution on Trails Surfaces that endorses the Special Trails Committee recommendations.

This is a major step forward for Great Falls cyclists who prefer to ride on dedicated bike facilities. If you would like to help the Special Trails Committee as they continue to develop the Great Falls Trail Plan, contact Scott Knight. The Committee plans to begin to identify where the next sections of trail should be built. The western portion of Georgetown Pike will likely be first as it connects the Great Falls Village Center with Turner Farm Park, Utterback Store elementary school and surrounding parks and the most densely populated portions of Great Falls.

GFCA Resolution on Trails Surfaces 

(adopted Nov 17, 2015)<

Whereas, in a 2014 survey the residents of Great Falls expressed their strong support for an interconnecting Trails System for recreational use which connects neighborhoods with the Village, schools, parks and other points of interest in Great Falls; and
Whereas, the Great Falls Citizens Association then established a Special Trails Committee to evaluate and pursue plans for such a Trails System in Great Falls, which Special Committee has included representation from many community groups including the Great Falls Trailblazers; and
Whereas, the Special Trails Committee has recommended that this Trails System be composed of a series of Primary Paths and Secondary Trails, where Primary Paths are envisioned as multiple use pathways serving as the backbone of the Trails System to which other secondary or overland trail would connect; and multiple use means use by pedestrians, bicycles, rollerblades, jogging strollers, and other non-motorized wheeled equipment as well as reflecting the needs of the equestrian community as much as possible; and
Whereas, the Special Trails Committee has studied and considered a wide range of trail surfaces for use in such a Trails System; and GFCA has in the past endorsed only stone dust trails throughout Great Falls, which policy may have contributed to both the current inadequate trail system that fails to meet the needs envisioned in the new Trails System; and
Whereas, our study of surfaces strongly suggests that for the Primary Trails, asphalt may be superior to stone dust in many situations due to its ADA compliance, cost, durability, range of use, low maintenance, resistance to grade and erosion, and availability of construction and maintenance funding from government and other sources; and finally
Whereas, a portion of our community is in favor of Stone Dust where it may be a practical option for Primary Paths; and there is a ‘pilot project’ currently underway evaluating optimal stone dust construction (the “Georgetown Pike Phase II” path) that may find that Stone Dust construction is practicable in certain applications where Trailblazers is able to fund and staff ongoing maintenance.
Therefore, be it resolved that GFCA hereby adopts a “whatever surface is best” philosophy relating to the construction of trails in Great Falls:
  1. GFCA supports the ability to use asphalt (or similar hard surfaces where advisable) for Primary Trails (as defined above and as determined by the Special Trails Committee) in Great Falls, and shall work with Fairfax County as needed to allow such construction.  
  2. GFCA maintains an open mind on the use of best-in-class stone dust construction for Primary Trail segments depending on the results of the Phase II path trial mentioned above, and where a stone dust surface can be shown to meet function, durability, maintenance and cost requirements, and where that surface will be properly maintained by a responsible party such as Trailblazers.
  3. GFCA continues to support stone dust or other soft surfaces for Secondary Trails that do not require the load capacity, multi-use capability, or durability of Primary Trails, being mostly intended for pedestrian (e.g. hiking) or equestrian use.   However, GFCA is not opposed to asphalt on Secondary Trails where its use is advantageous over stone dust.

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