(From left) Robb Watters, Scott Knight and Huey, his dog, Jinny Beyer,
Sean Beyer, Jennifer Falcone, Great Falls Citizens Association Land Use
& Zoning Committee, Patrick O’Connor, Skip Dawson and Bill Canis,
President of Great Falls Citizens Association. (Not pictured: Mr. and
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
UPDATE: Great Falls Connection Publishes Front-page story 8/19/2020: http://connectionarchives.com/PDF/2020/081920/Great%20Falls.pdf
GFCA Learns of Possible Development of Marmota Farm – aka El-Farouki Addition, 9800 Georgetown Pike
The Land Use & Zoning Committee (LUZ) recently learned that the owner of Marmota Farm has entered into contract with Toll Brothers to develop the 22+ acre property on the corner of Georgetown Pike and Innsbruck Avenue, across from the Old Forestville Schoolhouse and Great Falls Grange. The site plan for the 11-home is a “by-right” subdivision was approved by Fairfax County in 2006.
Initial inquiries by GFCA determined that the mandated trail that was previously approved for the site was to be a stone dust surface. That type of surface is no longer used for trails in the area. As a result of GFCA communications with Fairfax County and Supervisor Foust’s Office, Fairfax County staff contacted the site engineer for the project and the trail will be upgraded to paved asphalt, the current standard for trails in the County, should Toll Brothers go through with its purchase. Research also determined that the development plans call for a cut in the grade of Georgetown Pike to be made, thus lowering the grade in order to improve sight lines for traffic entering and exiting the subdivision entrance. The proposed roadway changes signaled possible impact on the historic nature of the Georgetown Pike Roadbed and character.
The Georgetown Pike is on the National Register of Historic Places and, thereby, recognized by the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a historic asset worthy of preservation. Originally a privately owned turnpike, it was constructed between 1813 and 1827 as a planned road which involved complex engineering specifications for the structure.
The road was constructed by hand, horse drawn scoops, and blasting. After the roadbed was graded, it was filled with closely fitted large stone 12 inches deep topped with smaller gravel and finished with water bound fine gravel and sand to fill the gaps and create a smooth travel surface. The finished roadbed was approximately 18 inches deep and 20 to 24 feet wide with drainage ditches on either side. A 15-footwide unpaved summer road was cleared and graded to parallel the main road as part of the original construction; traces of it still remain. The main road was paved circa 1919.
While the road has been repaved numerous times in the past century, no alterations have been made to the original foundation. The intact foundation, or roadbed, is an integral part of the historic resource. To shave off the hill in front of Marmota Farm would no doubt also remove a portion or all of the original roadbed and have a significant adverse effect on the historic resource.
LUZ is also exploring potential issues arising with storm water management, as standards used for approval of the initial plan have been made more stringent as a result of 2014 zoning amendments. Providing adequate landscape buffering was also raised by GFCA. Neighboring Lift Me Up! raised concerns over potential issues that could arise given the close proximity of the homes on the east side of the development, especially in the area of the equestrian facilities; GFCA also believes that similar landscaping should be required on the west of the project to protect the viewshed for the county’s historic Grange and Old Schoolhouse.
A special meeting was convened to investigate the concerns about the roadway and storm water. As a result of that meeting, and the three-pronged nature of the concerns involving land use, transportation, and environment—correspondence was forwarded from GFCA to Supervisor Foust to request his assistance from County and VDOT staff in resolving issues that have been identified.
GFCA Seeks Funds to Address Traffic Congestion
at Great Falls Park
|Georgetown Pike Looking Eastbound|
In an effort to address the long-standing issue of traffic congestion near Great Falls National Park (GFNP), the GFCA Board recently requested that Congresswoman Wexton assist in securing funds needed by the National Park Service (NPS) to implement a reservation-based system. While GFCA has been actively working with NPS and others since 2014 to address the issue, the problem is growing as demand to visit the park exceeds capacity.
Although several recommendations for congestion management have been implemented as a result of a 2017 NPS assessment, including the use of variable message signs and social media to inform visitors about park conditions and prepayment of entry fees, these low-cost and more immediately executed tools are not effective alone. GFNP doesn’t have the resources to undertake what is thought to be a key solution—a reservation system. Other national parks, including Muir Woods and Yosemite National Park, have instituted a parking space reservation system, and news reports indicate that Glacier National Park may soon get one. If GFNP were to introduce a similar system, then the flow of traffic could be better controlled, thereby greatly reducing or eliminating congestion and restoring access to the park and nearby homes.
Until such time as a reservation system can be implemented, the Transportation Committee (TRN) has proposed, on behalf of residents in the 9100 block of Old Dominion Drive, that GFNP staff work to eliminate back-ups beyond 9187 Old Dominion Drive on weekends and holidays from March through October. TRN has also advocated for additional parking restrictions on Georgetown Pike in order to address safety concerns expressed by the community. VDOT has already begun designing a new type of sign that will reduce "sign clutter" along this historical roadway while allowing the police to better enforce illegal parking in the area.What You Can Do: Residents who are concerned about traffic congestion near Great Falls Park are encouraged to contact Congresswoman Wexton’s office to advocate for funding a reservation system. Emails can be sent c/o: email@example.com.
VDOT Plans for Springvale Road Bridge Replacement
In the June newsletter, the Transportation Committee reported that VDOT was studying replacement of the one-lane bridge on Springvale Road just north of Route 7. While there is currently no funding for construction, the bridge has recently been rated by VDOT as “structurally deficient”. Following a special meeting with VDOT on June 15th and discussion by the GFCA Executive Board, a letter outlining GFCA’s concerns about the proposed project was recently sent to Helen Cuervo, District Engineer for Northern Virginia. The letter focused on several issues, including the:
- Structural integrity of the Springvale Road bridge deck, substructure, and superstructure in comparison to those other bridges, including how a structurally deficient bridge compares to one that is structurally obsolete.
- Potential for increased north- and southbound commuter traffic on Springvale Road should the capacity of the bridge be expanded. While there are differing views about a one-lane versus a two-lane bridge, many believe that the existing single-lane configuration serves to restrain increases in the volume of through traffic in Great Falls. With ongoing construction on Route 7 and increasing tolls on Route 267, a two-lane bridge on Springvale would make it the path of least resistance for traffic between Reston/Herndon and Maryland/DC and significantly affect Georgetown Pike and other local roads.
- Design of the bridge, and whether construction of a larger structure would negatively affect Piney Run as well as nearby wetlands and streams that feed the Difficult Run watershed.
- Absence of advance notification to the community about the proposed project. Given that funds were not available for the partial interchange at Springvale Road and Route 7, as originally planned, it is not clear why the bridge replacement is taking precedence over that project which would have reduced congestion on Route 7, thereby making it a better alternative for commuters. GFCA would like to prioritize the interchange. Concerns have also been expressed by some members of the community that recent efforts by LIDL for a rezoning of the Meadows Farm property is somehow linked to the bridge replacement.
Although VDOT has indicated that it will be holding a public information meeting on the project in the next month or so, GFCA wants to ensure, on behalf of the community, that all issues and alternatives for replacement of the Springvale Road bridge are considered so that traffic volume through Great Falls does not increase.
If you have an interesting news story you would like to share concerning the Great Falls Community, please send it along with any photos to Communications @GFCA.org
As Published in the October 1994 GFCA Newsletter:
North Seneca Road/Loudoun County Cut-Through Traffic
The Great Falls Citizens Association, working with residents along Seneca Road, is continuing to fight for compliance with the 1988 Memorandum of Understanding between Fairfax and Loudoun Counties by blocking intercounty traffic north of Route 7. Negotiations between the counties and between the developer and our community are ongoing.
VDOT Route 7 Construction Image Gallery
(Click Image to enlarge)
New Membership Mailing Sent
Our Membership Recruitment Mailer was distributed via USPS on Friday August 21.