Draft design guidelines are now available for the physical and aesthetic features of the Four Mile Run Corridor, a 2.3 mile path that connects Alexandria and Arlington County and runs from Shirlington to the confluence with the Potomac River.
The design guidelines address channel stabilization and restoration, restoration planting, storm water management, public spaces, recreation facilities, and architectural features.
The public spaces include a network of trails including the existing commuter trail along the northern bank, a more winding community trail on the south side of the channel, and more narrow informal trails for hiking, jogging, and walking within the corridor.
To avoid biffs, the trails, which will all meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, will use green, recycled, porous materials for a smooth surface, and will have edges that promote drainage to avoid slips caused by flooding. And for all the avid gutter bunnies, out there, the Commuter trail will be twelve feet wide to allow for high-volume, high-speed, two-way bicycle traffic.
According to the design guidelines, "The commuter and community trails are the threads that weave together the natural landscapes, public spaces and built features. Like the stream itself, they are continuous elements meandering through diverse and changing environment."
In 2005, Alexandria and Arlington County adopted a Master plan for the Corridor because, "although the corridor is relatively well-served by parks and open space, there remains a need for additional recreational facilities and greater continuity to connect recreational facilities as part of a cohesive open space network." The plan also calls for promenades, public plazas, public art, and the restoration of current and creation of new sports facilities.
Four Mile Run is a nine-mile stream that flows adjacent to neighborhoods, commercial districts, and industrial facilities alike that have been subjected to repeated flooding since the 40's. In the 1970's, the cities partnered with the US Army Corps of Engineers to build a flood-control channel in the lower portion of the Run. No floods have occurred since its construction, but the channel is still in need of restoration; the trails are part of this effort.