More than 275 years ago, a period of time before the founding of Alexandria on the Potomac, the southern banks of Great Hunting Creek held fantastic views of ships arriving from Europe. A first timer to the scene must have watched in awe as the tall ships eased their way inland and docked at the village of Cameron. Fine clothing, china and products from London merchants were unloaded, replaced by hogsheads of Virginia tobacco. After the show, beers might have been quaffed at the tavern next to the port.
Nothing from those pre-Alexandria days remains today, except the shriveled remnants of the creek. One can, however, stand on those same banks below the Huntington Metro Station, gaze across the water, and be in awe of two new tall buildings in the neighborhood of Eisenhower East.
Helping to mark the 230-acre neighborhood is Paradigm’s Park Meridian, a high-rise apartment complex (505 units), just steps to the east of the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station (corner of Eisenhower and Mill Road). Topping out recently at 25 stories, it hopes for an early 2017 opening.
On the other side of Eisenhower Avenue is the National Science Foundation, Park Meridian tall war rival (apparently the latter is a few feet taller). Its pace has been ahead of Paradigm, but due to more involved interior work, it opens in the second half of 2017.
Harris-Teeter fans can look forward to one of the next construction projects in the neighborhood. It will be located on the ground floor of a mid-rise that is planned go up between Paradigm and the beltway, where the American Trucking Association’s glass building stood until its demolition in late 2014.
As noted by VDOT’s website,
This project will construct a two-way bicycle and pedestrian trail connection between Mill Road (near the intersection with Eisenhower Avenue) and the existing trail located to the east of Hooffs Run to create a more direct and conflict-free connection for bicyclists and pedestrians between the Eisenhower East and Southwest Quadrant neighborhoods.
The neighborhood is already served by a pair of flyover ramps from the Beltway, and the metro stop (remember in the mid-90s when it was a virtual ghost town?). To some, this project may seem to be just a bit player. In this era of smart growth, however, the smaller solutions to congestion can add up and deliver a lot of bang for the buck.
House Bill 2 funds transportation projects. The merits of each proposed project can be seen at Virginia’s HB2 website. Using factors such as congestion mitigation and intermodal access, engineers rank each project. These rankings help lawmakers prioritize spending.
The Old Cameron Run Trail project ranked 78th out of 287 statewide, and 12th out of 45 in the Northern Virginia region. That upper fourth ranking doesn’t guarantee lawmakers will choose the trail project, but it gives them a good reason to do so.
Cyclists in the area are already praising the proposed trail. As car-free bicycling advocate Jonathan Krall noted at WashCycle, Old Cameron Run Trail is a “big deal for Alexandria.”
About a half of a mile in length, the recreational trail would become a vital cog in the intermodal system by connecting the Alexandria part of Fairfax County and the Eisenhower Valley with Old Town and the Mount Vernon Trail. The city planning document also outlines plans for building “The Meadow,” a passive/active park which would be located near the intersection of Hoof’s Run Drive and Limerick Avenue.
This is a fascinating project. Instead of paralleling an existing road like some trails do, this one would cut diagonally across the parcels. On satellite maps, one can see the run is the last remnant of green space in the neighborhood. Historic Aerials maps from the 1950s show the run extending even further south. This was, of course, before the Beltway was built. This makes the trail path the last vestige of the flow of water north of the beltway and west of Hoof’s Run.
Adding to the uniqueness of this proposed trail is the lay of the land. Hooff’s Run and Alexandria National Cemetery protect southwestern Old Town from too much cut through traffic. For those wanting to avoid the red lights on Duke Street, the sole option is Jamieson Avenue. During peak rush hours, it becomes clogged.
Those with a “windshield perspective” might say, well, then, why doesn’t the city also build a road along the Old Cameron Road Trail?
Pouring pavement without considering the consequences is a bad idea. If you’ll pardon the expression, that ship has sailed…