Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Short Bridge Cooperation

Last week's article in the Alexandria Gazette Packet and Arlington Connection ("Short Bridge, Big Compatibility Issues") may lead readers to believe cooperation between Alexandria and Arlington has been lacking in the planning of our border at Four Mile Run between Route 1 and Potomac Avenue. This is simply not the case.

Since the early 2000s, residents and staff from both localities have worked to develop and implement the Four Mile Run Restoration Plan. Completion of the Four Mile Run Park Tidal Wetlands and Living Shoreline is evidence of the two jurisdictions collaborating through a complicated and rewarding project to improve ecology and recreational opportunities. Alexandria has also coordinated the removal of one of the former industrial bridges over Four Mile Run, and has acquired new public park land along both banks within the city.

Alexandria is approaching the Short Bridge Park project with the same fervor and engagement as these previous joint projects, and fully recognizes the impact the transformation of this site will have on both communities. Alexandria staff have been fully involved in the Short Bridge Park planning process and understand the enormous benefits the park and bridge will bring to residents seeking outdoor experiences in one of the area's most urban settings.

Funding for capital projects in both jurisdictions comes from a variety of sources. While funds for the trail connection in Phase 1 of the Short Bridge plan were secured from a transportation grant, future Alexandria funding is dependent on contributions from continued development in Potomac Yard.

Alexandria staff have participated in Arlington’s public meetings on Short Bridge Park and have shared the conditions called for by the Potomac Yard North Coordinated Development District. These include the developer designing and constructing a new 2.3-acre Crescent Park at the southern end of the bridge over Four Mile Run (approximately at the current location of the Shoppers Food Warehouse), and either providing Four Mile Run Park improvements or contributing $10 million to the city to do so. Enhancements would include the Urban Deck at Short Bridge Park, promenade and bank improvements, and near-term trail connections.

Until the development contributions are available and the bridge can be fully designed and transformed from a heavy industrial use to a park, Alexandria is committed to keeping the site safe and maintaining access to the adjacent trail. These are merely different mechanisms for achieving the same goal of creating a vibrant, park site along Four Mile Run for residents of both jurisdictions to relax, recreate, and enjoy nature within an urban environment.

Mark Jinks

Alexandria City Manager

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