By Carla Branch
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir
Those who were expecting a big boom at the demolition of the westernmost bridge across Four Mile Run today were disappointed. Elected officials in suits swung sledge hammers at the concrete bridge broke symbolic pieces off the structure with the real demolition to begin shortly.
The old railroad bridge connects Potomac Avenue in the new Potomac Yard development to Route 1. Pulte Homes, the owner of the bridge, will spend $3.5 million for demolition and will ultimately create open space where residents of the new development can enjoy the newly restored stream bed.
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D-8) has earmarked $9 million for the Four Mile Run project over the past decade. “This project began as a shared vision of Arlington and Alexandria officials and volunteers,” Moran said. “When I first got into politics, Four Mile Run used to overflow its banks regularly and flood sections of Arlandria. The Army Corps of Engineers created a flood control project, which was exactly what was needed at the time. Now, years later, it is time to reclaim Four Mile Run and restore the ecosystem and make it a place where Arlington and Alexandria residents can enjoy a waterfront where there is recreation activity.
“The demolition of this bridge is a beginning, not an ending. This plan is the vision of volunteers who have spent many years making sure that this project comes to fruition,” Moran said.
The Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan envisions the revitalization of a 2.3-mile stretch of Four Mile Run from Shirlington to the Potomac River. The plan calls for connecting bike and pedestrian trails from I-395 to the Mt. Vernon Trail. It envisions restoring Four Mile Run’s ecology by planting trees and other vegetation along the stream bed and for creating open space for passive and active recreation.
Arlington and Alexandria approved the master plan in 2006 and both communities have taken steps to address various elements of the plan since then. In Alexandria, there is now a community center, which used to be a Duron Paint store with an adjacent outdoor space where there is a farmers’ market and other activities. Arlington has completed the bike and pedestrian trial under I-395 to Shirlington.
“We look forward to a time when this is a space where people from Arlington and Alexandria come to enjoy Four Mile Run,” said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. “The demolition of this bridge is just one more step toward that goal.”