During a ceremony on March 10, members of the East Coast Greenway Alliance staff and trustees, Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg, and other officials dedicated a new section of the East Coast Greenway. A commemorative plaque was installed in Oronoco Bay Park in Alexandria, VA. The city — across the Potomac River from Washington, DC — marks the approximate midpoint of the Greenway’s 3,000-mile route from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
“The East Coast Greenway is a fantastic amenity for our entire nation, and we are proud that Alexandria sits at its heart,” Mayor Silberberg said at the blustery afternoon dedication. “I look forward to welcoming even more visitors on foot and by bike to our beloved, historic city.”
The ceremony served to formally designate Alexandria’s Mount Vernon Trail, from Four Mile Run to Cameron Run, as a part of the East Coast Greenway. The five-mile stretch is the most widely used on the Greenway and one of the region’s premiere walking and biking paths. In 2016 alone, more than 500,000 trips took place on this segment. The Greenway and its network of multi-use paths serves our nation’s most populated corridor, offering safe places to exercise, alternative commuting options, bicycle tourism routes, and reduced roadway congestion and pollution.
The dedication ceremony took place beside a plaque installed in Oronoco Bay Park near the junction of the Mount Vernon Trail and Pendleton Street. Patricia King, one of the founders of the East Coast Greenway 25 years ago, donated the plaque and marker in honor of her parents, Paul and Doris Bankes, for their generous support of the Greenway.
“We appreciate so many people who have helped build the dream of the East Coast Greenway thus far,” said Dennis Markatos-Soriano, executive director of the Alliance. “Getting the Greenway done is often a family affair, with spouses and kids and grandparents pitching in. In the early days of the Alliance, Pat would host day-long meetings at her house and her husband, Tom, would cook for everyone.”
Tom Kaiden, Chief Operating Officer of Visit Alexandria and vice chair of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, noted Alexandria’s growing status, regionally and nationally, as a pedestrian and bike-friendly community with easy access by foot or bike in addition to motor vehicle, rail, and air. Visitors to Alexandria provide an annual economic impact of $771 million, which translates to a $350 annual tax savings for the average household. The growing number of Greenway users, locals and visitors, contribute increasingly to the local economy.
When complete, the East Coast Greenway will be the longest protected biking and walking corridor in the United States.