Custis Trail

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Custis Trail
Established1988
Length4.5 mi (7.2 km)
LocationArlington County, Virginia
DesignationShared use path
TrailheadsEastern: West end of trail bridge over George Washington Memorial Parkway 38°53′53″N 77°04′06″W / 38.898145°N 77.068374°W / 38.898145; -77.068374 (Eastern trailhead)
Western: Intersection with Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail 38°52′45″N 77°08′20″W / 38.879126°N 77.138784°W / 38.879126; -77.138784 (Western trailhead)
UseBiking, running, walking
Elevation
Grademoderate climbs; trail elevation increases from east to west
Cycling details
Trail difficultymoderate eastbound; moderate to strenuous westbound
SeasonAll
MonthsAll
SightsTrees and shrubs near trail.
Distant views on overpasses.
HazardsStreet crossings in first 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from eastern trailhead, especially at:
N. Lynn Street 38°53′57″N 77°04′15″W / 38.899069°N 77.070756°W / 38.899069; -77.070756 (N. Lynn Street)
N. Fort Myer Drive 38°53′57″N 77°04′19″W / 38.899127°N 77.071876°W / 38.899127; -77.071876 (N. Fort Myer Drive) Winding trail:
Multiple blind curves on hills adjacent to highway sound walls near street overpasses of I-66.
90 degree turn at base of hill near I-66 overpass of Four Mile Run and western trailhead 38°52′46″N 77°08′10″W / 38.879572°N 77.136110°W / 38.879572; -77.136110 (90 degree turn near I-66 overpass of Four Mile Run).
SurfaceAsphalt
Websitehttp://bikewashington.org/trails/wad/custis.htm
Custis Trail
CustisTrail.jpg
Map of the Custis Trail
Map all coordinates in "Custis Trail" using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML

The Custis Trail is a hilly 4.5 miles (7.2 km)-long shared use path in Arlington County, Virginia. The asphalt-paved trail travels along Interstate 66 (I-66) between Rosslyn and the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail (W&OD Trail) at Bon Air Park.[1][2]

History[edit]

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) constructed the $2.5 million Custis Trail beside I-66 (named the Custis Memorial Parkway in Virginia east of the Capital Beltway) from 1977 to 1982.[3][4][5] VDOT originally did not plan to build the trail, but added it to the I-66 project to help the highway gain federal approval and funding after the federal government rejected the initial plans.

East of Glebe Road (Virginia State Route 120), I-66 and the Custis Trail were both built on and near the former right of way of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad's Rosslyn spur, which the highway department had purchased in 1962. In late 1972, the county received permission to build a 1.3 mile temporary, natural surface bike trail on the right-of-way east of Spout Run, which was called the Spout Run Bike Trail.[6] The trail was to open by early 1973 and was in place by 1976.[7] The more hilly Custis Trail replaced this relatively flat route, on which I-66 now travels.

On August 8, 1977, VDOT officially began constructing the Custis Trail (or I-66 Trail, as it was originally called) and the section of I-66 in Virginia east of the Beltway.[5] The trail opened during the summer of 1982. In October, VDOT opened most of the new highway to cyclists and pedestrians for one day.[8] VDOT opened the 10 miles (16.1 km) segment of I-66 between the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and the Capital Beltway to motor vehicle traffic on December 22, 1982.[9]

The Custis Trail originally extended for 8.5 miles (13.7 km) to Lee Highway (U.S. Route 29) in East Falls Church (see List of neighborhoods in Arlington County, Virginia).[4] However, the section of the Custis Trail that travels between Bon Air Park and East Falls Church was later informally re-branded to become a part of the W&OD Trail.[1]

On June 11, 1988, an extension of the trail and a bridge over the George Washington Memorial Parkway opened at the trail's eastern end. The extension and the bridge connected the trail to the Mount Vernon Trail, a 17 miles (27 km)-long shared use path that travels along the Parkway near the west side of the Potomac River to Alexandria and George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.[10]

In 2018-19, VDOT, in cooperation with the Arlington County government, removed a lane of Lee Highway near the eastern end of the trail (between North Lynn Street and North Oak Street). The lane's removal enabled VDOT and the County to increase the width of that section of the trail from 10 feet (3.0 m) to 16 feet (4.9 m) and to widen the trail's buffer from 3 feet (0.9 m) feet to 8 feet (2.4 m).[11]

Description[edit]

The Custis Trail's eastern trailhead is at the trail's lowest elevation (33 feet (10.1 m)).[12] The trail connects at the trailhead to the Mount Vernon Trail, which provides access to three Potomac River crossings into downtown Washington, D.C., and the National Mall:[1]

250 yards (229 m) west of the trailhead, the Custis Trail connects at North Lynn Street to the Francis Scott Key Bridge, thus creating connections to Georgetown, to the southern end of the Capital Crescent Trail and to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath.[1] The trail then follows a hilly route along I-66 through Arlington County until reaching its western trailhead at the trail's junction with the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail (W&OD Trail) at Bon Air Park near Four Mile Run.[1][13] The western trailhead is 75 yards (69 m) east of North Patrick Henry Drive's overpass of I-66, the W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run.[1]

The trail reaches its highest elevation (299 feet (91.1 m)) near the North Harrison Street overpass of I-66 and the trail, west of Ballston.[14] The trail descends from that high point to the western trailhead, whose elevation is 233 feet (71.0 m).[15]

The Custis Trail crosses I-66 three times along its route:

The trail has five at-grade street crossings, all of which in a section of the trail that travels next to the westbound traffic lanes of Lee Highway in and near Rosslyn.[1] After the trail crosses I-66 on the Lee Highway overpass west of Rosslyn, the trail travels next to I-66 and crosses all streets on the highway's underpasses and overpasses.[1]

The trail has a 300-yard (274 m)-long spur that travels east to Fairfax Drive (Virginia State Route 237) along the westbound entrance ramp to I-66 in Ballston.[1][19] The spur connects to Ballston's streets and to the Bluemont Junction Trail, a 1.3-mile (2.1 km)-long rail trail that meets the W&OD Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail at Bluemont Park.[1]

Name[edit]

Web pages and other sources sometimes identify the Custis Trail as the "Nellie Custis Trail"[20] or the "Martha Custis Trail".[21] However, no documents show that the trail ever bore the name of any specific individual. In 1980, there were discussions of naming I-66 for the Custis family, to which George Washington was related by marriage.[22]

At the time that I-66 was opening east of the Capital Beltway, Virginia highway officials were unofficially calling that section of the road the "Martha Custis Parkway".[23] In 1981, at least one columnist thought the road - and by extension the trail - was being specifically named for Nellie Custis.[24]

The section of I-66 east of the Beltway eventually received the name "Custis Memorial Parkway".[3] Several Arlington County documents have therefore identified the trail as the "Custis Memorial Parkway Trail".[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Route of "Custis Trail". In "Arlington County Bike Map: 2019" (PDF). Bike Arlington. Arlington County, Virginia: Government of Arlington County, Virginia: Department of Environmental Services. May 2019. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Archived January 6, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ (1) Route of "Custis Trail". In "Martha Custis Trail". Bike Washington. Retrieved December 25, 2011. Archived October 20, 2001, at the Wayback Machine.
    (2) "Bon Air Park". Parks & Recreation. Arlington County, Virginia: Government of Arlington County, Virginia. 2020. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Archived December 12, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b (1) "Arlington Virginia List of State Roads". Department of Environmental Services. Government of Arlington County, Virginia. July 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2010. I-66 Custis Memorial Parkway
    (2) "State Roads". Transportation. Government of Arlington County, Virginia. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Interstate 66: Custis Memorial Parkway Archived April 12, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
    (3) "I-66". vahighways.com: The Virginia Highways Project. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Legislative names: Custis Memorial Parkway, I-495 to DC (since 1-21-82) Archived June 13, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
    (4) Levey, Bob (November 5, 1981). "An Honor That Nellie Custis Doesn't Deserve". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Ain't no sense in trying to turn it around," said D. D. Harris, an engineer for the Virginia Highway Department. "Arlington County and Fairfax County agreed a year ago to call it the Custis Memorial Parkway. We've even ordered the signs for the entrances.
    "The only thing that hasn't been done is for final approval to be granted. But that's just dotting I's and crossing T's. It's settled. This is no time to be drumming up business.
  4. ^ a b Hodge, Paul (December 22, 1982). "$2.5-Million Bicycle Path Along I-66 Wins Praise". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "I-66 Inside Capital Beltway Chronology – 77 Years in the Making". McLean, Virginia: Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. June 3, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2020. Archived August 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Eisen, Jack (November 22, 1972). "Rail Roadbed As Bike Trail Is Approved". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Station Area General Plans. Arlington County (Va.). Dept. of Environmental Affairs. Planning Division. 1976.
  8. ^ "I-66 Stretch Open Sunday to Hikers, Bikers". The Washington Post. October 20, 1982.
  9. ^ "A Long Road Bitter Fight Against I-66 Now History". Local. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  10. ^ Brooks, Dudley (June 12, 1988). "Bikers' Bridge". The Washington Post.
  11. ^ "Under Construction: Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements in Arlington County". VDOT: Virginia Department of Transportation. November 21, 2019. Archived from the original on January 7, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  12. ^ (1) Coordinates of eastern trailhead: 38°53′53″N 77°04′06″W / 38.898145°N 77.068374°W / 38.898145; -77.068374 (Eastern trailhead)
    (2) Elevation at eastern trailhead from topographic map at CalTopo Archived January 12, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Coordinates of western trailhead: 38°52′45″N 77°08′20″W / 38.879126°N 77.138784°W / 38.879126; -77.138784 (Western trailhead)
  14. ^ (1) Coordinates of highest elevation on Cutis Trail: 38°52′48″N 77°07′36″W / 38.880029°N 77.126795°W / 38.880029; -77.126795 (Highest elevation on Custis Trail)
    (2) Highest elevation on Custis Trail from topographic map at CalTopo Archived January 12, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Elevation at western trailhead from topographic map at CalTopo". Archived from the original on January 12, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Coordinates of Custis Trail in Lee Highway overpass west of Rosslyn: 38°53′49″N 77°05′02″W / 38.897009°N 77.083830°W / 38.897009; -77.083830 (Custis Trail in Lee Highway overpass west of Rosslyn)
  17. ^ Coordinates of Custis Trail within the Lee Highway underpass west of Spout Run Parkway: 38°53′46″N 77°05′55″W / 38.896233°N 77.098641°W / 38.896233; -77.098641 (Custis Trail within the Lee Highway underpass west of Spout Run Parkway)
  18. ^ Coordinates of Custis Trail within the Four Mile Run underpass near the trail's western trailhead: 38°52′46″N 77°08′10″W / 38.879348°N 77.136144°W / 38.879348; -77.136144 (Custis Trail within the Four Mile Run underpass near the trail's western trailhead)
  19. ^ (1) Coordinates of west end of Custis Trail spur in Ballston: 38°52′59″N 77°07′17″W / 38.882969°N 77.121263°W / 38.882969; -77.121263 (West end of Custis Trail spur in Ballston)
    (2) Coordinates of east end of Custis Trail spur in Ballston: 38°52′56″N 77°07′07″W / 38.882162°N 77.118537°W / 38.882162; -77.118537 (East end of Custis Trail spur in Ballston)
  20. ^ (1) "County Board Agenda Item: April 16, 2011:
    SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT: SUBJECTS: Adoption of the East Falls Church Area Plan ..."
    Government of Arlington County, Virginia. April 14, 2011. p. 5. Retrieved December 28, 2020. c. Extension of the Nellie Custis Trail past its existing termination at the corner of Quantico Street and 18th Street to Sycamore (Street).
    Archived December 28, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
    (2) yellowbiketales (February 13, 2008). "Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Virginia" – via Blogger. Nellie Custis Trail that follows Route 66 from the Potomac River connects with the W&OD just east of Falls Church. Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "Martha Custis Trail". Bike Washington. Retrieved December 25, 2011. Archived October 20, 2001, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Grubisich, Thomas (June 21, 1980). "Routes -- Arlington Looks to History: I-66 May Be Named After Old Custis Family". The Washington Post.
  23. ^ Hodge, Paul (December 22, 1982). "$2.5-Million Bicycle Path Along I-66 Wins Praise". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017. The "Custis Trail," as the bike path is called, is the counterpart of the Martha Custis Parkway, as Virginia highway officials have dubbed the controversial section of I-66 inside the Beltway.
  24. ^ Levey, Bob (November 5, 1981). "An Honor That Nellie Custis Doesn't Deserve". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  25. ^ (1) Donahue, William T., County Manager (November 3, 1999). "Memorandum to the County Board of Arlington, Virginia:
    SUBJECT: SP #331 Major Site Plan Amendment Request ..."
    Government of Arlington County, Virginia. Retrieved December 27, 2020. The trail connects to the Custis Memorial Parkway Trail (I-66) to the west ....
    Archived December 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
    (2) Donahue, William T., County Manager (September 29, 2000). "Memorandum to the County Board of Arlington, Virginia:
    SUBJECT: SP #333 (Carry-Over and Amended) ..."
    (PDF). Government of Arlington County, Virginia. p. 6. Retrieved December 27, 2020. The route ..... , which connects, with the Custis Memorial Parkway Trail (I-66).
    Archived February 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
    (3) "County Board Agenda Item: Meeting of July 9, 2005:
    SUBJECT: SP #65 Site Plan Amendment Request ..."
    (PDF). Government of Arlington County, Virginia. June 23, 2005. p. 3. Retrieved December 27, 2020. It connects to other bicycle routes including Custis Memorial Parkway Trail ....
    Archived December 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
    (4) "County Board Agenda Item: Meeting of May 22, 2010:
    SUBJECTS: A. GP-319-10-1 General Land Use Plan Amendment ..."
    Government of Arlington County, Virginia. May 19, 2010. p. 14. Retrieved December 27, 2020. The Custis Memorial Parkway Trail (I-66) and the .... are located approximately three-quarters of a mile to the north ....
    Archived December 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
    (5) "County Board Agenda Item: Meeting of July 16, 2016:
    SUBJECT: SP #413 Site Plan Amendment ..."
    Government of Arlington County, Virginia. July 8, 2016. p. 11. Retrieved December 27, 2020. Further to the north, the on-street bike lanes on North Quincy Street connect to the Custis Memorial Parkway Trail (I-66).
    Archived December 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.
    (6) "County Board Agenda Item: Meeting of February 25, 2017:
    SUBJECT: U-3468-16-1 Use Permit ..."
    Government of Arlington County, Virginia. p. 21. Retrieved December 27, 2020. The Custis Memorial Parkway Trail (I-66) and the .... are located approximately three-quarters of a mile to the north ....
    Archived December 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine.