Trends related to this theme: Trails are a key connectivity component and are the most widely-used recreational facility type in the County. While the 2004 Needs Assessment recommended building 75 miles of new trails in Fairfax County, emphasis on improving connectivity and major trails has produced better results than focusing on added miles. The use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology has enabled the Park Authority to develop an accurate inventory of park trails and pathways and to identify gaps in connectivity. Constructing shorter trail segments in more densely populated communities that provide connectivity to the existing trail network provides more access to existing trail systems than building many miles of new trails.
Countywide objectives related to this theme:
- Improve non-motorized access to parks from commercial and residential areas and increase connectivity between park sites.
- Link multiple, separate park sites located across Fairfax County through thematic interpretive connections.
- Work with transportation officials to ensure that District and Countywide parks and the Cross County Trail are served by the public transportation system to provide broader and equitable access to recreational facilities.
- Work to improve access to waterways and promote the use of "water trails" throughout the County where environmentally feasible.
District-level Connectivity strategy suggestions include: adding specific trails, trail connections, bridges and other forms of improved access to and between parks; making thematic connections between parks with related natural and cultural resource features; working with the Department of Transportation to improve transit access to specific parks; working with the Department of Planning and Zoning to encourage creation of new parks in transit oriented growth areas of the county; and working with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and others to improve water access along the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers.
To address Connectivity needs, district-level strategies in the Great Parks, Great Communities Plan incorporate the recommendations of the Park Authority's Trail Strategy Plan.