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Park Authority Renames CCT to Honor Connolly's Efforts

Cross County TrailThe Cross County Trail is well-known, used by countless trail enthusiasts on foot, or bicycle or horse and now has been named the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail in honor of Congressman Gerry Connolly, who during his tenure as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors championed its creation.  The Cross County Trail (CCT) is more than 40 miles in length running from the Potomac River in Great Falls Park to the Occoquan River in Occoquan Regional Park.

The Fairfax County Park Authority renamed this trail at their June 12, 2013 meeting unanimously, citing the ongoing support that Connolly provided at all stages of the multi-million dollar, multi-year project.  “I am truly humbled by this unexpected honor.  The Cross County Trail is one of my proudest accomplishments in public office,” said Congressman Connolly. 

On May 25, 1999, the idea for a cross county trail was presented to the Park Authority by Fairfax Trails and Streams. The proposed route followed the existing stream valley trail system belonging, for the most part, to the Park Authority linking existing trails together with other public lands owned by the National Park Service, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the City of Fairfax, the town of Reston, and with public sidewalks through each supervisory district in Fairfax County to form a continuous pedestrian route from Great Falls National Park to Prince William County Occoquan Regional Park.

Congressman Connolly added, “There are a lot of people who share this honor with me.  This project is a true example of what can happen when the local community, volunteers and our elected officials work together.  Thanks to that effort we are leaving behind a real gem for future generations to enjoy.”

In August 1999 the Park Authority formed a task force with other county agencies, land managers, and trail advocacy groups.  In the course of the next several years the Park Authority assembled existing trail sections and rights-of-way to connect longer trail lengths while refining alternatives for missing sections.  During that time several trail stakeholders and advocacy groups successfully lobbied the Park Authority Board and the Board of Supervisors to enhance the trail.  Then Chairman Connolly was extremely supportive of Park Authority efforts to acquire the necessary links to complete the entire route.  One of the last significant sections of trail to be acquired was the Laurel Hill Greenway, a portion of the former Lorton Prison located on the rail bed used to transport goods within the prison property.  The Lorton property was acquired by the county from the federal government under Mr. Connolly’s leadership as Board Chairman.  He supported the amendment of the county Comprehensive Plan to protect the majority of Lorton as parkland, an action which allowed for the CCT to incorporate the Greenway at its southern terminus. With the Laurel Hill Greenway addition, continuous public right-of-way was established and the trail was officially “completed” in December of 2005.

Park Authority Chairman Bill Bouie said, “Mr. Connolly has demonstrated a steadfast resolve to preserve parkland and create recreational facilities in this community throughout his many years of public service.  He is a strong advocate for environmental stewardship and we are so very pleased to name this trail in his honor.  He is a deserving recipient of this acknowledgment.”

Ceremonies to mark this new designation and unveil trail signage will be held this fall.  For more information contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.

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