On Thursday, October 7, the Northern Virginia Park Authority formally opened the revitalized W&OD Trail. My comments on this occasion focused on three Ss, a V, and a P…or S3&VP.
Sustainability. In less than 30 days from today, the world will gather in Glasgow Scotland to assess our global, national and individual progress and failures to reduce and mitigate climate change. Climate change is one of the world’s existential challenges, if not the existential challenge. The W&OD project is the kind of project that could be listed on the side of the ledger called progress, but that side of the ledger must be multiplied many times over in all our activities, especially transportation, if we are literally to save the planet and life on it as we know it.
Service. We have seen a steady and encouraging rise in alternatives to single occupancy fossil fuel vehicles for transportation. And the pandemic has illustrated for all the vital importance of recreational facilities, including this regional facility. This revitalized trail enhances this service for all users. And I expect that in the future, there will be even more enhancements as the need arises.
Safety. The increase in volume of all trail users also brings the challenge of safety. Just as roads can be safe or unsafe depending on how they are used, so, too, is that the case for this trail. While we have increased the potential of safety, more will be done and is in the works, including where the trail crosses streets. Enforcement will be pursued. While this and other public improvements are intended to enhance safety, it is ultimately the users themselves who will make this a safe trail. All stakeholders must act in order to make that happen
Vision. We celebrate the vision of those who first determined that for Northern Virginia to grow and contribute to the country, a rail line was necessary. More recently, WW II veterans, heroes and leaders such as Falls Church’s Walter Mess and Roger Neighborgall and the Park Authority members, staff, elected officials, and the public they served and serve, deserve our respect and thanks.
Performance. And finally, this: The renovation of the W&OD would not have happened without the dedicated and hard work of engineers, planners, and laborers who, during a pandemic, actually converted the Vision for this trail into the Sustainability, Service, and Safety we celebrate today.
In closing, while we appropriately celebrate this project this morning, let us dedicate ourselves to the challenge of pursuing a vision, and the performance to make it a reality, that in the words of Bobby Kennedy does not simply ask ‘why’, but asks ‘why not?’ And, let us commit that in all our endeavors, we will work to improve the sustainability, service, and safety for the benefit of all our citizens.