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Vienna’s Southside Park will get new trail with planned stream restoration

A worker stands next to 13 feet of exposed stream bank along Bear Branch in Southside Park (via Town of Vienna)

The Vienna Town Council dedicated over half a million dollars on Monday (Aug. 29) to an ongoing project to restore Bear Branch tributary, a stream that runs through Southside Park to I-66.

With no discussion, the council awarded a $543,258 design contract to A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc. (AMT), one of five engineering firms that submitted proposals for this second phase of a two-part project this past spring.

This phase of the restoration will address approximately 2,300 linear feet of stream that flows through the park, parallel to Walker Street SW and Ross Drive SW, by stabilizing “the steep, eroded stream banks,” according to town staff.

“The completed project will reduce sedimentation and improve the stream’s water quality using natural channel design techniques,” the project page says.

In addition to shoring up the stream banks, the project will involve the replacement of a pedestrian bridge and the development of a “functional” pedestrian trail from the bridge to an existing sidewalk.

As part of its proposal, AMT said it would provide two recommendations for a possible bridge design and work with the town and park staff to develop the trail. The firm’s contract consists of a base fee of $497,744 with $45,514 added for the bridge and trail.

Carrying an estimated total cost of $2.5 million, the project is being funded by both Fairfax County and the town, which obtained a grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in November 2019.

The project’s first phase, which focused on the stream segment parallel to Patrick Street SW and Yeonas Park, got funding approved in 2019 and a design contract awarded in July 2020.

The first phase’s design plan is nearly complete and will be presented at a community meeting next Thursday (Sept. 8).

Photo via Town of Vienna

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