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New design guidelines offer vision for future Tysons Community Circuit trail

The Tysons Community Circuit is finally starting to take shape in concept, if not in reality quite yet.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepted new design guidelines last Tuesday (Feb. 7) for the 4.75-mile recreational trail that will one day loop around the core of Tysons, assuming everything goes according to the county’s comprehensive plan.

While the trail only exists on paper right now, an initial segment will be delivered as part of The Boro’s expansion, which commenced construction in early 2022.

“We have the first portion coming in with the next piece of The Boro, so I think this is going to be an exciting opportunity for beautiful and multi-use opportunities in the Tysons area,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

Crafted by county staff and developer representatives from the Tysons Partnership (now evolving into the Tysons Community Alliance), the design guidance outlines the overall vision for the Tysons Community Circuit and sets standards for paving, crosswalks, signs and other elements.

Dated Dec. 6, 2022, the document calls for consistency throughout the trail, proposing concrete as the primary pavement material to “unify the diverse building frontages and site conditions” in the area.

It also stresses the need for a “comprehensive approach” to intersections and crosswalks that considers both pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles like bicycles. Accent strips and “artistically designed” crosswalks with bold colors are recommended as visual cues.

“Accent strips should be incorporated at intersection approaches to alert users of potential conflict points,” the guidance says. “The changes in both color and texture will alert pedestrians to slow down as they approach intersections.”

An intersection of the Tysons Community Circuit at a collector street, based on the design guidance (via Fairfax County)

Crosswalk design will be particularly important when the circuit crosses major roads — especially the Capital Beltway (I-495), Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) — and when it switches to the opposite side of the street, according to the document.

The guidance also has examples of amenities for the trail, like benches, trash receptacles and bicycle and scooter parking racks. It recommends incorporating “colorful decals and pavement markings” to reinforce the Tysons brand and create a sense of place.

Decals and pavement markings can also:

  • Provide directional information
  • Mark travel distances
  • Supply event information
  • Celebrate the seasons
  • Transmit safety messages
  • Spread knowledge of history, literature, the arts, nature, science, etc.

Now that it has the board’s endorsement, the guidance will be used during reviews of development applications, according to a county staff report.

Along with the three-block segment in The Boro expansion, the Fairfax County Planning Commission approved a development plan for a residential building at The Mile in May that includes a 7,595-square-foot portion of the community circuit.

“The guidance is intended as a working document, and subject to refinement to reflect changing development conditions along the Circuit to ensure the best outcomes for the Circuit as a recreational trail and placemaking element in Tysons,” county staff said. “In locations where redevelopment is not anticipated, segments of the Circuit could be constructed with public funds, grants, or through public-private partnerships.”