Arlington Celebrates Completion of Four Mile Run Restoration

Published on September 23, 2017


  • Part of master plan for Arlington-Alexandria shared waterfront legacy

  • Based on work from citizen joint task force

  • Includes unique public art elements


Arlington County and neighbors just south are marking the completed construction of the Four Mile Run Restoration Project.

[caption id="attachment_13562" align="alignright" width="213"] New vegetation at Four Mile Run[/caption]

At a ribbon cutting on Saturday, members of the County Board, former Rep. Jim Moran and community activists celebrated on the banks of the revitalized waterway that forms part of the border between Arlington and the city of Alexandria.

The finished work is the first element constructed by Arlington for the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan, which envisions the corridor as a place along which Arlington and Alexandria residents can gather, recreate, and celebrate a shared waterfront legacy.

"This project exemplifies our commitment to restoring Arlington's streams and protecting the Chesapeake Bay, and would not have been possible without the close collaboration of our watershed neighbor, Alexandria," said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. "Our residents and visitors will directly benefit from the many improvements this project brings—particularly the enhanced recreational opportunities along Four Mile Run—for many years to come!"

Project Details


[caption id="attachment_13568" align="alignleft" width="126"] During construction[/caption]

The stream restoration work included naturalization of the stream bank and construction of nine living shoreline features along the edge of the stream. Living shorelines help to reduce erosion along the bank, improve water quality by capturing sediment and utilizing nutrients and provide habitat for fish and waterfowl. The stone riprap that used to cover the stream bank was removed and replaced with native vegetation, creating extensive new wildlife habitat and beautifying the channel.  Alexandria also completed its wetland restoration project in 2016 as part of the partnership.

The project is a key component of Arlington County's Stormwater Management Program and will contribute pollution reduction credits toward Arlington's requirements under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Arlington had EPA Grant Funding to offset 55 percent of total project costs, up to a maximum reimbursement of $1.74 million.

Citizen Leadership


A citizen joint task force, made up of members from Arlington and Alexandria, led an extensive public process to improve Four Mile Run, resulting in the adoption of the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan in 2006, the Four Mile Run Design Guidelines in 2009, initial designs for a new pedestrian bridge across the stream, the Alexandria wetland restoration project and the Arlington living shorelines project.

Public Art


[caption id="attachment_13578" align="alignleft" width="115"] watermark[/caption]

Fourteen "watermarks" were developed by Julie Bargmann, founder and principal of D.I.R.T studio, as a design enhancement to the Four Mile Run Restoration Project, intended to bring attention to stormwater outfall pipes underneath the trail that contribute to the stream flow. Each watermark makes the pipes symbolically visible to users of the Four Mile Run trail, highlighting the need for environmental stewardship and awareness in support of the Four Mile Run stream restoration efforts. The development of the "Watermarks" works resulted from a design study for the Four Mile Run stream area, funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts' Access to Artistic Excellence — Design grant.

[caption id="attachment_13563" align="alignright" width="145"] Fencing with widgets[/caption]

Dutch artists Tejo Remy and René Veenhuizen were commissioned to create a unique design enhancement for the fence surrounding the Water Pollution Control Plant, which serves as a landmark and resource for the community. The artwork, installed in 2015, consists of more than 800 linear feet of rippling fence panels, calling to mind the flow of water in and out of the facility. The panels are adorned with brightly colored "widgets," based on the designers' interpretation of tools and methods used at the plant to treat 30 million gallons of wastewater each day.

[caption id="attachment_13570" align="alignleft" width="70"] New seating at Four Mile Run[/caption]

A lenghty sculpture-like bench accompanies the fence enhancement and sits right along the bike trail for all to enjoy.

"Arlington Public Art is pleased to have worked with the Four Mile Run Restoration effort to provide two public art projects which serve to interpret and enhance the site. Julie Bargmann's "Watermarks" lends visibility to the natural paths of waterways now hidden in the urban environment, and Atelier Remy and Veenhuizen's "Ripple" fence enhancement and bench provide both visual delight and a welcome respite for trail users," said Angela A. Adams, director of public art for Arlington County.

More information: projects.arlingtonva.us/projects/four-mile-run-stream-restoration