Trail Waiver# 9103-WTL-001-1:
Howard Gardner School

4913 Franconia Road

  Article Prepared By Robert Michie
Sidewalk and Trails Committee, Lee District
Last Reviewed: 25 July 2009
Revision 1.0


Howard Gardner School is a small, independent high school for grades 9 to 12 in Alexandria, Virginia. It has an enrollment of approximately 40 students. Its instruction hours begin at 9:00 AM and can extend to approximately 5:00 PM. The school's website says that it makes heavy use of local Rose Hill institutions, such as John Marshall Library, Rose Hill Shopping Center, and Lee District Park. Gardner School is currently in Phase II of an expansion program that will eventually provide the School with a new 5,000 square foot classroom building. The Special Exception (9003-SP-001-1) triggered the Trails requirement.  The applicant is required to provide an 8-foot wide Type 1 trail along its property frontage, and an on-road bike lane. Applicant’s request: Expand the existing 4' concrete sidewalk to 5' to satisfy the major paved trail requirement, and waive the requirement for the School to build the bike lane:

  1. The applicant says that the sidewalk on both sides of the parcel are currently 4' wide.

  2. The applicant dedicated 6' of right-of-way for the bike lane in 2007 should either VDOT or Fairfax County wish to widen Franconia Road in the future.

[ Map of Gardner School Area ]

Map 1: Map of Subject Area


Franconia Road has sidewalks on its North and South sides for most of its four mile length. These sidewalks were constructed with widths varying from three feet ten inches to eight feet wide. The width in the vicinity of Gardner School is four feet. The School sits directly across the street from Bush Hill Presbyterian Church, which was the subject of a Trails Report in 2007. Also nearby is Thomas Edison High School, which was reported on in 2008.

A sidewalk at this width is not adequate for bicycle use. It does not allow two bicycles to pass abreast, and it is hardly wide enough to allow two pedestrians to pass abreast, either.

The School has a point about the width of the other sidewalks in the area. The Trails and Sidewalks committee has been pushing hard to get all sidewalks to follow the County-mandated design. We often run into issues whenever Virginia DOT right-of-way is involved. Gardner School's frontage is estimated at about 174 feet, which makes it one of the larger private properties on Franconia Road.  Five foot sidewalks are being retrofitted in the area wherever space is an issue. The Committee wants the trend of widening all sidewalks to continue.

Field Check  25 July 2009

[ Gardner School Franconia Road Frontage ] Photo 1: Franconia Road, North Side, facing Southeast. The Sidewalk segment is approximately 175 Feet Long. The photo shows approximately  3/4 of the frontage.
[ Existing Sidewalk looking West to Rose Hill ] Photo 2: Franconia Road, South Side, facing West. Gardner School is the converted farmhouse on the left. Rose Hill Shopping Center is in the distance.



Approve the Waiver for the following reasons:

  1. Gardner School is on the record agreeing to widen its sidewalk to five feet.
  2. Gardner School dedicated six feet along its frontage for a future bike lane.



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