|Rep. Connolly (center) at the trail-naming ceremony.|
The 40-mile Cross County Trail is now known as the “Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail,” in recognition of the congressman’s strong support for open space and parkland, as well as his role in creating the trail. The name change occurred at a Fairfax County Park Authority ceremony June 7 at Laurel Hill Park in Lorton.
When the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to rename the trail after U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly last year, it cited his “countless contributions to parks during his tenure as the former chairman” of the BoS and his support for the environment. The board noted Connolly “is informally considered to be the ‘father’ of the CCT.”
In June 1999, when Connolly represented the Providence District on the BoS, he joined Fairfax trail advocates on a hike and agreed to push for the creation of a cross-county trail. His motion to do that won unanimous approval from the BoS.
After Connolly was elected BoS chair, he worked with the Park Authority and trail advocates to create the CCT, which follows the existing stream valley trail system belonging, for the most part, to the Park Authority.
The trail links existing trails with other public lands owned by the National Park Service, the Northern VirginiaRegional Park Authority, the City of Fairfax, Reston, and public sidewalks through each magisterial district in Fairfax County to form a continuous pedestrian and bicycling route from Great Falls on the Potomac River to the Occoquan River at the county’s border with Prince William County.
A section of the trail runs through the Annandale area at Wakefield Park.
Building on the success of the CCT, Rep. Connolly introduced the Complete America’s Great Trails Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation would establish tax incentives for landowners to grant public access and conservation easements in National Scenic Trail corridors.