W&OD Trail detour in Ashburn nears for power line replacement

The path to outdoor exercise and beauty will require an 8-mile detour soon for users of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail in Ashburn, Virginia, to allow Dominion Energy to replace power lines. (Courtesy Dominion Energy)

The path to outdoor exercise and beauty will require an 8-mile detour soon for users of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail in Ashburn, Virginia, to allow Dominion Energy to replace power lines.

From April 11 through April 15, the 4-mile stretch of W&OD Trail between Claiborne Parkway in Ashburn and Tuscarora Park in Leesburg will be off-limits for walkers, runners and cyclists.



Dominion Energy will be replacing overhead wires, called conductors, on one side of the transmission structures along the trail. Line workers will use bucket trucks to climb the structures to remove the old conductor and install a new one.

“We will be in there with some heavy equipment,” said construction coordinator Paul Schmeling. “If we can’t access a structure with our trucks then we’ll climb them, old school, so you might see workers up in the air, hanging off ladders, going up and down the structure.”

Schmeling said the work of pulling out the old wire, which was installed in the 1980s, and replacing it with new wire requires closing off the area to the public.

“The wire weighs a lot — about 4,000 pounds per span,” Schmeling said. “While that’s moving overhead, we can’t have anybody on the trail.”

Trail users will be detoured approximately 8.5 miles onto streets, sidewalks and shared-use paths, according to Dominion. Flaggers and spotters will be onsite, and detour signs will be posted to point exercisers in the right direction.

The detour doubles the distance someone will have to walk, run, or pedal: “Otherwise, you’d just have to go to another section of the trail.”

The W&OD Trail runs 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville. Its maintained trail is administered and maintained by NOVA Parks.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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