Council also approved the design for the $11.7 million Fontaine Avenue Streetscape, a project funded by VDOT’s Smart Scale in 2017 that is working through the long process from idea to construction. Kyle Kling is a transportation planning manager for the City of Charlottesville.
“In January of 2020, Council accepted the Planning Commission’s recommendation that this project’s conceptual design was found to be in accordance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” Kling said.
But what is the project, and what will it do for the half-mile stretch of Fontaine Avenue from city limits to where the roadway becomes Jefferson Park Avenue? Owen Peery is an engineer with design firm RK&K.
“In line with the City of Charlottesville’s overall transportation goals, the project seeks to make Fontaine Avenue a complete street which should produce accommodations for all users,” Peery said. “Ensuring safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists, understanding that this serves as a gateway corridor into the city and ensuring the impression is attractive and improving access to local facilities and ensuring these facilities are easily accessed by pedestrians, bicyclist, and transit users.”
Final design will continue while property is acquired for public right of way, and construction would begin sometime in 2023.
Councilor Michael Payne had a question about something not in the plan.
“I’ve been reading through some of the community feedback and there are a couple of people who have raised the question of why these aren’t protected bike lanes with bollards or some kind of physical separation between the bike lane and the road where cars are,” Payne said.
Kling said the main reason is the need to keep the travel lanes accessible to emergency vehicles given the presence of the Fontaine fire station.
“We felt that if we were to put 11-foot travel lanes out there with some type of separated facility restricting access, it would make it more challenging for those vehicles to travel the corridor when needed,” Kling said.
The other reason is the presence of lots of driveways along the roadway, which would need to be closed.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker asked City Manager Chip Boyles to ask the University of Virginia to contribute financially if there are any cost overruns. Specifically, she suggested the city could ask to transfer some of UVA’s $5 million commitment for the fourth phase of West Main Street.
“There’s a lot of traffic in that area due to their work too that maybe that could be transferred,” Walker said. “I think its a conversation that is worth having,” Walker said.
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