New VDOT leader for Charlottesville area

And a quick look at what projects are funded

When the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board next meets, there will be a new person representing the Virginia Department of Transportation. Sean Nelson will become the new district engineer for VDOT’s Culpeper District, which spans nine counties.

“I am honored to return to Culpeper District as the district engineer and look forward to working with our talented teams and valued community partners,” Nelson is quoted in a September 30 press release. “I was born and raised in Louisa and am now raising my family there. I am proud to come home and am committed to making a difference in this region.”

Nelson’s last post was as the maintenance engineer for VDOT’s Richmond District. In the new job, he will be in charge of “construction, maintenance and operations maintenance, project development and business functions of nearly 10,500 lane miles.” 

VDOT manages road construction projects in all of those counties, including six projects being designed and built under one contract in Albemarle County. However, Charlottesville manages its own construction projects and has been the recipient of multiple projects under Smart Scale. 

Sean Nelson (Source: VDOT)

Last month, Council signaled it would likely forgo $3.25 million in VDOT funds for the first phase of the West Main Streetscape and $4 million for the second phase. Both required a match of local funding, funding which will now be transferred to a $75 million project to renovate Buford Middle School.

This summer, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $10.8 million for the third phase of West Main Street, which requires no match. It is unclear if that phase will move ahead. All of the phases were designed as part of a $2.85 million planning study overseen by Rhodeside & Harwell. 

Construction on the Belmont Bridge finally got underway this summer after many years of planning. There are many other open VDOT projects in Charlottesville that have not gone to construction. 

The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the October 5, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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