Planning continues for safety improvements on Fifth Street in Charlottesville

Topic discussed at closed-door meeting of Albemarle, Charlottesville, and UVA staff

For those interested in infrastructure planning, not all meetings are open to the public. The Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee is made up of staff and appointed officials from Albemarle County, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia. They gather once a month behind closed doors to talk about issues of regional interest. This was the spirit of a 1986 document called the Three Party Agreement.  (view the Three Party Agreement)

At the most recent LUEPC meeting on September 16, city traffic engineer Brennen Duncan gave an update on the city’s planning for projects to address safety issues on Fifth Street, a four-lane divided highway that runs between downtown and Harris Road. The city did not submit an application for funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process as part of a deal to boost the city’s project management capabilities. (view the presentation

Relations between Albemarle, Charlottesville, and the University of Virginia are still governed by the 1986 Three Party Agreement. (view the Three Party Agreement)

At the most recent LUEPC meeting on September 16, city traffic engineer Brennen Duncan gave an update on the city’s planning for projects to address safety issues on Fifth Street, a four-lane divided highway that runs between downtown and Harris Road. The city did not submit an application for funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process as part of a deal to boost the city’s project management capabilities. (view the presentation

The delay also gives more time for a project to be selected. Three other projects are funded in the area and the goal is to coordinate all of them to improve conditions. 

“In that area, there have been 95 crashes since 2017 and 2022,” said Planning Commissioner and LUEPC member Hosea Mitchell. “Four people have died in crashes and six people have been hurt pretty badly.”

Mitchell said potential solutions include roundabouts, guardrails, a road diet, bike lane enhancements, and photo-speed monitoring to enforce the 40 mile per hour speed limit. 

“We are waiting on some direction and input from Council as to which of these, any or all of these improvements and fixes we’re going to embrace,” Mitchell said. 

An overview of the various projects on Fifth Street in Charlottesville (view the presentation) 

Another reason for the delay is the need for staff to work on the planning for such projects. NDS Director James Freas announced a new transportation planner will start work on November 1. 

Commissioner Mitchell also relayed information about the Rio Road Corridor Study as well as the planned improvements at Hydraulic Road and U.S. 29.

There are no recordings of the September 16 meeting of the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee, nor will there ever be such a recording because it is a closed meeting. But, there are some slides from a presentation from Albemarle County Planning Manager Kevin McDermott. (view those slides)

Albemarle County has a Smart Scale funded project further south to build a roundabout at the intersection of Fifth Street Extended and Old Lynchburg Road. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has a Smart Scale funded project for improvements on its portion of Fifth Street. 


Before you go: 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 13, 2022 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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