Some in this growing community might say that there’s a need for new road connections or improvements to the existing ones. Transportation planning is one of my favorite topics to cover, and please ask questions in the comments. There’s a learning curve.
At their meeting on April 5, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors got an update on several projects.
Work continues at the Virginia Department of Transportation to finalize a list of new transportation projects that will be funded through the Smart Scale process that’s currently in its fifth round.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board will get an update at their meeting next week in Bristol and will vote on the final selections at their meeting in June.
But several items are recommended for funding in the area as I reported in January.
- Avon Street Corridor Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements: Druid Avenue to Avon Court (priority #10)
- Belvedere Boulevard/Rio Road Intersection Improvements (priority #17)
- US 250/Peter Jefferson Parkway Intersection Improvements and Access Management (priority N/A)
“Things may change between now and when the Commonwealth Transportation Board meets and makes their final decisions in June,” said Jessica Hersh-Ballering, a transportation planner with Albemarle.
At any given moment, planning is underway for future candidates for Smart Scale and other VDOT funding sources. In March, Supervisors approved a rezoning for a 525-unit development on Old Ivy Road despite opposition from neighboring residents who are concerned about that level of intensity overwhelming the transportation corridor.
“VDOT’s Project Pipeline program is designed to develop a pipeline of high-priority projects that address identified VTRANS needs and may be considered for implementation through Smart Scale, revenue-sharing, or other funding mechanisms,” Hersh-Ballering said.
A study of the U.S. 29 / U.S. 250 / Old Ivy Road and Ivy Road is one of two pipeline studies about to begin in Albemarle County. A proposed solution that was unveiled to the public a month or so before the apartment complex was approved is not being pursued at this time. (learn more)
“The proposed triangle-about is on hold until this study is complete,” Hersh-Ballering said. “Ultimately this study will take a more comprehensive look at the whole area to improve operations and access more broadly. It may or may not include the triangle-about in the future.”
The second pipeline study will be for the Barracks Road corridor between Georgetown Road and Emmet Street.
Other transportation news:
- Albemarle County is still negotiating the final paperwork with the Federal Highway Administration for a $2 million grant for planning for a shared-use path between the Blue Ridge Tunnel, Crozet, and Charlottesville. Hersh-Ballering said the county hopes to issue a request for proposals for a consultant to work on the plan by the end of the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2024.
- A consultant has been hired to do engineering work for a new loop road at the Lambs Lane Campus which will include bike and pedestrian improvements on Hydraulic Road. Funding for this study comes from the Board of Supervisors’ strategic reserve. This is part of the master plan conducted last year.
- The final cost estimate will soon be ready for full implementation of conversion of Free Bridge Lane to a car-free promenade. I reported on this effort in March. In the meantime, staff is preparing a pilot program for Supervisors to review in the near future.
- Planning is underway for a shared use path on Route 20 from Quarry Road to Route 53. Two concepts will be advanced for a stretch of road where a previous Smart Scale application had been developed but later withdrawn. That project would have put pedestrians and cyclists in the median, and the next one could as well according to Hersh-Ballering. Though she added the consultant will also look at the eastern side of the road.
Recently proposed Fontaine Avenue project is critiqued
At the February 2023 closed-door meeting of the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee, area planning staff were shown VDOT’s latest concept to try to address concerns at the intersection of Fontaine Road and U.S. 29/250. Here’s my story. Here’s the presentation. Now it appears they are backing off.
“Recently there’s been some concern from stakeholders including [the University of Virginia] that the design of a displaced left-turn wouldn’t meet the long-term needs of a rapidly growing area,” Hersh-Ballering said. “So Albemarle County staff are currently working with fellow stakeholders and VDOT to determine next steps for that project.”
Those long term needs include a Fontaine Research Park that will be the home of a new biotechnology center. The City of Charlottesville is also increasing the building potential on its section of Fontaine in its rezoning rewrite.
Supervisor Ann Mallek was on the Board of Supervisors on September 8, 2010 when the UVA Foundation was successful in having a zoning approved. That came with proffers. (Board approves expansion for Fontaine Research Park, Charlottesville Tomorrow, September 9, 2010,
“They proffered substantial financial investments in whatever the lights and stuff to stop the difficulty of people not being able to get out of the exit ramp from the 29 bypass going south and all those circulation things,” Mallek said.
Those proffers are listed here and include installation of traffic lights.
“It is really important that we get that money committed to these projects,” Mallek said. “Yes there’s a whole new cast of characters at both the University and her with new staff and everything but they’re bringing a massive new to that with the whole biomedical center that they’re putting up there in top of what is there today.”
In June, Hersh-Ballering will return to the Board of Supervisors with a newly-reordered priority list as well as a set of recommendations for what to apply for through VDOT’s revenue sharing program for which applications are due later this year.
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