District Avenue / Hydraulic roundabout receives Smart Scale funding

An update from Commissioner Rory Stolzenberg at the June 13, 2023 meeting of the Charlottesville Planning Commission prompted me to finally confirm what transportation projects will be moving forward in the area thanks to Smart Scale.

In late June, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to approve the latest Six Year Improvement Program. That includes funding for several projects to be paid for through the fifth round of the Smart Scale program. 

In January, the Virginia Department of Transportation released the preliminary scores for candidate projects. Since then, the projects were tweaked and reexamined and one project is now moving forward after initially not making the cut. 

“District Avenue and Hydraulic, the roundabout by the movie theater,” Stolzenberg said. “The latest is that it may be moved into funded in this Smart Scale round.”

That $20 million project was included in a May 2023 update that raised it above another $20 million project to improve the intersection of Peter Jefferson Place and U.S. 250 on Pantops. 

The District Avenue project is within close proximity to a project funded in Round 4 that will see various changes to Hydraulic Road including a roundabout at Hillsdale Drive.

“This project is a 2-1 hybrid roundabout at the intersection with Hydraulic Rd/Cedar Hill Rd, with full access on to Cedar Hill Road,” reads the description of the project included in the application. “It also provides crosswalks on all four legs of the intersection HAWK signals on both Hydraulic Road Crosswalks.” 

That stands for “High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon” for those interested in learning the jargon.  

Other projects approved:

  • Avon Street Multimodal Improvements funded at  $15,807,317 (MPO) (view application)
  • Belvedere Boulevard and Rio Road Intersection Improvements funded  $4,890,328 (Albemarle County) (view application)

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4 thoughts on “District Avenue / Hydraulic roundabout receives Smart Scale funding

  1. What the heck happened to the Hydraulic and Rte. 29 intersection upgrade/ overpass?

    1. How long of an answer do you want?

      Over ten years ago, the MPO Policy Board opted to prioritize Rio over Hydraulic. When the Western Bypass was terminated, funding that had been set aside for that project went to the next set of projects. The Rio project was fully funded out of that $230 million.

      During that time, VDOT changed the way they fund major projects. This is known as the Smart Scale process. After a few rounds, it was clear a project with a scope as large as a Hydraulic / U.S. 29 grade-separation would not receive funding that way.

      So the project was split into several components which are intended to satisfy some of the “purpose and need” that would have been met with the H/29 grade-separation. Some of these were funded in Round 4 and some were funded in Round 5. I hope to have updates on those at some point.

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