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Albemarle plans to rebuild road network at Belvedere; Supervisors updated on other capital projects

The man in charge of capital improvement projects in Albemarle County updated the Board of Supervisors last week on tens of millions of dollars in planned projects.

Trevor Henry, Albemarle’s director of facilities development, said one big surprise is cost overruns for a project to rebuild roads in the Belvedere neighborhood.
 
“It’s at a level of concern that requires the road [network] to be completely redone,” Henry said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget within the performance bond to do that, so we’ve been in a discussion with the owner and the developer.”
 
The road network in the Belvedere neighborhood was originally supposed to have been constructed by the original developer, Belvedere Station Land Trust. However, Wachovia Bank refused to renew letters of credit in 2009, resulting in the county taking over the project.
 
Henry’s office is now working to build the network, including completion of Belvedere Boulevard, with proceeds from a $3.6 million performance bond paid by the developer.
 
“It sat kind of dormant for a while hoping that the developer and bank would work [something] out,” Henry said. 
 
Serving as the “developer of last resort,” the county hired an engineer to move forward with construction of the network.
 
However, after a month of construction, the Virginia Department of Transportation and county inspectors identified concerns about the quality of asphalt.
 
Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said she is concerned the road is not wide enough for fire engines to pass when vehicles park on both sides of the street. The street is not in the state system yet, which means parking cannot be prohibited.  
 
“I would not want to wait for someone to burn up in order to get to that point in Belvedere,” Mallek said.
 
Henry said the road is becoming more highly traveled now that more homes are being occupied and will be even more used when the Senior Center builds a new facility there.
 
In other news, Henry said construction of the $8.9 million Crozet Library is well under way.
 
“We’re on schedule, we’re on budget, and we’re anticipating substantial completion in mid-July,” Henry said. The library will be ready to open in August 2013.
 
Furniture and equipment will be paid for by funds from the Friends of the Library, and Henry said their efforts are going well.
 
The second phase of a project to improve Crozet’s streetscape is moving forward with utilities being relocated this month. This will include a new stormwater drainage system, the building of the first block of Library Avenue, and improvements to the sidewalk between the Square to Tabor Street.
 
“This project has required us to work with 22 different property owners [but] it’s more than 22 parcels,” Henry said.
 
The $4.4 million project cannot go to bid until easements have been signed with all of those property owners.  
 
Henry said several sidewalks funded through the Virginia Department of Transportation revenue-sharing program are moving forward. These include a 3,500-foot-long sidewalk improvements on 
South Pantops Drive to State Farm Boulevard, which Henry said could go to bid in April.
 
Another project to build 1,100 feet of sidewalk on Crozet Avenue from Saint George Avenue to Crozet Elementary School is being paid for by the Safe Routes to School program. The project can go to bid as soon as VDOT has reviewed the plans.
 
The construction of the $2.2 million Ivy Fire Station adjacent to the University of Virginia Medical Center’s Northside facilty is nearing completion.
 
“We anticipate turning it over to the fire department in April,” Henry said. “They will do two or three months’ of shake-down operations and they have funding on July 1, 2013, to have their apparatus ready.”
 
The station has been built at an existing warehouse and will allow for two fire engines and one ambulance, and support facilities for six fire-rescue personnel.
 
Meanwhile, design work on an addition to the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department is under way. This would be a 10,500-square-foot expansion to add two more vehicle bays, additional living quarters and to bring the facility up to building code. Currently, the project has a cost estimate of $3.8 million.
 
“The budget on that is currently tracking what’s appropriated by about $115,000,” Henry said, adding that the project is going through value-engineering to try to bring the cost down. Henry said the project should be bid in May and will take a year of construction.
 
Henry’s office is also serving as the pass-through agent for the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center’s $800,000 transportation enhancement grant from VDOT. The project was halted in the spring of 2012 due to a cash-flow problem, but construction has resumed.
 
“We’ve experienced some delays over the past few weeks, but the building has been formed,” Henry said. “We’re anticipating a March to April time-frame to be substantially complete.”
 
However, County Executive Thomas C. Foley warned there could be further funding challenges.
 
“There are some uncertainties in the final funding but we’re working with the city, as well,” Foley said. “Hopefully, fund-raising will take care of those issues.”