The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors took action Wednesday night that soon could bring a pedestrian crosswalk across U.S. 250 on Pantops.
 
“It would connect the new State Farm Boulevard sidewalk across Route 250 to the sidewalk that runs parallel to Route 250 in front of Chick-fil-A,” said Blake Abplanalp, chief of the county’s project management division.
 
To pay for the crosswalk, Supervisor Norman Dill asked his colleagues if they would consider using money left over from a $900,000 project to build two sidewalks on Pantops, including a recently constructed stretch on State Farm Boulevard.
 
Crews have now moved on to build a sidewalk on the northern side of South Pantops Boulevard. That phase is expected to be completed sometime in December.
 
The projects were paid for through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue-sharing program that included a match from the county’s capital improvement program.
 
“Because the State Farm sidewalk project did not encounter any difficulties, like boulders or unmarked utilities, there is enough money to continue the path across Route 250 with an at-grade pedestrian walkway while the sidewalk crew is still on site there,” Dill said. 
 
Dill said there is currently no safe way for anyone to cross from one side of U.S. 250 to the other. For instance, people living on the north side of the road usually drive to access shopping and trails on the southern side.
 
“If everything goes according to plan, the contractor will be working on it soon,” he said.
 
Earlier this year, supervisors declined to move ahead with a feasibility study to build a pedestrian bridge on Pantops. Ever since, VDOT and county staff have been searching for a way to get a crosswalk somewhere along U.S. 250.
 
“It was kind of a brainstorming idea that we might be able to add an at-grade crossing on to this project,” said Trevor Henry, the county’s director of facilities and environmental management.
 
“This would work because there’s a traffic light and a pedestrian safe-haven,” he said. “VDOT has indicated a willingness to work with us on accelerating this through the approval process.”
 
Henry said the cost of the crosswalk is covered by a contingency built into the overall project cost.
 
“We believe the project approvals aren’t insurmountable and we can move this as a change-order,” Henry said.
 
Supervisors voted 5-0 Wednesday to agree to a change in scope for the plan.
 
The work could be expedited in part because the county has filled its transportation planner position.
 
“We are able to react to opportunities,” Henry said. “There’s been a lot of public outcry or engagement about somehow getting pedestrians safely across the road in that area.”
 
“We’re not asking for any more money,” Henry said. 
 
The change order could mean Albemarle will rescind a specific VDOT revenue-sharing application for the Pantops crosswalk made by the Board of Supervisors earlier this month.
 
A member of the Pantops Advisory Committee expressed pleasure with the news.
 
“The residents of Pantops are so happy that our requests for a crosswalk have been heard,” said Diane Berlin. “We are very grateful to our Board of Supervisors, especially Norman Dill, and for VDOT for acting quickly and creatively in locating the money so this project wasn’t put off or bogged down with a lot of red tape.”
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