City Council has voted to spend half a million dollars on a series of road improvements on US 29 near its intersection with the 250 Bypass. The money will allow staff to apply for revenue sharing from the Virginia Department of Transportation to help pay for the upgrades.
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City Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert said the City has been awarded up to $1,000,000. Tolbert said that money, plus $500,000 proffered from Albemarle Place, can help pay for three road improvements recommended by the 29H250 study to help traffic flow:
A new lane on southbound US 29 from Hydraulic Road to the 250 Bypass
An additional lane on the Best Buy Ramp to westbound 250 Bypass
An additional lane on westbound 250 Bypass from the Best Buy Ramp to Barracks Road
In December 2006, City Council directed staff to begin work on the project. The City’s new traffic engineer, Jeannie Alexander, has been studying the issue along with RKK, the engineering firm in charge of the Meadowcreek Parkway Interchange committee. Tolbert told Council that a fourth component has been factored into the project – integration of traffic signals through the corridor.
“One of the problems with the bypass and the ramp is the fact that quite often cars release onto 29 going south to go up the ramp at about the time they release at Hydraulic and 250, and so they meet at the top of the ramp. The signal timing will eliminate that and be a step in the right direction,” he said.
To get the $1,000,000 in state funding, Tolbert said the city would need to provide a match. Half of that match will come from $500,000 proffered by Frank Cox for Albemarle Place, and the other half will need to come from the city’s Capital Improvement Projects fund. Tolbert told Council Cox has also agreed to use his engineering team prepare the designs for the improvements, which he said would amount to an in-kind contribution worth $300,000. “This also speeds us up and takes us out of months of months of going through the state and federal procurement process because the engineering would be donated,” he said.
“This is one of the key first-in-line projects recommended by the 29H250 study to clear up southbound traffic on 29,” he said. Tolbert said the City would have to act quickly in order to take advantage of the Albemarle Place proffer, which he says was originally going to be used to make improvements to 29 Northbound in front of Seminole Commons. “We need to give them an answer so the county can amend those proffers.”
Councilor Norris asked if the improvements would make it possible for buses to drop off passengers without blocking traffic. Jeannie Alexander said the designers will be looking into that. Councilor Lynch suggested a bus pull-out south of Angus Road, after the traffic light, though he acknowledged that may not be compatible with the dual turn-lane on the Best Buy ramp.
Councilor Taliaferro asked if the improvements would reduce cut-through traffic that currently travels through the Meadows subdivision. Tolbert responded that people take cut-throughs to avoid difficult intersections. “If this makes the Angus intersection flow better, I think people will be more use this to try to get to Barracks Road.”
The additional southbound lane on US 29 between Hydraulic Road and the
250 bypass will come from existing right of way along the current
median. City Planner Angela Tucker says the long-term plan called for
in the 29H250 Study is to build a “single-point urban interchange” at
the intersection of Hydraulic and US 29.
Councilor Taliaferro also briefed members on the status of the Streetcar Task Force. He said the panel’s report is being delayed until a dedicated staffer can look at the financial and technical issues. He requested for Council to spend $5,000 from Council reserve to pay for additional resources to help speed the process along. Council voted on a motion to grant the funding.