By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The

Charlottesville City Council

will ask the

Virginia Department of Transportation

to take over

a $4.7 million project

to provide congestion relief at the U.S. 29/250 bypass.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” said

James Rich

, the area’s representative on the

Commonwealth Transportation Board

. “We can get this project going so we can get people moving through that terrible back-up.”

Council voted Monday night to send a letter to VDOT to begin negotiations for the transfer.




Download Maurice Jones letter to James Utterback

The project, which is currently being administered by city staff, would add an additional southbound lane on U.S. 29 from Hydraulic Road to the interchange, a second ramp leading up to the U.S. 250 Bypass near the Best Buy and a third lane on the bypass that would extend to the Barracks Road exit.

The city has saved up $4.2 million in state, federal and its own funds for the project. The transfer would allow some of that money to be transferred to other projects.

“The money that we were going to spend on this project can be used for other projects, such as the Belmont Bridge [replacement],” said City Councilor

Satyendra Huja

, a member of the

Metropolitan Planning Organization

.


Jim Tolbert

, the city’s director of neighborhood development services, said the project has been managed by his staff under VDOT’s First Cities program. He told council a final design for the project had not been done because a $1 million proffer from the developer of the

Shops at Stonefield

had not been received.

“We’ve not gone forward on this project because a city-state agreement says we have to spend the developer’s proffer money first, and we don’t have [that],” Tolbert said.

Edens & Avant, Stonefield’s developer, does not have to transfer the money to the city until Albemarle County approves a final site plan.

If VDOT takes over the project, its internal engineers will be able to produce the final design.

Each member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board has some amount of discretionary funding to allocate toward specific projects.

“Some of our projects are coming in under budget and we can use those funds for the 29/250 improvements,” Rich said.

Albemarle County Supervisor

Dennis S. Rooker

applauded the move.

“VDOT has the ability to move this project forward expeditiously, and I also think it increases the chances of getting additional primary road funds for its completion,” Rooker said. “It is very important that this project move forward in a timely manner.”

The city will continue to administer the

Belmont Bridge replacement

. The cost estimate for that project was recently increased from $9.8 million to $14.5 million due to inflation.