Proposal would add bike lanes, shared-used path

In 2021, Charlottesville officials expect work on transforming the Emmet Street corridor between Ivy Road and Arlington Boulevard to begin. Before the final design process is conducted later this year, the conceptual plan is headed to the Planning Commission on Tuesday for a public hearing on its compatibility with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

The state awarded Charlottesville $12.1 million for the Emmet Streetscape in the first round of Smart Scale funding in 2016. The conceptual plan includes bike lanes on both side of Emmet; a buffered 10-foot asphalt multi-use path on the west side of the street; American Disabilities Act upgrades; and consolidated Charlottesville Area Transit and University Transit Services bus stops that would be placed outside of the travel lanes.

Between Massie Road and Arlington Boulevard, there is slated to be a multi-use path on both sides of Emmet, and the bike lanes north of the railroad overpass are slated to be raised.

At the 85-year-old railroad bridge, the multi-use path adjacent to the southbound lanes on Emmet will cross the tracks through a tunnel in the embankment, according to the streetscape presentation.

City staff said the decision to build the tunnel on that side was due in part to pedestrian counts on game days at the John Paul Jones Arena. Between 900 and 1,000 people walk on the west side of the road during those times, and the narrow walkway built into the current overpass is a pinch point, staff said.

emmet streetscape railroad to massie

A cross-section of the proposed changes to Emmet Street between the railroad over pass and Massie Road.

Credit: COURTESY CLARK NEXSEN

At Emmet Street and Ivy Road, the proposed intersection reconfiguration would feature a dedicated right-turn lane on southbound Emmet and the replacement of the slip lane from northbound Emmet to University Avenue with a conventional right-turn lane.

The project will not include the removal of any vehicular lanes on Emmet Street, but the speed limit between Ivy and Massie roads is proposed to be reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph, according to the streetscape presentation. About 26,000 vehicles per day use that stretch of Emmet, according to city staff.

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Charlottesville is working closely with the University of Virginia in the crafting of the project, according to city staff, as 95 percent of the property between Ivy Road and Arlington Boulevard belong to the university or its real estate foundation. Additionally, the university currently is crafting a plan for a 14.5-acre tract on the north side of Ivy Road from Emmet Street to Copeley Road. Demolition has begun on some of the buildings in this area, such as the former Cavalier Inn, and the first phase of UVa’s redevelopment plan deals with landscape architecture and stormwater infrastructure. Currently, there is no timeline for the construction of new buildings on the property.

Once completed, the Emmet Streetscape will add a piece to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which identifies a shared-use path between Ivy and Angus roads. Bike lanes along Emmet Street also are included in the city’s bikeway facility recommendations.

Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. More information on the streetscape project can be found at emmetstreetscape.com.