The Belmont Bridge has carried the weight of Charlottesville vehicles and pedestrians for almost 60 years and for the past 17 years, the city has attempted to develop and carry out the plans to replace it. 

On Monday, the City Council heard the first of two readings for funding appropriations of over $15 million to replace the deteriorating bridge over Water Street and the Buckingham Branch Railroad. Council motioned to move the item to the consent agenda in its next meeting on Aug 17. 

Monday’s appropriations were composed of about $12 million in state funding and about $3 million in federal funding. Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. has overseen the proposed project since early 2017 after the original design consultants, MMM Design, folded in 2014. Gearing up for actual construction, final designs are being reviewed by city staff and the Virginia Department of Transportation and Kimley-Horn will seek a contractor beginning in the fall. 

The designs, which the city approved in 2018, feature one car lane in each direction and buffers separating them from two bike lanes and sidewalks. Ramps and stairs on the north end of the bridge will connect that sidewalk to the Downtown Mall and Water Street.

The project’s total funding is expected to total around $31 million made of a combination of local, state, and federal funding due to Charlottesville’s participation in the Urban Construction Initiative Program with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

UCI program manager Jeanette Janiczek said it would take a few months to receive and verify bids before VDOT would audit and officially award a contract. 

“You would start to see activities in I would say February or March,” she said of when tangible work on the project would become visible to passersby.

The project is expected to be completed in 2023. For more information, click here.

With the structural integrity of the bridge deteriorating over time, the replacement project has also been years in the making: 

  • 2003: Charlottesville determines the Belmont Bridge needs replaced due to deterioration
  • 2008/2009: MMM Design chosen as design consultant for the project
  • 2010-2014: public engagement happens, various designs are debated
  • 2014: MMM Design goes out of business
  • 2017: Kimley-Horn takes over project, solicits public engagement
  • 2018: City approves bridge design
  • 2019: Board of Architecture Review grants certificate of appropriateness

Charlotte Rene Woods

I was Charlottesville Tomorrow’s government reporter from 2019 to 2022. Thanks for letting me be your resident nerd on how local and state governments serve us. Keep up with me @charlottewords on Twitter. If you haven’t yet, consider subscribing to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s FREE newsletter to get updates from the newsroom on the things you want to know.