Last night, the Charlottesville City Council approved a second vehicular crossing of the Charlottesville Downtown Mall to be tested at 4th Street on a trial basis from May 2006 to May 2007.

A second crossing proposal had been

previously rejected by the City Planning Commission

.

The staff’s recommendations to City Council were as follows:

Costs for a temporary crossing are expected to be less than $20,000.  City Councilors questioned staff about the proposed data collection that would be conducted to follow-up on the trial.  One key source of data recommended by staff for evaluation of the trial is to collect “measurements of business activity” from Downtown Mall merchants.  Councilor Kevin Lynch suggested this would “essentially be a fiction” because the East end of the Mall has been under substantial construction.  He argued that if nothing was done related to a new vehicular crossing, retail sales should get a lot better anyway as the construction is completed.  Mr. Lynch argued a second crossing was not the appropriate step to be taking and said he believed the signage should be improved first to see if that improves traffic flows and awareness of the mall district.

Mayor David Brown expressed interest in the origin and destination data of vehicles crossing the Mall during this trial. He indicated his belief that the success of the Mall was not dependent upon City residents but rather upon making the Mall accessible to a larger community of visitors.


In the final motion, Councilors modified the recommendation from staff to indicate that the trial and study period be extended for an entire year from May 1, 2006 to May 1, 2007. The vote was 4-1 with Kevin Lynch against.

The pictures below depict the change in traffic flows that would be implemented as part of the new vehicular crossing.







Brian Wheeler


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