By Sean Tubbs
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released a new draft of a key document required for the approval of an interchange to connect the
to the U.S. 250 bypass.
Because several historic and cultural resources will be affected by the interchange’s construction, the project is being reviewed by the FHWA as part a review process known as Section 106.
A “memorandum of agreement” will be signed between the FHWA, the City of Charlottesville, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The document lists what steps must be taken to mitigate the impacts of the interchange’s construction.
Council approved the interchange design in December 2009, authorizing the city manager to sign the MOA on their behalf.
Several properties will be affected by the construction of the interchange. Two are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the MOA suggests three others are eligible to be listed. The document acknowledges that
and the nearby Rock Hill landscape will be affected by the project.
The document suggested the following mitigations:
The MOA also lists several ways the interchange design must be altered to reduce impacts to the park and the landscape. These include:
The various signatories and concurring parties have until April 23 to submit comments on the document.
, with the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park, said his group would be meeting this week to discuss how to respond.
The MOA also describes the city’s portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway as being a separate project “in the same area as the FHWA undertaking.” The as-yet unsigned agreement notes that funding from the FHWA has not been used by the project. The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for supervising the Section 106 process for the parkway, which has a much larger impact on McIntire Park.
Opponents of the project maintain that both the parkway and the interchange should be considered as one project, but have been illegally segmented in order to lower the amount of federal scrutiny required. They are preparing for a federal lawsuit to stop the construction of both projects.
Meanwhile, the County’s 1.4 mile portion of the parkway is still under construction with a target completion date of October 14, 2011.