Supervisor Ken Boyd and UVA’s Leonard Sandridge

As UVA Architect

David Neuman

walked into the August 16, 2007 Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) meeting, he grabbed Supervisor Dennis Rooker and jokingly asked, “How are you doing with my bridge?”  The railroad bridge near Ivy Nursery just off Route 250 West was recently damaged by a passing train and the County, VDOT and railroad officials are trying to determine how it can fund a long term repair.  For a couple days last week, Neuman and other Flordon residents faced a painful detour and learned that their bridge was not rated to support fire trucks.

However, Neuman and

Leonard Sandridge

, UVA’s Chief Operating Officer, had other transportation infrastructure matters to bring before the City and County officials in their quarterly PACC meeting.

Neuman asked the City and County each for $1 million for an

Ivy Road Gateway Enhancement Project

.

The University would match it with $1 million of their own if the City and County pursued matching funds from VDOT bringing the potential funding pool to $5 million.  UVA is not eligible for state matching funds.


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UVA officials want to dust off some of the recommendations from a 1994 joint study of the Ivy Road area because this entrance corridor is being used for an increasing number of visitors to the new John Paul Jones Arena and UVA’s future arts district being built at the Emmet Street intersection.


Neuman outlined the following project objectives

:

Albemarle County has a lengthy list of primary and secondary road priorities.  For the past couple of years there has been an intense effort by Albemarle officials to redirect all available local funding towards just three roads: the Meadowcreek Parkway; Georgetown Road; and Jarman’s Gap Road.  There is not a lot of money to go around.  Albemarle is expecting to receive only $3.7 million from the state this year for all secondary road projects.

Both of Neuman’s presentations to PACC this year have outlined a vision for the community’s future, and assessments of the significant dollars required to make those dreams a reality.  In February, Neuman gave a presentation of active UVA construction projects costing over $385 million and intended to address, he emphasized, “space deficiency” issues, not to accommodate growth in needed employees or additional students.

Often when City and County officials see those presentations by developers, they are trying to angle for cash proffer contributions as part of a rezoning request.  Despite the scale of these projects at UVA, proffers are not part of the equation for land being redeveloped by the University.  On land owned by the UVA Foundation, however, the City and County are hoping for a proffered contribution for a piece of the Fontaine Avenue-Sunset Connector.  That road will be used largely by UVA employees and other local commuters, not visitors to Charlottesville.  At this meeting, UVA made their case that enhancing Ivy Road should find a place on the community priority list.

Mayor

David Brown

and Supervisors

Ken Boyd

and

Dennis Rooker

all voiced support for efforts that would include improvements for bicycles and pedestrians in the corridor.  However, as the local leaders dealing with annual transportation funding challenges, and pressure from new development in the County on City roads, they were clearly in no position to promise any funding.

Supervisor Boyd said, “I certainly agree this is a worthwhile project to move forward with.  Unfortunately all of these when taken by themselves look like great projects for us to do and collectively it creates a real financial burden for us….We have to consider, how this [compares] in priority to all the other things we have going on.  It should be explored…”

Rooker also reflected on the funding challenges and suggested the community and UVA consider an “events tax.”

“There is obviously a funding tension between the various demands in the community.  On the one hand, we have projects that the City and County have a joint interest in, the Eastern Connector, the Southern Parkway, and roads like that that we are trying to get to a point where we can [fully] fund.  Our growth areas, which themselves have high demands for infrastructure….Then we have what I would call the normal road projects that are either putting down or creating new connections, new roads, widening, or repairing older roads.  All those are competing for money.  One thought might be, I’ll just put this on the table…kind of thinking out loud let’s say, would be the possibility of an events tax.  With the money from an events tax earmarked for transportation projects of mutual interest to the City, County and University.”

While they did not agree on a source of revenue, the PACC members did vote unanimously to send the Ivy Road project to their technical review committee for further study.  Rooker suggested an events or admissions tax should be a topic at a future PACC meeting.

Brian Wheeler

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