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Neighborhood seeks buffer from Meadow Creek interchange

Residents of a neighborhood that will be affected by the construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway’s interchange with the U.S. 250 Bypass have asked the City Council to keep them in mind as work begins on the $32-million project.

“Our biggest concern right now is the entrance corridor and the future planning of that area,” Mark Kavit, president of the North Downtown Residents Association, said at the council’s meeting last week.
 
Kavit spoke during a public hearing required because the council has been asked to allocate funds to allow the project to move to its next phase.
 
“We are confirming funding records so that the contract can be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder,” said Angela Tucker, the city’s development services manager.
 
General Excavation of Waynesboro submitted a $ bid to build the interchange, but cannot be officially awarded a contract until all of the project’s finances are secured. 
 
Last week, councilors were briefed on $2.6 million in additional allocations for the project. On Feb. 19, they will vote on whether to accept the allocations.
 
Among the additional allocations, the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority is planning to replace the Schenck’s Branch sewer line at the same location, and has contributed about $2.3 million to the city for coordination of both projects.
 
“A check has been received by the city for this amount and needs to be appropriated to the interchange account,” Tucker said.
 
The city planned to use a house on Hillcrest Road to serve as construction headquarters, but that plan had to be amended soon after the city obtained the house through eminent domain.
 
“After the tenants vacated the house, a car collided with the house,” Tucker said.
 
The $16,121 insurance check also must be allocated to the interchange account in order for the accounting to be complete.
 
During the public hearing, Ted Jones of Hillcrest Road said he wanted to ensure that all trees on the edge of the disturbance would be identified and protected, and that new trees would be planted to create a buffer.
 
“We want to ensure that there is a comprehensive tree protection plan in the construction documents so that before construction begins, those precautions are taken and we’re not waking up one morning and seeing there’s been massive destruction,” Jones said.
 
“Obviously, the interchange is a very complicated project that will significantly impact our vegetated buffer, a buffer that gives our neighborhood character,” Jones added. 
 
Councilor Kathy Galvin wanted to know if the city’s Tree Commission has been involved with the plan. 
 
Tucker said she has met with members of the Tree Commission to get their input.
 
“We have more than 35 planned sheets dedicated to landscaping plans and we’ve covered the best practices of tree protection in our special provisions,” Tucker said. “We’ve been fully aware their concerns about trees.”
 
Construction could get under way as soon as March.
 
Construction of the grade-separated interchange is expected to be finished by July 2015. When it is completed, the U.S. 250 Bypass will cross over the existing intersection. Access to and from the bypass will be via a pair of signalized intersections allowing pedestrians to reach McIntire Park.