By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

City Council has directed its staff to work with the firm designing the

Meadowcreek Parkway Interchange

to add a second sidewalk to the project. That feature was removed as part of an effort to lower the cost and scope of the interchange, as were other design elements to separate pedestrians and cyclists from traffic on McIntire Road and the Parkway.

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A rendering of the design shown to Council shows how the interchange would look looking south towards downtown Charlottesville.(Source: RK&K)

In June 2008,

Council selected a grade separated diamond interchange

as its preference for a final design. A steering committee made up of citizens and elected officials

had recommended an oval roundabout

after spending two and a half years debating the finer points of how the interchange should serve not only cars but pedestrians and cyclists.

Part of the reasoning behind Council’s decision was an effort to reduce the scope of the project to reduce costs and to limit the impact to

McIntire Park

and other cultural resources.

“It’s been a challenge to fit this interchange within the four quadrants with all of them having important community resources,” said City transportation planner Jeanette Janiczek. “We’ve been directed by

City Council

and the public to limit the impacts on the environment, the neighborhoods, historic resources as well as the park.”

Council made several design decisions at that meeting in June 2008. The drawing for their selected alternative original showed an interchange that had a much larger scope according to Janiczek. She told them the bridge would have been 223 feet long and 30 feet high, and the interchange would have taken up about 8.5 acres of McIntire Park.

A decision was made to move the trail to the western side of McIntire Road in order to reduce the number of stream crossings, and to shorten and lower the bridge’s span. Under this alternative, only 7 acres of McIntire Park would be affected. However, as a result, the pedestrian trail was placed at-grade with the on-ramps that will lead to the 250 Bypass.

Nearly 150 people commented as part of the design public hearing in held in October, according to Janiczek.

“The size of the interchange was not questioned, but the public did comment that the pedestrian and bicycle facilities were not sufficiently accommodated,” Janiczek said.

Under the new design shown to Council on Monday night, the trail would continue the Schenck’s Branch greenway north, where it would cross through the two traffic signals and underneath the 250 bridge

A birds-eye rendering of the interchange design shown to Council (Source: RK&K)


David Brown

wanted to know what happened with a pedestrian bridge across the parkway that had been depicted early on in the design process. Janiczek said when the decision was made to use traffic signals as opposed to a roundabout, it was thought pedestrians could safely cross through the interchange using signalized crosswalks. She added the bridge would have required many switchback trails that in order to meet the Americans with Disability Act requirements. That was deemed to be too expensive.


Dave Norris

said he was disappointed that the trail shown with the interchange plans does not continue north past the

Vietnam Memoria

l. Janiczek said a north-bound trail could not co-exist with the Meadowcreek golf course, the fate of which has not yet been determined.

“Trails normally aren’t conducive to golf course uses, yet [the eastern half of McIntire Park] hasn’t been master planned and we don’t want this roadway project to drive how the rest of the park is planned and designed,” Janiczek. That master plan, which will determine the future of the golf course, will be developed next spring.


Satyendra Huja

asked if an eastern trail could be added as well. Janiczek said she would work with design firm RK&K to make the requested changes.

Norris said he would be voting against the interchange, but that he wanted the design to be the best possible.

“If we’re going to build it, we need to do it the right way,” Norris said.

Janiczek said she would be prepared to return before Council with an amended design at their next meeting on December 7, 2009.


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