At their meeting on August 20, 2008, the MPO Policy Board adopted its
Transportation Improvement Program for FY2009
, was briefed by area transit services, and agreed to move its monthly meeting to the CitySpace location in the Market Street Parking Garage.
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Beginning on October 22, 2008, the MPO Policy Board will begin holding its meetings in the CitySpace. The City of Charlottesville, which owns the venue, has agree to waive its rental fee. However, the move will mean the MPO’s meetings will now be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month rather than the third Wednesday.
This was the first MPO meeting attended by Jim Utterback, VDOT’s new Culpeper District Administrator. Mac Lafferty is now the new representative from the CHART Committee.
“We had a very good year last year,” said Bill Watterson as he began his bi-monthly report on the Charlottesville Transit Service. Ridership increased 12 percent and totaled just over 1.7 million passengers. He also announced that new services would begin on Saturday, August 23, 2008:
“All of these changes are responding to comments from the public in terms of service improvements,” Watterson said. “We certainly hope that this is going to add to our success with building ridership.”
Watterson also updated the MPO on the status of CTS’s new operations center on Avon Street extended. The lowest bid for the project came was over the project’s $15.56 million budget, according to the City’s construction report for August. “We’re going to have to do some design changes in order to keep the cost in line,” Watterson said.
CTS has recently placed eight new 35-foot buses, one 29-foot bus, one mini-bus, and one new trolley into service. An auction will be held in September to sell five buses. Some existing buses will be having new engines installed to increase their service life.
“We actually have a reasonably young fleet, particularly now with the insertion of these new buses,” Watterson said. He added that the larger buses have a lifespan of 12 years or 500,000 miles, while the smaller mini-buses only last 150,000 miles or four years.
MPO ADOPTS TIP
The TIP is a list of all of the transportation projects within the MPO’s jurisdiction that will receive federal funding over the next year. This includes new highway construction, road maintenance projects, as well as bike lanes and sidewalks. The TIP describes each project and gives an accounting of how much money has been expended to date or is expected in the future.
The first item listed in the TIP is the Western Bypass, a project that has received no money for construction and is widely thought to be defunct and obsolete. The bypass is still listed because $47 million has been spent to date to acquire right of way for the highway.
With funding in short supply, many projects in the TIP show little or no funds allocated. This year, an new category called “illustrative transportation projects” was created as a wish-list for projects that the MPO desires, but has not yet identified a federal funding source. These include a grade separated interchange at Hydraulic Road and US 29, the Fontaine-Sunset Connector, and the Southern Parkway. However, this list also includes projects that are at various stages of planning, ranging from the Eastern Connector to the multi-use trail between the Downtown Transit Center to Meade Avenue. City Trails Planner Chris Gensic is applying for Transportation Enhancement Act (TEA) funds to complement the funds being contributed by the City as well as a private developer.
The TIP has been the subject of two previous public hearings. Comments were made by two citizens, but neither were made directly to the contents of this year’s TIP. CHART member Robert Burke encouraged the MPO to consider adding a placeholder for the
should that project come to fruition. Gerry Deily suggested that if a
pedestrian bridge is ever built over the Rivanna River
south of Free Bridge, that it be strengthened to allow buses to cross.
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