At their meeting on September 17, 2008, the MPO Policy Board endorsed the City of Charlottesville’s efforts to secure federal funding for a pedestrian and bike bridge that would span a railroad line that bisects McIntire Park. The MPO also approved a new vision statement for the UNJAM 2035 plan , approved a priority statement to submit to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) and held a further discussion on appropriate meeting times.
Chris Gensic, the Parks and Trails Planner for the City of Charlottesville, appeared before the MPO to present a plan to build the bridge. The City is applying for Transportation Enhancement Act (TEA) funding to help pay for the project. A similar grant application was made last year, but the City did not receive funding.
The bridge would help complete a pedestrian and bike trail that the City is planning that would run from the “whale tail” sculpture at Meadowbrook Heights Road to McIntire Road. An existing bridge will connect the trail to US 29. Gensic said the structure is necessary because the bridge that carries the 250 bypass over the Norfolk Southern railroad is not wide enough to accommodate wider sidewalks or bike lanes.
“Effectively, if we get from Route 29 to this railroad, we can hop the railroad with this [McIntire Park] bridge and either go under 250 when the interchange is built and you come down Schenck’s Greenway and you’re at the Downtown Mall,” Gensic said. An additional benefit is that the two sides of McIntire Park would be connected. If the grant is obtained, Gensic said construction could be complete by the spring of 2011. He said its completion would be more or less at the same time that the Meadowcreek
Parkway is completed.
Gensic said he has letters of support from various neighborhood associations, the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation, and others. MPO Chairman David Slutzky (Supervisor-Rio) said he would ask the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to send a letter of support as well, even though the project is in the City.
Julia Monteith from the University of Virginia questioned the cost estimate of $250,000 provided in the application. Gensic said the project budget would also include money left over from a previous TEA grant to build the Coal Tower trail. The developer of the Coal Tower mixed-use complex near Belmont has agreed to pay for much of that trail, meaning there is money left over.
During the public hearing, ACCT Board Member Steven Bach said the project would become an important part of the region’s bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure. Bach added he was happy to see the County willing to support the project.
MPO ADOPTS NEW VISION STATEMENT FOR UNJAM2035
In July, the MPO Policy Board approved a draft vision statement for the MPO’s long-range constrained transportation plan – the United Jefferson Area Mobility Plan (UNJAM2035). In August, the MPO’s Citizens (CHART) committee decided to revisit the language in the statement. In September, they crafted the following:
The era of cheap oil is over. This fact, coupled with the adverse effects on our climate caused by the consumption of oil, will increase the need and demand for alternatives to the automobile.
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District’s transportation system will provide safe, sustainable, efficient and attractive multi-modal choices, support the movement of people, goods and services, and protect the environment, our communities and quality of life, while addressing regional and statewide transportation needs.
CHART member Bobby Burke said that the committee felt it was important to make a statement.
“We want to sort of get people thinking that they’re going to have to start conserving resources and also get them out of their cars,” said Burke after the MPO approved the new language.
TIMELINE FOR PODCAST