A multi-use trail built alongside Albemarle County’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway will not open at the end of this month as previously announced.
“We can’t open anything until we actually complete construction,” said Karen Kilby, program manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District.
At a council meeting in early June, City Councilor Satyendra Huja announced that the pedestrian trail would open by the end of July. Huja said VDOT officials had told him the trail could open before the road opens to vehicles.
However, the contractor working on the road will not complete all tasks in time to meet the goal of opening the trail by the end of July.
“Karen Kilby was certainly correct in saying that we can’t open the trail until the construction is complete, because it’s still an active construction area,” explained Lou Hatter, public affairs manager for VDOT in the Charlottesville area.
Hatter said in an interview that construction for the whole project would be completed around the second week of August, but that significant landscaping was needed before the trail could officially open.
Faulconer Construction has largely completed construction of the county’s portion of the parkway. The road was briefly open last October while a portion of East Rio Road was re-routed.
Key Construction was awarded a $3.37 million contract to build the city’s portion of the road, but work cannot start until VDOT complies with a requirement set in place as a result of a federal review of the road’s impact on historic and cultural resources.
“VDOT and its contractor will not conduct any ground-disturbing construction activity within … McIntire Park [until] all Section 106 consulting parties to the McIntire Road Extended project have had 30 calendar days to comment on the photographic documentation distributed on June 22,” Hatter said in an email.
Three lawsuits filed by the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park are pending in federal court. One contends that the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully broke the entire parkway project into three segments in order to avoid a full environmental review.
The second, filed in mid-June, alleges that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly issued a permit allowing the city’s portion of the road to proceed.
“VDOT plans to begin land clearing for the McIntire Road Extended project in the park before a decision on that motion will be reached,” said coalition member Peter Kleeman.
On Friday, the Coalition filed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent work in the park from getting underway.
Design work continues on the $33.5 million interchange, and the city hopes to advertise the project for construction bids by the end of the year.
The City Council has indicated it does not want the county’s portion of the road to open to vehicular traffic until all three segments are completed.
However, Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said in an interview in June that he wants the county’s portion to open as soon as it is ready.
“We have an overwhelming outpouring of people who say they don’t want a road to nowhere — a new, finished beautiful parkway that they can’t use for years while we wait for the city to catch up,” Boyd said.
In other news, VDOT has granted Albemarle County $3 million in revenue-sharing funds over the next two years toward a $4.7 million replacement of the Broomley Road bridge near the Ivy Nursery. The one-lane wooden bridge, owned by CSX, was damaged in 2007 by a passing train and now has a load limit that prevents use by the county’s first response firetrucks.
As part of the revenue-sharing agreement, the county will need to come up with $1.5 million to match the funds allocated by the state. Albemarle’s county executive, Tom Foley, said money could possibly come from the capital budget if the project were to be added as a priority.
“We might have to shift that money around to be sure that we can support that with our match,” Foley said.