Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia should develop a list of regional projects in order to improve the community’s chances of obtaining funding from President Barack Obama’s proposed economic stimulus. That was the consensus reached at a January 15, 2009 meeting of the Planning and Coordination Council’s Technical Committee (PACC-TECH).
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PACC-Tech is a subcommittee of the Planning and Coordination Council, a quasi-government entity that allows for the exchange of planning ideas between all three jurisdictions. Wayne Cilimberg, the County’s Director of Planning, handed out two sheets that listed the City and the County’s proposed list of priorities.
The City has identified $64.6 million worth of projects
that could be ready to go within 90 days if funding materializes. The County’s list totals $168.7 million, split between transportation ($30.6 million), urban infrastructure ($79.5 million) and schools ($58.4 million). Cilimberg did not have a list for the University of Virginia. He added that no one knows the rules for how funding will be distributed.
Cilimberg said the County will likely focus on projects that will address the development area’s urban infrastructure. He added that many of the County’s potential projects would overlap with City and University interests. For instance, a $1.1 million project to add sidewalks to Old Ivy Road is included on the list.
Ridge Schuyler, District Director for Congressman
(D-5), met recently with County Executive Bob Tucker and Facilities Development Manager Bill Letteri. Cilimberg reported that Schuyler suggested the City, County and University develop a regional list of priorities.
Jim Tolbert, the City’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services, said that many of the City’s proposed projects would fit that description. The City’s wish list contains $22 million worth of road projects, including the first phase of the Hillsdale Connector, safety improvements to Old Lynchburg Road, and a reworking of the intersection of West Main Street and Jefferson Park Avenue. Tolbert supported the idea of all three jurisdictions joining forces.
Lauren Hildenbrand, the City’s Utiliites Director, pointed out that the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s upgrade to the Moores Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant should also be considered as a possibility. The project, which will reduce the level of organic compounds that are released into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, will be ready to go to bid in February.
Rick Rice, UVA’s Deputy Chief Facilities Officer, told the group that he was not ready to make any comments regarding candidates for stimulus funding. He said lists have been developed, but nothing has been approved by top UVA officials. However, he said the University did have a number of “shovel-ready” projects, most notably in infrastructure. UVA Architect David Neuman said there is a list, but it’s not ready for public consumption. Neuman said the University’s list was likely to be much different than the City and County’s because funding will likely come through channels only open to localities.
However, Neuman said the University’s list includes projects such as
, Old Ivy Road, an extension of Stadium Road for transit, improvements to JPA. He said the University always has a queue of projects ready to go because of the uncertainties of state funding.
City Planning Commissioner Mike Farruggio recommended putting the emphasis on multimodal connections that would link all three jurisdictions.
Tolbert said that while the lists are likely to be long and symbolic, by prioritizing projects now the community can demonstrate that its serious infrastructure needs are not being met. Tom Foley said the region could likely attract more attention if it presents a unified project list, perhaps through the MPO Policy Board. Tolbert made a motion to recommend that the PACC approve the development of such a list at its meeting in February. Rick Rice abstained from the vote because he was uncertain how to mesh the City and County’s efforts with the University’s.
City Resident Jeanne Chase made an appeal to include the Fontaine Avenue-Sunset Connector on the list. Tolbert acknowledged the project’s regional importance, but said it was nowhere near being ready to build.
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