When a transit consultant hired by the city of Charlottesville unveiled proposed routes in December as part of a system redesign, it did not recommend running a bus along the eastern portion of Rio Road in Albemarle County.
However, county officials are seeking ways to add a route to serve the road when Nelson Nygaard’s final recommendations are made this spring in order to serve new developments such as Treesdale Park and Dunlora Forest.
“I’ve been wanting a bus to come up Rio Road [to serve] Treesdale and that area of the road,” said Supervisor Rodney Thomas at Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “That end of the road is building up like crazy.”
In July, Charlottesville paid San Francisco-based Nelson Nygaard $116,000 to review the Charlottesville Area Transit system.
“One of the parameters of the study is that the improvements be revenue neutral,” said David Benish, the county’s chief of planning. “That is guiding the types of decisions that they’re making for the changes in the routes.”
Benish said that meant the study assumes no additional funding from Albemarle and so no additional service was recommended for the county. The firm did recommend that a new Route 11 be created to connect Fashion Square mall with downtown via the city’s Greenbrier Drive rather than Rio Road or the John Warner Parkway.
Benish said both the city and Nelson Nygaard are willing to consider changing the route to provide for more service on Rio Road and will provide a cost estimate for that service for the county’s consideration.
“Then we can bring that information to you as the board to see if there’s any interest, or to make you aware of what the funding would be for more enhanced service to that portion of the county,” Benish said.
Lance Stewart, the interim director of CAT, confirmed that Route 11 could be modified.
“It is fair to say that Route 11 is in a greater state of flux than any other element of the proposed route structure,” Stewart said in an email to Charlottesville Tomorrow. “This new route has the potential to serve a number of community needs, some of which may be mutually exclusive if the route is to have a consistent and sensible headway.”
Stewart said cost information would be provided to Albemarle County next week. “It is our expectation that discussions on a staff level will continue over the coming weeks, and that elected officials for each agency may be asked to provide further input on both route structure and cost allocation as the deadline for the final proposal nears, and perhaps afterward,” Stewart said.
Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said she was especially interested in bringing transit to Treesdale, a 90-unit apartment complex for low-income residents constructed by the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program.
“To have successful affordable housing there, a lot of those folks may not have cars or shouldn’t have to be required to buy some nasty old beater to get to work,” Mallek said.
Mallek said Belvedere residents, as well as the new Senior Center, would benefit from a route that traveled on Rio.
However, Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd pointed out that Nelson Nygaard also recommended eliminating Route 10’s stop at Wilton Farms on Pantops because of low ridership.
“I think we would need to have some feel for what ridership would be in Treesdale before we start planning a route that goes by there,” Boyd said. “I’m not opposed to it if there’s a need.”
Benish said the area’s road system is not conducive to an easy solution.
“There’s not a real grid pattern that you can go in and get a little bit of Rio Road,” Benish said. “You have to pick one end or the other and then back-track.”
Nelson Nygaard is expected to return to the City Council with final recommendations later this spring.