Infrastructure updates, Land Use - Albemarle, Land Use - Charlottesville

Two urban intersection projects to move forward 

(editor’s note:  Charlottesville opted to spend on a different project – this article is out of date and was not updated)
The Virginia Department of Transportation has found additional funding that could lead to the reconstruction of two major intersections in our area.
Deputy Secretary Nick Donohue announced Tuesday that $8.88 million will be spent at the intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 20 in Albemarle County and $5.9 million will go towards the intersection of Preston Avenue and Grady Avenue in Charlottesville.
Both projects had been submitted for funding through VDOT’s Smart Scale process, but had not originally qualified for funding. Under Smart Scale, all potential road projects are ranked according to how they address safety issues, relieve congestion, boost economic development and more. The new funding for these projects comes in part from cancellation of other projects across the state as well as better-than-expected revenue projections.
The Preston Avenue project is intended to create safer conditions at its intersection with Grady Avenue and 10th Street. One goal will be to reduce crossing widths, and another is to reduce the number of commercial driveways in the vicinity. Bike lanes will be constructed along Preston Avenue.
“The improvements will realign Preston Avenue and create a consolidated signalized intersection of Preston Avenue / 10th Street, and Grady Avenue,” reads the Smart Scale application.
The intersection of U.S. 250 and Route 20 will be rebuilt with additional turn lanes, medians in the right of way, and new traffic signals. A “keyhole” bike lane would be “added along the right turn lane from U.S. 250 to Route 20. The project would also construct 385 linear feet of new sidewalk on the west side of Route 20 from the U.S. 250 intersection, filling a gap.

The projects still need to be approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. A final vote is scheduled for the CTB’s meeting in June.


Infrastructure updates, Placemaking, Urban Design

Cost reductions suggested for Belmont Bridge replacement

A value engineering report has been released to help reduce the cost to replace the Belmont Bridge in downtown Charlottesville. Such a study is required for any project with a budget over $15 million, according to a status report released by the city this week.

“A thorough, independent analysis was conducted for the overall project to identify risks, improve constructability, and reduce costs,” reads the email from Jeanette Janiczek, urban construction manager for the city.

The bridge replacement has been in the planning stages for nearly ten years. Now the details of those plans are being worked out, such as coordination with the Buckingham Branch Railroad about the fence that will be constructed to stop pedestrians from dropping items onto the tracks. The firm Kimley-Horn was hired to create the design for a project with a $23 million budget.

An aerial rendering of the future Belmont Bridge, the design of which continues to be refined before

Changes will include changing construction methods for the median and adjusting the spacing of the bridge beams.

The Board of Architectural Review will take a look at two proposals that require approval at their February meeting. One would be to replace “scored concrete crosswalks” with “high visibility crosswalks” at the two signalized intersections.

“This would maintain consistency with other crosswalks within the City which aids in matching driver expectations, increases visibility of pedestrians in the crosswalk, improves constructability due to the multiple shifts in travel lanes during construction, simplifies maintenance in the future and reduces initial expenses by approximately $88,500,” Janiczek said.

The other will be to change the materials in the parking lot underneath the bridge from “scored concrete” to “asphalt” for an additional $290,000 in savings.

Below is a list of details about the project. This information is straight from the city. 

The bridge replacement project is striving to address four specific needs:

  1. to improve safety for the traveling public;
  2. to provide pedestrian and bicyclist accommodations;
  3. to maintain connectivity with the surrounding community, neighborhoods and business activity centers; and
  4. to accommodate vehicular traffic volumes

The preferred concept proposes to address these needs with the following approved major design features:

A replacement bridge that is shortened to approximately 236 LF in length and maintains the existing 62’ width Roadway Section on Avon/9th Street between Levy Avenue and East Market Street intersections will consist of one travel lane in each direction, a protected 7’ wide bike lane in each direction and a 10’ wide pedestrian sidewalk in each direction. Turning lanes will be added/lengthened at each intersection to maximize efficiency of each signal while maintaining traffic flow.

“Old” Avon Street will be closed to vehicular traffic between Levy Avenue and East South Street to improve the function and safety of the Levy Avenue/9th Street intersection for all modes of travel while creating a pedestrian plaza within the former roadway.
Enhanced pedestrian lighting and landscaping will be provided along 9th Street between Levy Avenue and East Market Street.

New sidewalk will be constructed along neighboring streets to the project corridor and landscaping will be installed – on East South Street, Avon Street, Graves Street and Water Street.

  • Additional new proposed pedestrian features include:
  • a pedestrian passageway under 9th Street south of the railroad,
  • a reconstructed staircase connecting “Old” Avon Street to 9th Street,
  • new staircases from 9th Street to Water Street on either side of the bridge north of the railroad and a mezzanine to cross 9th Street under the bridge