Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lets Get City Council on the Right Path

I was surprised to find a Legal Notice in today's Daily Progress (July 7, 2007, page C2) that announces a July 16, 2007 public hearing "regarding the proposed conveyance of a temporary construction easement across City-owned property (McIntire Park) to the Virginia Department of Transportation, related to the Meadowcreek Parkway project."

I won't be able to find out what the full text of the proposed resolution is until Monday July 9, but I am assuming this resolution - if passed - will allow VDOT to do utility relocation work in McIntire Park as part of the McIntire Road Extended project. This is yet another step toward sacrificing a portion of our most significant parkland for a road that has been demonstrated to have unacceptable operating characteristics on opening day of the proposed roadway. The city's own consultants have developed a simulation model demonstrating that anticipated traffic on that project would result in what is called 'Level-of-Service F' performance in all directions of traffic flow at the intersection of Route 250 Bypass and McIntire Road.

Some say, "not to worry," the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road is going to save the day. But city council continues to insist that these projects be kept totally independent of each other. Councilor Lynch recently proposed to council a request to combine these projects to reflect that the road and the interchange are intimately connected and it is hard to defend that either one of these projects should be built without the other. But council continues to promote the projects as completely independent. Major assumptions are being made that these two projects - each with significant design challenges - will somehow turn into a successful transportation improvement. I have not yet seen any analysis that even suggests this to be true, and we have not yet seen the extent of the environmental impacts the combined projects will have.

It appears that council is on the verge of moving forward the McIntire Road project with an at-grade intersection while conditions previously set by council remain unsatisfied. I find it impossible to see how this step is at all consistent with the City Council's recently adopted Vision 2025 statement.

Clearly this is a time where we Charlottesville residents need to lead our current council. We need to demand that the McIntire Road Extended project and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange project be combined into one project, and that it be considered against other regional transportation alternatives that will meet the transportation needs of our community between now and 2025.

I hope you will read the Vision 2025 statement and determine for yourself if this project is at all consistent with our current community goals. I also hope you will attend the July 16 public hearing and express your considered opinion - whatever it may be.

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