This photo (from the Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road Project website) might just give us a glimpse of what McIntire Road Extended through McIntire Park could look like if that road, the Meadow Creek Parkway, and the Interchange are constructed. This is quite a different view from the views presented in the preliminary design illustrations that show a few cars and a pedestrian or two on a path near the roadway through McIntire Park. Having 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles per day driving through the eastern portion of McIntire Park - just determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places is not a pretty picture. But, you have a chance to provide input to at least the interchange part of this three project scenario. The City of Charlottesville and VDOT are holding a pubic hearing on the Interchange project on Wednesday Nov. 1 at the Albemarle County Office Building from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. The hearing notice provides locations where you can view the material that is available in advance. It also states that some material will only be available at the public hearing.
I, and others, have requested that the hearing include an opportunity for a podium-style input opportunity so all stakeholders interested in the project can actually hear other stakeholder's comments as they are presented at a podium through a microphone. These requests, however, were denied. Perhaps complete disclosure of the relevant information and concerns of the public on this complex and controversial project is not desired by the project sponsors. As a believer in full public participation in projects that impact our community to the extent that this project will, I am very disappointed by this project staff and city decision.
The city's project manager, Angela Tucker, included this in her letter in response to my request for more inclusive public discussion.
"This public hearing has been organized and advertised as an open forum style hearing. In discussions with our Project Team, including VDOT, it has been determined that an open forum best meets the needs of relaying project information, answering questions, and receiving public input. While we respect your request to include an opportunity to hear public comments in a "traditional manner" (i.e. podium style), all public comments will be available for inspection soon after the 10 day comment period has expired. A transcript of the hearing, including written comments received during the comment period, will allow the entire community to share in the thoughts of the other members of the community."
Unfortunately, by the time community members get access to the information as outlined above, the comment period is closed and the opportunity to reflect on other commenter's thoughts and provide written comments after the hearing is lost.
I strongly encourage you to participate in this public hearing by stopping in at the county office building between 4:00 and 7:00 pm and provide your input on a comment form or verbally to a court reporter for inclusion in the hearing record. It is no secret that I am opposed to this project as it is currently proposed and I have posted several previous blogs about this very project you can find below. To find a variety of comments relevant to this topic, you can simply Google "kleeman route 250 bypass interchange" and find an postings you might find of interest on this blog as well as on other internet sites.
Other regional transportation alternatives can be developed that will not require sacrificing our premier parkland, further pollute our already threatened waterways, or bring thousands more vehicles into our currently congested downtown area resulting in significantly increased cut-through traffic in nearby neighborhoods. I hope you will join me in suggesting that this project is not in the best interest of our city or our region, and ask that other alternatives be pursued instead.
Your opportunity to provide input on the environmental impact assessment and the other material presented at this hearing is limited. If you cannot attend the hearing on Nov. 1, you have only until Nov. 13 to submit written comments that will be considered in evaluating the future of this project.