COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
September 9, 1999
The Honorable Virginia Daugherty, Mayor
RE: Meadow Creek Parkway
At its meeting on September 1, 1999, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors reviewed the five issues submitted by City Council regarding the proposed Meadow Creek Parkway. We are in general support of those issues identified by Council and offer a more definitive response below:
1. First, the Council is interested in revisiting the previous CATS and the regional network of roads. There has been considerable discussion about a "eastern connector", a "near eastern connector", and other additional roads, both north and south of the City, that would complete the regional network. The Council is not committed to any particular road, but is very interested in discussing the regional network and particularly interested in facilitating better means for traffic to move from areas north of the City to Pantops and the eastern part of the County.
Response - The County shares the City's interest in developing a better regional network of roads. The MPO will be updating the Charlottesville Area Transportation Study (CATS) next year. The MPO has already started the process of gathering background data for this update. The MPO has also received Transportation Community and System Preservation Grant (TCSF) funding for the Eastern Planning Initiative. The grant included slightly over $500,000 to study issues related to growth and transportation in the eastern half of the Planning District, including roads north and east of the City. The Planning District will be working over the coming months to establish an advisory committee and hire a consultant for this project. The County believes these two initiatives provide the best opportunity to address the City's interest.
2. Second, we wish to explore a further acquiring of additional parkland over and above the acreage necessary to replace land taken for the road. This parkland could be acquired between the 250 By-Pass and Rio Road, and perhaps all the way to the Rivanna River. We think that considerable discussion should occur on this idea, and are willing to commit capital funds to the acquisition of land with the County to make this concept a reality. Perhaps the City and County should consider jointly applying for federal grants to supplement and enhance our local funding of any possible initiative. We are open to a wide variety of approaches, including the notion of a parkland commission and/or a model similar to the Towe Park City/County arrangement.
Response - As you know, the County has taken a strong position for the preservation of parkland with this project and has recently adopted a resolution that has been forwarded to the City and VDOT supporting the acquisition of additional parkland adjacent to Phase I. While the northern end of Phase I as it comes into existing Rio Road is developable urban infill land as identified in the County's Land Use Plan, the County is interested in working with the City to extend the greenway initiatives in both our jurisdictions where feasible. North of Rio Road, Phase II of the parkway runs through more urban development land as identified in the Land Use Plan. The County envisions the parkway having pedestrian and biking facilities along its entire length and, if feasible, connecting these facilities to the greenway proposed along the Rivanna River.
3. Third, in its letter to VDOT, the City states that it may hire a technical consultant to monitor design and construction of the City portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway. We think that it might be useful for the City and the County to cooperate in the hiring of a consultant and setting forth a charge that includes design consultation for the County portion of the road. In that way, we would get some consistency of design and be better able to integrate the County and the City portion of the road. We do not wish to slow construction of the road but instead improve its design.
Response - The MPO has a Design Committee that has been working with VDOT and their design consultant over the past three years to assure objectives for the project as established by the City and County through the MPO are met. We believe the MPO is the proper venue to determine if there is a benefit to the MPO Design Committee having a separate design consultant. We believe the MPO is the proper venue to determine if there is a benefit to the MPO Design Committee's having a separate design consultant and we encourage our MPO members to work toward whatever means will produce the best results. The hiring of a consultant at this time may extend the design process.
4. Fourth, the City has requested that VDOT give up any right that it may have to facilitate the construction of cellular towers in and along the right-of-way for the Parkway. Given Albemarle's previous position on these matters, we thought it might be appropriate for us to join together in setting forth our concern about cell towers in the right-of-way, and to jointly seek agreement with VDQT on this issue.
Response - The County is in full support of the City's proposal regarding cellular towers in the Meadow Creek Parkway right-of-way. As noted in the City's letter, the County has registered its general displeasure with VDOT's policy on cellular towers to State and Federal officials.
5. Fifth, we are concerned about how the County portion of the road integrates with the City portion, particularly at Melbourne Road. It is in the interest of both the City and the County to have safe pedestrian access across the road at that point. Consequently, we would ask that you join with us to approach VDOT about that critical intersection.
Response - The County is in full support of the City's position regarding the parkway's intersection with Melbourne Road. The Meadow Creek Parkway Design Committee has been working to provide pedestrian access at this intersection.
During open discussion, there was consensus that the County is supportive of a well-designed four-lane parkway, however, as you know, ultimate decision on whether a four-lane or a two-lane facility rests with the State's Commonwealth Transportation Board. Regardless of the number of lanes built, the Board of Supervisors endorsed the same design speed that is being proposed by the City on its portion of the parkway.
Again, we appreciate City Council's interest in these issues related to the Meadow Creek Parkway and we are confident that our respective governing bodies will provide a safe, convenient and well-designed arterial for our citizenry. Should you have any questions concerning any of our responses to your queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Charles S. Martin
pc: Albemarle County Board of Supervisors