The agenda for the February 5, 2007 Charlottesville City Council meeting has been released and staff are recommending against the closure of Old Lynchburg Road at the City/County border. City Council is having a public hearing on the issue Monday night.
Many residents from the Fry's Spring neighborhood came before the City Council earlier this month asking that the road be closed. The County's review of the Biscuit Run project South of Charlottesville (along with the Granger, Woodlands, and UVA-Fontaine projects) has also turned up the heat on City residents' concerns. Biscuit Run is projected to add over 30,000 vehicle trips a day onto the area road network.
The staff report also indicates that the City does not think it would be appropriate to ask Biscuit Run's developers to contribute cash proffers to the construction of the Fontaine/Sunset Avenue Connector. This road is, according to the report, viewed as important because:
"it is projected to remove a great deal of the projected traffic growth on Old Lynchburg Road by providing a direct access to the University of Virginia from properties developed south of I-64. This road improvement has been suggested by some as a subject of proffers for the Biscuit Run Development. We do not believe that it is practical to link this project with the Biscuit Run development for a number of reasons....In this case, the developer has not expressed an interest in proffering this substantial road improvement which is estimated between $12 and $15 million and their traffic study shows no direct link to the Sunset Connector." [emphasis mine]
The reason the traffic impact analysis for Biscuit Run shows no direct link to the Fontaine/Sunset Avenue Connector is because that proposed road was excluded by the developer from the study against the recommendation of County staff. At last night's Biscuit Run work session, County staff reported that the line had to be drawn somewhere on the scope of the transportation study, and that while they wanted this area included, it was not. Everyone seems to agree that the connector road will help alleviate traffic on Old Lynchburg Road.
But who should pay for it? The County of Albemarle is banking on future proffers from the University of Virginia and Coran Capshaw (Granger property). A key financial challenge is building an expensive bridge over the railroad tracks that divide the Fontaine Research Park from the Granger property.
One of those people suggesting Biscuit Run proffers should be applied directly to the Fontaine/Sunset Avenue Connector is City Councilor Kevin Lynch. In a recent City Transportation work session, Mr. Lynch stated:
"In the case of proffers for Biscuit Run. They've talked about $3 million in proffers the City could get. My take on it is I'd rather not have your proffers. I'd rather you build a road, take that $3 million and build a bridge over Moore's Creek so you can build the [Fontaine Ave/Sunset Connector]. Those are the kind of decisions I think we need to have."
In their agenda for City Council, staff conclude:
"Staff recommends that Old Lynchburg Road remain open to traffic, but that we proceed immediately with the road improvement design project and that we continue to push the County to move the Sunset/Fontaine connector forward. We also recommend that we continue to ask the County to condition Biscuit Run approval on the receipt of proffers for the road improvements on Old Lynchburg Road as previously submitted to them and to require phasing of Biscuit Run so that development occurs on the eastern half of the property first. While we recognize the issues associated with traffic on Old Lynchburg Road, we do not believe that it is appropriate to shift that traffic to other neighborhood streets and degrade that quality of life of other City residents in order to improve the quality of one neighborhood street."