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April 28, 2008

VDOT moves ahead with utility relocation for Meadowcreek Parkway

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County-mcp2
The alignment for Albemarle County's portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway is marked in blue
While the Charlottesville City Council continues to debate the design of the interchange for the southern terminus of the Meadowcreek Parkway, preparation work continues this week at the northern end. The eastbound lane of East Rio Road will be closed on Tuesday morning to allow crews to relocate utilities. VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter told Charlottesville Tomorrow that means the project is still moving forward.

“We’re looking to get it advertised in the late summer,” Hatter said. Work in the County has begun now because the County’s portion of the road will take longer to complete, and because of the time involved in coordinating between VDOT and the various utility companies. That goal is for the utilities to be taken care so the eventual contractor hired to build the road will be able to focus on road construction.

VDOT also has to continue negotiating settlements for property along the Parkway’s right-of-way. One of the last remaining owners is the City of Charlottesville, which owns about nine critical acres of land in the County. The Charlottesville City School Board is expected to vote Thursday night on a resolution to donate the land to the project. Some Board members have expressed concern about the safety of the road, which will intersect with Melbourne Road near Charlottesville High School.

One member of the School Board, Colette Blount, spoke out against the Meadowcreek Parkway in general, during a City Council public hearing on the Meadowcreek Parkway Interchange.  Council declined to endorse the alternative selected by the Steering Committee overseeing its design, and will instead hold a work session on the matter in late May or early June.

Hatter said another remaining property still under negotiation is an easement through the Wetzel property, a 33 acre parcel just to the south of CATEC.

Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) told Charlottesville Tomorrow he’s hopeful the project will soon get underway.

“The project has consistently been supported by the Board of Supervisors and by City Council, and I think that the City, probably within the next month, will come to a decision on the interchange design,” Rooker said. “My expectation is the School Board will approve the transfer of the property, even though I’m not certain that’s legally required.”

Rooker acknowledged that the right of way acquisition process has taken longer than expected, resulting in a slight delay. He said the City should make its decisions quickly so utility relocation can occur on their side of the project. VDOT’s Lou Hatter says further delays will only increase the cost of the road. In the meantime, utility relocation for the County’s portion will continue throughout the spring and summer.

Sean Tubbs

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