The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will decide today whether to use nearly $900,000 in funds as a local match for a Virginia Department of Transportation program that seeks to move “shovel-ready” highway projects forward.
Staff had recommended the money be saved for next year, but supervisors said they wanted more options about how VDOT revenue-sharing funds could be used now.
“I think we should put ourselves in a position where we at least have the choice of taking the money,” said Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker at the board’s meeting last week.
Albemarle has previously used the program to supplement funding for its portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway.
The county also received $1.5 million in the current fiscal year to pay for the replacement of a damaged bridge that carries Broomley Road over railroad tracks.
The city of Charlottesville has recently used the program to help fund a $4.7 million improvement that would add an extra lane at the southbound interchange of U.S. 29 and Emmet Street.
VDOT has accelerated the application process this year; the deadline is usually in the spring but has been moved to the fall. VDOT will match up to $10 million.
Last week, staff suggested Albemarle not participate this year because no projects are considered to be far enough in the planning process for a match to be meaningful, and because it would deplete the county’s transportation capital fund.
“Obligating all or any portion of this amount toward the program significantly reduces the county’s capacity to address other higher priority projects as well as other routine requests for transportation upgrades throughout the county in the short-term,” said chief planner David Benish.
Benish suggested Albemarle save the money until more is known about the impacts the Western Bypass of U.S. 29 will have on the area’s transportation network.
“It may be prudent to hold on to that money for this year and use it more strategically next year,” Benish said. He added city and county staff are discussing the possibility of making a joint application next year, possibly for Hillsdale Drive.
Rooker suggested that funding could be used for sidewalk construction, but Benish said VDOT wants the money to go to new road projects or replacements.
Rooker said he felt the county should proceed with an application, and staff has developed a list of possibilities.
Today’s meeting was originally scheduled to be a work session to review the budget for the social services and information technology departments. However, the meeting was extended to include consideration of the revenue-sharing program as well as adoption of a resolution regarding design for the northern terminus of the Western Bypass.
In November, VDOT will issue an addendum to a request for proposals for design and construction of the bypass.
The Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation issued a press release this week requesting the resolution also ask for opportunities for increasing bike, pedestrian and transit service.
“Since it seems this [addendum] may be the last opportunity for the community to lay out its priorities before the project is put out to bid, we implore you to focus not only on the roadway design, but on design elements that impact the ability of this project to improve bicycle, pedestrian, and transit connectivity in our region, “ wrote Len Schoppa, president of ACCT.