View looking west from the Belmont Bridge overseeing several properties that will be redeveloped in the future
Related Belmont Bridge stories:
Belmont Bridge’s future: Winning design faces obstacles, 3/5/2012 by Sean Tubbs
Council to take up Belmont-area redesign Monday, 3/5/2012 by Graham Moomaw
Council opposes grant application for new Belmont Bridge design, 2/22/2012 by Sean Tubbs
Winning design for Belmont: No bridge, more connectivity for Belmont and Downtown Mall, 2/21/2012 by Courtney Beale
UVa teams unveil Belmont Bridge concepts, 2/12/2012 by Sean Tubbs
UVa teams finalizing designs for new Belmont Bridge, 2/11/2012 by Courtney Beale & Sean Tubbs
UVa architecture school to spend next 10 days imagining a new Belmont Bridge, 2/1/2012 by Brian Wheeler
Belmont residents seek new design for city bridge, 1/30/2012 by Sean Tubbs
Belmont Bridge design coming into focus, 6/22/2011 by Sean Tubbs
City to pay $14K to fence off Belmont Bridge sidewalk, 4/13/2011 by Jason Ha & Sean Tubbs
JPA bridge replacement funded by money from Belmont Bridge project, 1/27/2011 by Sean Tubbs
Belmont Bridge replacement offers opportunities for cyclists, pedestrians, 12/1/2010 by Sean Tubbs
City adopts new strategy to accelerate Belmont Bridge project, 5/19/2010 by Sean Tubbs
MMM Design selected to oversee new Belmont Bridge design work, 4/8/2009 by Sean Tubbs
By Sean Tubbs
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Charlottesville’s City Council
voted Monday to allocate up to $150,000 to hire a consultant to study development opportunities and infrastructure requirements in the area around the Belmont Bridge
However, the study itself will not directly address new designs for the bridge’s replacement.
“I’ve not included the Belmont Bridge
in this because I think that’s a separate process moving forward that we need to continue with,” said Jim Tolbert
, the city’s director of neighborhood
The city has been planning for a replacement of the bridge since 2003, when engineers determined it was rapidly deteriorating. Plans for a replacement produced by the firm MMM Design did not meet with approval from the Board of Architectural Review in September. A grassroots design competition was held in February to solicit more design ideas.
“It is abundantly clear from the flurry of bridge activity that the public does not want and will not support moving forward with the current proposal that initially inspired the competition,” said Belmont
resident and architect Jim Rounsevel, whose entry placed second in the contest.
Rounsevel and several other speakers asked councilors to appoint a citizens’ committee to oversee the continuation of the design process.
However, Tolbert responded that his staff will meet next week with MMM Design
planners, Iñaki Alday of the University of Virginia School of Architecture and landscape architect Beth Meyer to sift through ideas that originated from the contest.
“I had not envisioned having a committee to work on [the bridge],” Tolbert said.
However, Councilor Dave Norris
asked for Belmont residents to be part of next week’s meeting with between staff and MMM Design
. Tolbert agreed but said that would not take place during the initial review. No timeline has been established for when their work will be completed.
The bridge project will be the first item reviewed later this year by a new task force also approved by the City Council
The Placemaking, Livability and Community Engagement design task force (PLACE) will have seven members representing the architecture, arts and development communities, as well as the public at large.
“[It is] tasked with several things, primarily looking at the development of public properties,” Tolbert said. “I think it would have been a very useful group to have had when we started the Belmont Bridge process.”
Rounsevel urged the council to make sure the review process is as transparent as possible.
“We got into this mess because … representatives of the Belmont neighborhood
continued to ask for a whole host of things that we felt like MMM summarily was not able to provide,” Rounsevel said. Specifically, Rounsevel wanted the company to build models depicting how the bridge would fit into the environment.
“We have learned from our experience and we will do better,” said Mayor Satyendra Huja
The review of the bridge design will be concurrent with the land-use study to be undertaken by a consultant.