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June 09, 2012

Soundboard 6-8-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120608-Soundboard

The June 8 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Wintergreen buyer Jim Justice
  • Thursday's state supreme court hearing on a proposed YMCA
  • updates on the Meadowcreek Parkway and the Western Bypass
  • Albemarle County's new leash laws
  • guest Zoe Ward to talk about teaching yoga after studying in India

Soundboard is produced by Robert Packard and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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June 05, 2012

City Council agrees to condemn land for Meadow Creek Parkway interchange

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Charlottesville City Council voted 3-2 Monday to begin condemnation proceedings for three slivers of land needed to build the grade-separated interchange between the Meadow Creek Parkway and the U.S. 250 Bypass.

However, the city does not expect to condemn land owned by the nearby Covenant School. Covenant’s Lower School occupies the old McIntire High School building on the U.S. 250 Bypass.

20120604-tucker
Angela Tucker briefs Council on the interchange

“We are pleased to report that we have reached a tentative agreement with the Covenant School,” said Angela Tucker, the city’s development services manager.

“I’m delighted that we seem to be reaching a good positive settlement in that,” said City Councilor Kristin Szakos.

Tucker said she did not believe a similar agreement could be reached with Middle Mountain LLC, a corporation that owns three lots in the southwest quadrant of the interchange’s footprint.

Continue reading "City Council agrees to condemn land for Meadow Creek Parkway interchange" »

June 01, 2012

City moving ahead on parkway interchange following lawsuit resolution

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, June 1, 2012

The City of Charlottesville is proceeding quickly with plans to construct the Meadow Creek Parkway interchange following the dismissal of a legal challenge in federal court.

“Construction should be visibly underway toward the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” said Owen Peery with RK&K, the firm hired to design the interchange.

On Tuesday, Judge Norman K. Moon dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park claiming the Federal Highway Administration had violated federal law when it authorized the $33.5 million project.

“I was not surprised by Judge Moon's ruling, the lawsuit was a long shot but one worth taking,” said City Councilor Dave Norris, an opponent of the parkway. 

Members of the Coalition are still deciding whether to appeal the case.

“We don’t have any decisions about what we’re going to do,” said Coalition member Peter Kleeman. “Some of us are leaning towards an appeal and some of us are not.”

Peery said the plan is to advertise the project for construction bids sometime this summer and to award a contract in October.

However, the city must first complete right of way acquisition and obtain formal authorization from the Federal Highway Administration.

“The design is nearing final completion and the necessary right of way acquisition is ongoing and has been ongoing over the last several months,” Peery said.

Continue reading "City moving ahead on parkway interchange following lawsuit resolution " »

May 29, 2012

Judge Moon rules against Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park; Parkway Interchange to proceed

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another legal hurdle blocking completion of the Meadow Creek Parkway appears to have been cleared.
 
Judge Norman K. Moon of the U.S. Western District Court has dismissed a lawsuit from the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park that claimed the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully split three components of the roadway in order to evade environmental scrutiny.
 
“The FHWA properly followed the required procedures,” Moon wrote in a 53-page ruling that was filed Tuesday. “I find that the requisite consideration of the Interchange Project’s cumulative impacts on the environment was adequately undertaken.” 
 

20091116-CC-interchange1

A rendering of a design shown to Council in late 2009 depicting  how the interchange would look heading south towards downtown Charlottesville.(Source: RK&K)

Under the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six-Year Improvement Program, the parkway is considered three projects with separate funding sources.
 
The grade-separated interchange with the U.S. 250 Bypass is the only one of the three projects scheduled to receive funding from the federal government.
 
The FHWA issued a “finding of no significant impact” allowing the interchange to proceed in September 2010.
 
The Coalition filed suit against the FHWA in February 2011. One of their claims was that the agency should have reviewed the entire parkway and not just its interchange. They also argued that an environmental impact statement was required and not a less rigorous environmental assessment.
 
During an April 25 hearing in the U.S. Western District Court, Coalition attorney James B. Dougherty argued that the FHWA should have not dismissed interchange options that would have entirely avoided McIntire Park.

Continue reading "Judge Moon rules against Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park; Parkway Interchange to proceed" »

April 28, 2012

Soundboard 4-27-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120427-Soundboard

The April 27 show features contributors Giles Morris, Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs   (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • guest Elizabeth “Bitsy” Waters for Arbor Day festivities
  • the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s new executive director
  • the debate over mining uranium in Virginia
  • guest Katherine Loflin on placemaking, the topic of Charlottesville Tomorrow's 2012 annaul event held April 26
  • Love lawsuit and George Huguely trial
  • lawsuit against the Meadow Creek Parkway interchange
  • and a recap of the Dining Out for Life event for the AIDS/HIV Service Group

Soundboard is produced by Susan Gravatt and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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April 25, 2012

Judge Moon hears testimony in Meadowcreek interchange case

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Opponents of the Meadow Creek Parkway had their day in federal court Wednesday to argue that the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully split the road into three segments in order to avoid full federal scrutiny of the project.

“What the FHWA has done here is exactly what they can’t do,” said James B. Dougherty, an attorney for the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park.

20091210interchange-view   An artist's rendering of  how the interchange would look facing south from above McIntire Park (Source: RK&K)

In October 2010, the FHWA issued a “finding of no significant impact,” allowing the Virginia Department of Transportation to build a grade-separated interchange to connect the U.S. 250 Bypass with the Meadow Creek Parkway, known in the city as McIntire Road Extended.

On Wednesday, Dougherty argued before Judge Norman K. Moon in U.S. Western District Court that the FHWA violated the National Environmental Protection Act by not conducting a full environmental impact statement that took into account all of McIntire Park.

Instead, the FHWA conducted a less-restrictive environmental assessment that only considered the section of the park affected by the interchange.

Sharon Vaughn-Fair, assistant chief counsel for the Federal Highway Administration, argued that the “FONSI” was issued because there was no other feasible alternative to the interchange. She said the structure was necessary to overcome operational deficiencies at the existing interchange in order to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Alternative G-1 is prudent and meets all the purposes and needs of the project,” Vaughn-Fair said. “We are not required to do an environmental impact statement.”

Continue reading "Judge Moon hears testimony in Meadowcreek interchange case" »

February 29, 2012

McIntire Park planning process continues

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department unveiled three conceptual drawings Tuesday depicting possible master plans for the eastern side of McIntire Park.
 
Supporters of the First Tee of Charlottesville golf program and advocates for a proposed botanical garden both made their case for space in the park, but city staff said the meeting was only held to get more information on the table. 
 
“We are not going to make a decision tonight,” said Chris Gensic, the city’s trails planner. 
 
The meeting was the fifth since the design process began last September. At another meeting in January, staff unveiled three concepts, each of which included both a botanical garden and some form of a golf course. 
 
Supporters of the nonprofit McIntire Botanical Garden introduced a concept that removed the golf course entirely. That option received the most votes in January. 
 
Participants at Tuesday’s event were shown three conceptual designs that had more distinct differences. 

Continue reading "McIntire Park planning process continues" »

February 26, 2012

Parkway interchange awaits result of federal lawsuit

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, February 26, 2012

A project to build a grade-separated interchange where the U.S 250 bypass will meet the Meadow Creek Parkway cannot be advertised for construction bids until a federal lawsuit to prevent it is resolved.

However, work has still continued on the design for the interchange, which has been under development for over six years.

“We are finalizing design as we work through the right of way phase,” said Angela Tucker, the city’s development services manager.

One year has passed since the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park filed a lawsuit alleging that the Federal Highway Administration broke the law when it approved the interchange, which is now estimated to cost $33.5 million.

The suit was filed in February 2011 in the United States District Court for Western Virginia. The case is on Judge Norman K. Moon’s docket and a hearing will be scheduled this spring, according to a court clerk.

The Coalition claims that the FHWA violated Section 4(f) of the 1966 Department of Transportation Act, which prohibits the agency from approving highway projects that affect parkland if a viable alternative can be found.

Continue reading "Parkway interchange awaits result of federal lawsuit " »

January 05, 2012

County renames Meadow Creek Parkway after John Warner


DailyProgress
By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, January 5, 2012

When Albemarle County’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway is permanently opened on Friday, motorists will travel on a road named after a former U.S. senator from Virginia. 

“The road name in Albemarle County will be the John W. Warner Parkway,” said County Attorney Larry Davis.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution Wednesday to name the parkway after Warner, who has ties to the Charlottesville region. 

“Warner was accepted at the law school of University of Virginia in the fall of 1949 and completed his first year and was commencing his second year when he like many other military reservists was called to active duty for the Korean War,” said Ann H. Mallek, chair of the Board of Supervisors. 

Continue reading "County renames Meadow Creek Parkway after John Warner" »

December 27, 2011

After banner year, county will see less road work

DailyProgressBy Kurt Walters
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After a huge year for secondary road construction and improvements in 2011, Albemarle County residents can expect to see many fewer road projects taken on by the county in coming years.

With sharp cuts in state money being sent to localities for secondary roads — Albemarle saw a more than 90 percent reduction from a $4 million-plus per year average in the early to mid-2000s to $346,000 this year — the county’s construction docket for 2012 only includes four rural road paving projects.

“Once these are done the question will be, do we continue [with] road paving projects or accrue money for higher-cost projects?” said David Benish, the county’s chief of planning.

Higher priorities that also carry higher price tags, such as the extensions to Hillsdale Drive and Berkmar Drive called for in the Places29 master plan and adding sidewalks and bike lanes to Proffit Road, are currently on hold for lack of funds. In July, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said he would recommend that additional resources be allocated for some of these projects now that Albemarle has cleared the way for construction of the U.S. 29 Western Bypass.

Benish said new funding for secondary roads is still up in the air.

Continue reading "After banner year, county will see less road work" »