Monday, January 14, 2008

Protecting our Historic Resources

I have been involved with the controversial roadway project known as the Meadow Creek Parkway since about 1997 and have been a frequent contributor to discussing if building a road through McIntire Park - Charlottesville's largest park - is a reasonable investment. It is a project that has been discussed since the 1960s. It was abandoned in the 1980's, and was reopened for consideration a few years after abandonment. Discussion of this project now is very confused in that what is often referred to as the Meadow Creek Parkway (also referred to as Meadowcreek Parkway by some) actually consists of three projects:

1. The Meadow Creek Parkway - a two-lane road project proposed between Melbourne Road and Rio Road managed by Albemarle County,

2. McIntire Road Extended - a two-lane road project proposed to extend McIntire Road from Route 250 Bypass through McIntire Park to Melbourne Road managed by the City of Charlottesville, and

3. The Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road - a grade-separated interchange proposed to be constructed where McIntire Road and Route 250 Bypass currently meet managed by the City of Charlottesville using federal funding.

Several questions are yet to be answered as I see it.

1. Are these three projects truly independent of each other or are two or three of these projects actually components of one project?

2. Are any or all of these independent or collective projects desirable investments to meet our future transportation demands or should other alternative transportation investments be considered?

3. Is putting an interchange in or a road through McIntire Park a reasonable course of action given our community's need for open space, tree cover, and parkland particularly when federal funding triggers parkland protection consideration under Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966?

4. Is adequate consideration of preservation for the several properties eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places included in determining designs for the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road and McIntire Road Extended projects as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966?

All of these questions are part of the current conversation about these projects. I will provide some background material and thoughts on these and related issues in future blog postings. But, for now, I would like to share (and encourage you to read) Executive Order 11593 executed in 1971 by Richard Nixon that addresses the issue of historic preservation.

Reading these documents may seem like a bit of a chore, but I assure you that our natural resources, cultural resources and historical resources are at risk and these laws, their implementing regulations, and related executive orders are one of the few protections we have in preserving them for future generations.

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