Monday, May 12, 2008

I Recommend You Hike the Path of the Meadow Creek Parkway

Although I have been involved in issues surrounding the proposal to build a parkway through McIntire Park in Charlottesville and land in Albemarle County between Melbourne Road East of Charlottesville High School (CHS) athletic fields and Rio Road east of CATEC (Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center) I had never explored the wooded area in Albemarle that will be the path of the roadway. So, I went on a brief hike with a friend along the Rivanna Trail from Melbourne Road to the point where the parkway would cross Meadow Creek and marveled at the size of some of the trees and beauty of the area just a short walk from the City/County line on Melbourne Road.

Here is a view across the roadway alignment. This area will be totally bulldozed to cut material (and the trees) from just behind the CHS baseball field and fill as far as 115 feet or so distance from the field to create a 2:1 slope and accommodating the Meadow Creek Parkway 10 to 20 feet above the current land elevation. It appears that every living thing in this 115 foot wide zone will be replace by grasses suitable for growing on these relatively steep slopes.

Below is a photograph of a particularly nice spot where the current Rivanna Trail travels along Meadow Creek a bit further north from the photo above. I definitely plan to visit this spot again on one of the hot summer days ahead where I expect the temperature will be dramatically lower than most everywhere else in Charlottesville.

And here is the double culvert that passes under the Norfolk & Southern Rail Line that accommodates Meadow Creek. A bridge is proposed to cross Meadow Creek about one hundred feet from where this photo was taken.

It was not possible to continue further north along the proposed parkway alignment without going through a working cattle farm. But, I highly recommend you find an opportunity to do the short hike along this section of the Rivanna Trail and see what will be lost if the Meadow Creek Parkway is constructed. The loss in tree cover alone will be very hard to replace in our region. I am not sure how we will ever meet our regional goal of expanding tree cover and meeting the challenges of climate change. Removing tree cover (that will sequester greenhouse gases) and replacing it with a parkway (that will increase emission of greenhouse gases) is not at all consistent with being the sustainable community we have committed to as a region.

Our transportation planners and government officials need to hear from you about this project - for or against. We will clearly be giving up significant resources to build this parkway. I don't see that the benefits (if any) that are projected from the parkway justify use of these resources and many millions of dollars in construction expenditure. Exactly what is the benefit of adding an additional 20,000 vehicles each day traveling this route and adding to the congestion already occurring where the parkway projects will meet Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road. I am still looking for a simple cost-benefit justification of the parkway project. I do not know of one ever being provided for the public to review.

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