Tuesday, May 13, 2008

McIntire Road Extended plan no longer even connects at McIntire Road!

As part of the storm water plan, new VDOT plans for McIntire Road Extended were developed. Now, however, the starting point for this roadway through McIntire Park is about 775 feet north of the Route 250 Bypass. McIntire Road Extended is no longer an extension of McIntire Road but a bit of a road to nowhere.

VDOT, and City and County transportation planners consider McIntire Road Extended, the Meadow Creek Parkway and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road to be independent projects - each having independent utility (would make transportation sense if built independent of other transportation projects). This no longer appears to be true. Building the current McIntire Road Extended project without the southernmost 775 feet of road makes no sense.

The plan illustrated above shows Route 250 Bypass, the first section of McIntire Road Extended (it extends for about 2100 feet north to Melbourne Road), and the multi-use trail in blue. The pink areas are land that will be bulldozed to contour the land to accommodate the roadway and provide maintainable slopes (typically 2:1 slope). The storm water improvement is highlighted in yellow. Continuing to claim that this project is independent of the interchange project is ridiculous.

The removed 775 feet of roadway is roughly one-fourth of the length of McIntire Road Extended which from a funding point of view results in a substantial decrease in project cost for this project. I wonder if this is a way of allowing the McIntire Road Extended project to remain fully funded using only state and local funds while the cost of the missing piece is now paid through the interchange project that is a federally funded project. It appears that these two projects are now neither physically nor economically independent.

I and other interested stakeholders have long argued that the interchange and the road need to be studied as one integrated project. With the new plan shown above I can't see how VDOT or the Federal Highway Administration can continue claiming these to be independent. Now is the time to combine the projects and follow the complete Federal-aid Highway process for project development and environmental review. Only then can we in the greater Charlottesville area clearly determine if this project is a desired expenditure of our ever more scarce transportation dollars than investments in transit and other modes of travel.

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