Friday, October 17, 2008

VDOT is Pushing the Parkway Agenda

I was surprised to read the headline in Rachana Dixit's Oct. 16, 2008 Daily Progress entitled: Parkway plans pass another milestone. Apparently VDOT is eager to get this project moving in spite of the fact that the McIntire Road Extended and Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road project are still in preliminary engineering and as I see it still wrought with potential project design problems, environmental compliance problems, funding considerations, and other potentially project delaying (or termination) requirements.

This action reminds me of the strategy National Football League teams use to avoid reconsideration of a controversial football play call. Teams will hurry to the line of scrimmage and try to get the next play in motion before the play is challenged by the opposing team. Sometimes it works - sometimes not. Unfortunately, we proponents of using our funds for better transportation alternatives can't simply throw a red flag onto the playing field to request a review.

In VDOT's action, they are hoping to maintain that the county project - Meadow Creek Parkway - is totally independent of the city project - McIntire Road Extended. I and others contend that it is essential to consider all three related projects (Meadow Creek Parkway, McIntire Road Extended, and the Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road) together for environmental review purposes. It appears that even the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) considers Meadow Creek Parkway and McIntire Road Extended to be one combined project for purposes of determining appropriateness of water quality permit applications for storm water discharge and stream impacting activities of those projects. In fact the USACE is just beginning the process of reviewing impacts of these projects on Nationally Register of Historic Places eligible properties prior to considering signing any required permits. Given that this Historic Property process (known as the Section 106 process) is supposed to be completed prior to selecting a final project design it appears that VDOT's advertisement for bids on a final project is a bit premature.

I do not know what VDOT's rationale for their most recent action is, but perhaps this is going to turn out to be our own local "October Surprise." I am ever optimistic our elected officials will realize that the financial and resource costs to construct this set of road projects is not consistent with our future needs and both Charlottesville and Albemarle will look to fund and construct better public transit solutions to meet our needs of the future - and not build these road projects that may not even have been good solutions to our problems of the past.

Note: Photo from Charlottesville Tomorrow.

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