Sunday, January 25, 2009

To spend or not to spend.

A fairly large bundle of capital improvement money - $10,353,701 to be exact - is the subject of a public hearing at the February 2, 2009 Charlottesville City Council Meeting. If you are concerned about spending millions of our transportation dollars in Charlottesville on the Hillsdale Drive Extended ($2,345,667) and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road ($8,008,034). The Charlottesville Planning Commission voted to drop the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road funding from this year's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and it will be interesting to see how (if) the Planning Commission's position is received by city council.

The $8 million for the interchange is but a small portion of the approximately $30 million project. And the interchange only a portion of the so-called Meadow Creek Parkway project that would connect Route 250 Bypass to Rio Road through McIntire Park and some magnificent natural property just north of Melbourne Road in Albemarle County. It appears that the majority of the Charlottesville Planning Commission believes that whatever the benefits of this proposed project are - they are not worth the many millions of scarce capital improvement dollars required. I have requested an accounting of anticipated benefits from this project to compare with the costs (including actual costs, impacts to parkland and historic properties, and increased congestion on nearby roadways). I believe that the anticipated benefits of this and the associated parkway projects don't provide sufficient benefits to justify these capital investments.

The decision appears to be more of a political decision than a transportation decision so it is not likely we will hear much discussion about the transportation benefits and the environmental and other costs of the project at the council meeting unless citizens bring these issues to council's attention during the public hearing. So, if you have an opinion about throwing another $8 million of public funds into this project as compared to reprogramming those funds for other transportation projects, February 2 is a great opportunity for you to share your opinion and present alternatives to council. The hearing announcement as it appeared in Sunday's Daily Progress is as follows:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Charlottesville City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, February 2, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 605 East Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia to consider an amendment to the City's FY 2009Budget. The proposed budget amendment will increase the Capital Improvements Program budget by $10,353,701 to support the following projects:

Hillsdale Drive Extended - $2,345,667
Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road - $8,008,034

State and Federal Grants totaling $10,353,701 are allocated to the City and funds will be received as they are expended (federal) or quarterly (state). The City's share of the costs of the projects are funded throught the Capital Improvements Program.

A copy of the full text of the proposed appropriation is on file with the Clerk of Council. This notice is advertised pursuant to Virginia Code Sec. 15.2-2507.


DaveNorris said...

Thanks Peter. Just to clarify, this is not the allocation of City capital fund dollars that the Planning Commission took a principled (and, in my opinion, correct) stand against back in December -- that vote will take place when we approve the FY10 City budget later this spring. This vote on Feb. 2 is essentially a drawdown of state and federal monies already allocated to these projects. That is not to diminish your basic point, however, for these are still public dollars going to transportation projects of questionable utility. Thanks, Dave

Peter Kleeman said...

Thanks Dave. Yes, it appears the city will be matching these funds at I believe approximately 5% of the total cost. Thus, the city will be spending about one-half million dollars from city funds to meet the city matching requirement. We are still talking real money here. And, as I see it this money is of much greater utility if put toward our future transit oriented transportation needs rather than toward outdated highway solutions to our transportation needs.