Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shepard Fairey show at Boston Contemporary Art Center worth seeing.

If you are heading to Boston MA anytime before August 18, 2009, be sure to take in the Shepard Fairey show at the Boston Contemporary Art Center on the Boston waterfront. This is the best art show I have visited in a long time. Fairey is the creator of the iconic Obama posters that was ubiquitous in the Obama campaign. But, this show is loaded with works over the past several years that are socially and politically provocative as well as great art and technical achievements. Many of the pieces in the show were produced as multiples - some of which are posted on walls and other locations around Boston and Cambridge.

If Iget back to Boston in the next few weeks I will visit the show again.

Check out the announcement here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

US Army Corps of Engineers agrees with Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park

The US Army Corps of Engineers notified the Virginia Department of Transportation that the Corps will not issue a permit allowing construction of McIntire Road Extended - one of the elements of the Meadowcreek Parkway project - because it lacks a logical southern terminus. [text of the letter is provided below] The Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park (CPMP) has been claiming that this lack of a logical terminus for McIntire Road Extended is inconsistent with federal highway regulations. CPMP and others have presented arguments to both Federal Highway Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers that the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road and McIntire Road Extended are in fact one project, not two independent projects, connecting Route 250 Bypass to Melbourne Road. The letter below indicates that the Corps of Engineers appears to agree with this claim.

It is not clear how this matter will be addressed by VDOT. If VDOT processes the roadway and interchange as one project, than the entire project connecting Route 250 Bypass and Melbourne Road will become a Federal-Aid Highway project and
will be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. These federal laws require a higher level of environmental analysis than has currently been done for McIntire Road Extended. We will all have to wait to see how VDOT responds to this letter, however. There have been many twists and turns in development of the Meadowcreek Parkway and there may be more surprises ahead.

As a member of CPMP, I am pleased that the Corps of Engineers has heard our claim and apparently agreed that McIntire Road Extended is not an independent project. Stay tuned for the next chapter in the Meadowcreek Parkway story.

Image source:


July 16, 2009

Eastern Virginia Regulatory Section
(08-4060-09) (Schenks Branch)
McIntire Road Extended U000-104-102, C501

Mr. Rick Crofford
District Environmental Manager
Virginia Department of Transportation, Culpeper District
1601 Orange Road
Culpeper, Virginia 22701-3819

Dear Mr Crofford:

This letter is in further reference to your joint permit application for McIntire Road Extended, in Charlottesville, Virginia (08-4060).

Based on all information we have received to-date, we have concluded that the project plans we are currently reviewing do not show a terminus at the southern end of McIntire Road. In order for us to continue our evaluation of the proposed McIntire Road Extension, the work must be a single and complete project with logical termini.

Please submit additional plans, including quantifications of any additional impacts to waters of the U.S., necessary to complete the project to a logical ending point. Once we receive this information, we will continue processing your application.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have questions, please call Ms. Kathy Perdue at (757) 201-7218.



J. Robert Hume, III
Chief, Regulatory Branch

Copies furnished:

Ms. Kathleen Kilpatrick, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Dr. Ethel Eaton, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Mr. Marc Holma, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Ms. Angela Tucker, Development Services Department, City of Charlottesville
Mr. Michael Farrugio, Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
Mr. David Benish, Albemarle County
Mr. John A. Cruickshank, Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club
Dr. Daniel Bluestone, Preservation Piedmont
Mr. Peter Kleeman, STAMP
Ms. Colette Hall, North Downtown Residential Association
Dr. Richard Collins
Ms. Mary A. R. Howard, Thomas Jefferson Branch, APVA/Preservation Virginia
Mr. James Shisler, Dogwood Vietnam Memorial Committee ...
Mr. Bob Hodous, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Randy Lichtenberger, VDOT Lynchburg District
Ms. Mary Ellen N. Hodges, VDOT Central Office
Mr. John Chiles, VDOT Culpeper District
Mr. Gregory E. Krystyniak, VDOT
Mr. D. Brent Sprinkel, VDOT Culpeper District
Mr. Chris Egghart, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pedestrian Safety Press Event

While vacationing near Chesapeake Bay earlier this year, I came across this "walk at your own risk" sign posted at a local business with some badly cracked walkways. I don't know if posting a sign like this limits ones liability, but it is always a good idea to be safe when walking. In an effort to reduce the risk of being a pedestrian, Charlottesville is working with local citizens to improve the pedestrian environment and deliver safety information to the public.

Today, City Councilor Julian Taliaferro hosted a press event to announce progress in promoting pedestrian safety in Charlottesville. The event was scheduled at 11:00 am in the Omni Hotel parking lot near the location of a recently installed lighted crosswalk across Ridge-McIntire Road. The audience was made up of local press, several city staff, some members of the city council appointed pedestrian safety committee. Being a member of the committee, a frequent pedestrian in downtown Charlottesville, and an active supporter of improved pedestrian safety I walked over to hear the presentation. Ric Barrick, Director of Communications for the City of Charlottesville said coverage of this event will be shown on TV-10 in the near future. This is all part of Charlottesville's effort to educate the public - and motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in particular - in being safe on Charlottesville's streets.

Jeanie Alexander, City Traffic Engineer said some funding may still be available to improve pedestrian safety. So, don't be shy - if you know of some unsafe pedestrian situation, contact Jeanie Alexander at 970-3182 and let her know about it.

People in fives - fountains in fours

I often hear folks talk about things happening in twos or threes, but fives? I had my camera with me on two recent occasions on the Charlottesville Downtown mall and first encountered five 'moms' with their five one-week old babies (all delivered by the same midwife) at Cafe Cubano. Then, I encountered a group of five servers awaiting the start of their dinner shift at Sal's on the mall.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but I will be looking to see if I keep encountering things in fives.

It is good to see that the five new babies are already users of the downtown mall, although they were not eating off the menu.

I noticed some work going on at the mall fountains. I am looking to the four fountains to be operating soon. One of the workers said that all four fountains should be repaired and refurbished within four weeks. I hope it is sooner than that, but I am ready to enjoy the fountains soon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is Meadowcreek Parkway one road?

The map (source: Daily Progress, May 20,2009) shows the Meadowcreek Parkway as a single facility connecting Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road and Rio Road. The Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park (of which I am a member) has long contended that the parkway is one facility and should be planned, analysed and constructed as one facility. In the court opinion described in the previous blog posting, Carlottesville Circuit Court Judge Jay Swett also considers this to be the case. Judge Swett wrote in the opening line of his June 26, 2009 opinion: "This case arises out of the conveyance of an easement by the City of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville School Board to the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Transportation related to the construction of a portion of what is known as the Meadow Creek Parkway." Many argue that because of differences in funding source for the three segments of this facility, that each is a separate project. This separation (or what in federal law would be called segmentation) is the heart of the case about building a portion of a project (the roadway and bridge north of Melbourne Road) before the other portions of the project have finished preliminary engineering. The Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park would prefer to address what they consider illegal segmentation of the parkway project to avoid complying with federal environmental regulations. But, until the preliminary engineering for the federally funded portion of the project is completed no action is possible. The timing of construction is being carried out by VDOT so that the non-federal portions of the project will be constructed prior to the federal portion. Whether by design or not, this sequencing keeps the issue of segmentation from being brought before a federal court. It appears that a timely hearing on the illegal segmentation issue may not occur and an environmentally damaging project gets built.

The Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park is pursuing this matter to the extent possible under the prevailing conditions. Do consider asking Charlottesville City Council to consider the legality of this project as well as its consistency with Charlottesville becoming a sustainable city. Your letters or comments to council can make a difference.