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.

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