Saturday, August 15, 2009

VDOT resubmits request to US Army Corps of Engineers for McIntire Road Extended project permit

On August 7, VDOT sent the letter below to the US Army Corps of Engineers requesting a Corps permit to allow construction of McIntire Road Extended in Charlottesville VA. It appears to me that VDOT is trying yet another time to represent what is clearly one project - connecting Route 250 Bypass to Melbourne Road through McIntire Park - as two independent projects. Even a first time reader of this letter can see that these projects are not independent and that they are rather two alternative plans for connecting Route 250 Bypass to Melbourne Road - one with an at-grade intersection at Route 250 Bypass; one with an interchange at Route 250 Bypass. I hope that the US Army Corps of Engineers looks at this request carefully and again declines to issue a permit for the at-grade alternative as submitted by VDOT, but rather instructs VDOT to submit a final plan for a final design that connects Route 250 Bypass to Melbourne Road.

VDOT apparently continues to claim these projects as separate and independent projects to keep from having the entire single project from being a Federal-Aid Highway project and subject to all of the federal environmental protection, parkland protection, and historical property protection laws. It is my understanding that the public will have an opportunity to comment during a specific comment period on this permit application. I hope you will consider commenting not only on the project itself, but the process VDOT is following in attempting to move this project forward without adequately reviewing project alternatives and the related project impacts to the park, historic properties, and the environment in general.

Note: I reconstructed this letter in electronic form from the .pdf file distributed along with the VDOT press release. The original file including letter and attachments is available here.




August 7, 2009

J. Robert Hume
Chief, Regulatory Branch
Norfolk District Corps of Engineers
Fort Norfolk, 803 Frost Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1096

Re: Virginia Department of Transportation
Joint Permit Application
McIntire Road Extended Project
Charlottesville, Virginia (08-4060)

Dear Mr. Hume:

I am writing in response to your letter dated July 16, 2009, in which you requested the submittal of additional plans necessary to complete the above referenced project to a logical ending point. Plans demonstrating an at-grade terminus at Route 250 are being submitted to you with this letter today. For clarification purposes, let me briefly explain the background of the Terminus of this project.

Since the inception of the McIntire Road Extended project, VDOT has planned a connection with the Route 250 Bypass. In September 1994, the Commonwealth Transportation
Board (CTB) approved the location of the connection between McIntire Road Extended and the Route 250 Bypass. In September 1999, the CTB approved a design for the McIntire Road Extended project which included an at-grade connection with the Route 250 Bypass (See attachments 1 and 2.).

In 2005, the United States Congress passed the highway authorization bill known as SAFETEA-LU, which included a federal earmark for $28.9 million in demonstration funding for a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of the Route 250 Bypass project. FHWA determined it to be a project with logical termini and, with the City of Charlottesville, initiated the project development process (See attachments 3 and 4, FHWA correspondence.).

In response to these changes, VDOT appropriately revised the design for construction of the McIntire Road Extended project to tie into the access ramps of the federally funded Route 250 Interchange project. In the event that the decision to construct a grade-separated interchange at Route 250 is abandoned, VDOT will revert to the original plan for connection to Route 250 via an at-grade intersection.

Plans indicating a possible at-grade terminus at Route 250 were submitted to the Corps at the VDOT Interagency Coordination Meetings on August 8, 2006, and on June 10, 2008. The major difference now is we are able to build this at-grade intersection without impacting Waters of the United States (WOUS). Impacts have been avoided by shortening outfall pipes and eliminating sewer improvements crossing Schenks Branch (See attachment 5.).

VDOT water quality staff have reviewed the project with the revised at-grade intersection design and determined that there will be no additional impacts to WOUS). Additionally, construction of the at-grade intersection will not require borrow material to be removed from the temporary construction easement south of Station 17+ 02 to be used as fill within the limits of the permitted area associated with the stream crossing at Station 32+ 47.22.

With this information, VDOT is hopeful that together we can progress orward to conclusion of the permitting/Section 106 process for this project.


[Signature: Rick Crofford]

Rick Crofford
VDOT, Culpeper District
Environmental Manager

Attachments (5) [See WVIR TV-29 posting of original document with attachments]

Blind copies with attachments frunished:

James S. Utterback, Virginia Department of Transportation
Stephen J. Long, Virginia Department of Transportation

Below are the plan sheets included in Attachments 1 and 5 and links to the text of the letters in Attachments 2, 3, and 4.

Attachment 1: VDOT plan sheets 3, 4, 5 dated January 6, 2006 (click on image to enlarge to full size).

Attachment 2: September 16, 1999 Commonwealth Transportation Board Design Approval for McIntire Road Extension - Meadow Creek Parkway.

Attachment 3: August 31, 2006 Letter from FHWA Virginia Division to Mr. Peter T. Kleeman.

Attachment 4: March 16, 2009 Letter from FHWA Virginia Division to Ms. Andrea C. Ferster.

Attachment 5: Modified VDOT plan sheets 5 dated August 10, 2009 (click on image to enlarge to full size).

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