Mayor Norris wrote a clarification letter to VDOT dated January 4, 2010 stating clearly that an at-grade intersection at Route 250 Bypass is not approved. The letter states the following:
"To clarify, the official position of the City of Charlottesville, as stated in a letter of 1/18/06 to VDOT (attached) is to only build the McIntire Road Extended with a grade separated interchange."
That is very clear to me. But, VDOT is still asking the City of Charlottesville to state something totally different. They ask that the city agree that:
"In the event that a grade-separated interchange is not built, an appropriately designed at-grade intersection constitutes an acceptable and realistic alternative."
VDOT is not asking for a clarification of some confusion, but asking the city to change or to misrepresent its official position on the intersection so that VDOT can possibly get the US Army Corps of Engineers permit necessary before signing a construction contract for the McIntire Road Extended project. The proposed construction contract will build McIntire Road Extended from Melbourne Road to a southern terminus 775 feet north of Route 250 Bypass. The Corps of Engineers has already stated that such a facility could not get a Corps of Engineers permit as it is not a complete road. I find VDOT's request to be totally inappropriate. The letter that VDOT drafted for the Mayor's consideration is given below.
There is a possibility that city council will consider a resolution relating to this issue at the March 15, 2010 city council meeting. I look forward to attending that meeting to witness the discussion on this matter by council.
Mr. Robert J. Hume
Chief, Regulatory Office
Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
803 Front Street
Norfolk, VA 23510-1096
Dear Mr. Hume:
The purpose of this letter is to clarify the City's position on the McIntire Road Extended project presently under permit review by the Corps of Engineers and supplement our letter of January 4, 2010 to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). In doing so, the City wishes to provide you with a perspective on the desired transportation outcome that we wish to achieve.
The City of Charlottesville has worked with VDOT for nearly four decades to develop the McIntire Road Extended project. As early as 1975, City Council reserved right-of-way through McIntire Park for a road. From the late 1970s through the present, the City has continued to work with VDOT to develop and implement a project that provides a transportation connection through McIntire Park with a southern terminus at Route 250. While the design of the McIntire Road extended project has changed over time, especially with regard to reducing the number of lanes and including provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians, the concept of extending McIntire Road through McIntire Park, from Rt. 250 north to the Meadowcreek Parkway (now under construction) has been supported by every vote taken on the various portions of the project since the mid 1970s.
While the original plan for the road involved an at grade intersection, the City, in an effort to improve traffic flow sought, and in 2005 was able to obtain Federal funding specifically for the construction of a grade-separated interchange to connect the McIntire Road Extended project with Route 250. A grade-separated interchange at Route 250 is the City's preferred option and we are working closely with the Federal Highway Administration to complete preliminary engineering and an Environmental Assessment. This approach merely confirms the City's consistent position for almost 40 years that a complete transportation facility is constructed to connect the Meadowcreek Parkway to Route 250 through McIntire Park. In the event that a grade-separated interchange is not built, an appropriately designed at-grade intersection constitutes an acceptable and realistic alternative.