As growth extends throughout the city and county, the roads around and through Charlottesville have become ever more crowded. To alleviate some of the congestion, area officials have moved forward with two controversial projects, the Meadowcreek Parkway (MCP) and Eastern Connector. Both would pass through a city park—McIntire and Pen parks, respectively.
City Council held a June 4 work session on the intersection for the Meadowcreek Parkway (MCP). After failing to approve the roundabout design ratified by the Interchange steering committee, Council chose a smaller diamond intersection and directed the engineering team to refine that option. The work session came two days after a 3-2 Council vote to grant an easement for city-owned land in the county for parkway construction. Almost five acres will be permanently used for the road, while another 3.7 acres will be temporarily held during the project’s construction.
A steering committee has picked an alignment through Pen Park for the proposed four-lane Eastern Connector.
|Previous C-VILLE coverage:
Council stops interchange dead in its tracks
School Board likely to give away fields for parkway
Eastern connector limps along
Agency says MCP needs another look
Pick one: public gets a look at last two interchange designs
Council makes final step towards MCP
Meadowcreek Parkway to-do list in city
MCP may have future legal problems
Commission approves MCP interchange
Parkway interchange design gets support
State funding problems affect local roads
County approves road priorities
The narrow vote has led Stratton Salidis, longstanding opponent of the Parkway, to question its validity under the state constitution. He believes that the vote required a “supermajority,” three-fourths of Council, for approval.
In 2004, the state attorney general ruled that a “supermajority” was not necessary to put a nine-acre stretch of McIntire Park in temporary easement. The most recent vote, however, concerned a permanent easement and involves a different parcel, so the requirement of a higher consensus could apply.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Connector Steering Committee recently decided to move forward with a plan for a four-lane connection between Rio Road and Route 20, but over the objections of Committee member and former city councilor Kevin Lynch.
“I don’t want to see four lanes used as a reason to not build the Eastern Connector,” he says. From his vantage, the decision ignores a political reality that will mean the road’s defeat. Instead, Lynch has proposed a two-lane alternative that would still cut through Pen Park but along an access road that already exists.
Various residents of the area, most notably Sarah Hendley, have already mounted opposition to the connector because it goes through Pen Park. Lynch believes that the access road route would minimize the impact.
“It’s the least bad alternative,” he says. “That’s what we’re down to.” The city and county will not be presented with the steering committee’s recommendations until this fall at the earliest.
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