Check c-ville.com daily and pick up a copy of the paper Tuesday to for the latest Charlottesville and Albemarle news. Here’s a quick look at some of the stories we’ve had an eye on for the past week.
Dumler goes to jail
Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler spent last weekend in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, serving the first two days of his 30-day sentence for misdemeanor sexual battery after defying widespread calls for his resignation.
Dumler pleaded guilty to the charge in January after being arrested last October for forcible sodomy, and a county spokesperson says he’s the first to serve jail time while holding elected office. The Scottsville representative has said he won’t step down, despite the fact that his own local party leadership last week added their voices to the calls for him to do so.
While only a felony charge could force Dumler out of office, a petition to get a judge to remove him is still circulating. Meanwhile, his fellow Supervisors will meet in a closed session Wednesday to discuss removing him from the county boards and commissions on which he serves.
Bypass interchange scrutinized
The design for the southern terminus of the Western Bypass proposed by the project’s lowest bidder may run into problems when it’s reviewed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials, according to a Charlottesville Tomorrow report.
An “interchange justification report” filed by VDOT says based on the design put forward by winning contractor Skanska-Branch, getting onto the Bypass at its southern intersection with Leonard Sandridge Road would take a truck traveling 45 mph nearly three minutes—three times as long as if construction followed a 1997 design that proposed an elevated ramp called a flyover.
Two other alternative designs were estimated to deliver shorter travel times than the Skanska-Branch proposal, according to a consulting engineering firm.
Others noticed the comparatively inefficient design, too. According to Charlottesville Tomorrow, another low bidder on the Bypass project, Pennsylvania-based American Infrastructure, filed a protest with VDOT last year over its choice of Skanska-Branch, saying the winning bid didn’t meet the state’s requirements to address traffic backup at the planned interchange.
An opinion on the interchange from the FHWA might be a long way off. The agency must first weigh in on VDOT’s latest environmental assessment of the long-planned road, and it’s not yet clear when that will happen.
City budget to see slight increase
The city has released a proposed $148 million budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which would deliver the same tax rate, 95 cents per $100 of assessed value, as last year’s.
The relatively small increase in the budget—bigger than last year’s by less than 2 percent—will feed a 2 percent salary increase for city employees. While real estate values have remained stagnant, commercial development is expected to pump $226,000 in new business license revenues into the budget, and more is expected to flow into city coffers through increases in sales and other taxes. Bigger fines for parking violations are also on the way—$20 for staying over your alloted time instead of $15, and $180 instead of $100 for parking illegally in a handicapped space.
The budget will likely be on the City Council’s agenda for several weeks before a vote takes place.
Parkway interchange build begins
Construction of the Meadowcreek Parkway interchange at the Route 250 Bypass is in its first stages.
The long-awaited, much-litigated $20 million project, awarded to Earlysville-based General Excavation, Inc., will link McIntire Road and the Parkway, creating a new gateway into McIntire Park and a route under the 250 Bypass for cars, bikes, and pedestrians.
Construction likely won’t be completed until 2015, according to a city press release, and until then, there will be shifts in traffic patterns on both McIntire and the Bypass. The city is holding a community information session from 5-7pm Thursday, March 14 at Charlottesville High School to share information on the project.—C-VILLE writers