Over or under: A decision looms on the future of the Belmont Bridge project

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A rendering of the underpass some hope will  take the place of the Belmont Bridge. Image: Nicolaus Wehncke A rendering of the underpass some hope will take the place of the Belmont Bridge. Image: Nicolaus Wehncke

One thing seems sure. In the not too distant future, a years-long construction project will get underway to replace the 52-year-old, crumbling Belmont Bridge with a new structure for cars, bikes, and pedestrians to cross the 500-foot stretch that connects downtown to Belmont. After five years of planning and more than a million taxpayer dollars spent on consulting, engineering, and design fees, however, the future of the project is still unclear as two divergent visions have emerged.

The first, put forth by Norfolk-based engineering and architecture firm MMM Design Group and already approved for transportation funding, is a traditional bridge replacement that features wider sidewalks and bike lanes. The second, more recently created by three local design professionals, does away with the highway bridge model entirely and would send cars under Water Street, the CSX railroad tracks, and Avon Street Extended while placing a soaring pedestrian bridge above it all and creating parklike spaces alongside.

With a final public hearing on the future of the project looming on June 16, the backers of the underpass design have ramped up their criticisms of the current bridge plan, accusing the city of bias and lashing out at critics of the design who claim the concept is unvetted, too expensive, and would take too long to build.

“This is all about the economic well being of the city,” said architect Jim Rounsevell, a Belmont resident who partnered with husband/wife landscape architects and fellow Belmonters Peter O’Shea and Sara Wilson to create the underpass design two years ago after seeing the winning entry of a citizen-sponsored 2012 Belmont Bridge design competition, which envisioned an at-grade crossing surrounded by green space.  

The public response to the winning entry was enthusiastic, said Rounsevell, and while his own entry in that competition called for separate vehicle and pedestrian bridges and took second place, he was inspired by the design that trumped his own.

“People have asked for a gateway,” he said. “They want something cool.”

Asking the city to stop a process already years underway and consider a new, untested, and admittedly more expensive alternative, however, has proved daunting.

Different visions

For more than 100 years, a bridge has crossed the rail yard and tracks adjacent to Water Street carrying cars and pedestrians from Avon Street north into downtown and back. The original bridge—built in 1905—was about 15-feet lower in elevation than the current bridge, which was opened in 1962 and had an expected 50-year life span. Its decay became more evident in recent years, with concrete sidewalks cracking and crumbling to such a degree that pedestrians walking across could actually look through to the ground below.

In 2012, the city fenced off the eastern sidewalk to keep pedestrians off, and in an investigative article in the Hook newspaper, critics including now-City Councilor Bob Fenwick and developer Oliver Kuttner blamed the bridge’s poor condition on a lack of maintenance, including the fact that it hadn’t been painted in 26 years. Fenwick, a former member of the Army Corps of Engineers, believed even at that time that the bridge could still be repaired, citing the much-older ages of numerous bridges around the state, but the engineering firm the City hired to determine the future of the bridge had recommended replacement several years earlier.

That same firm, MMM Design Group, was also hired to oversee design of the bridge, an estimated $14.9 million project that received funding approval from the Commonwealth Transportation Board. But after MMM presented Council with an initial bridge design that was rejected by the Board Of Architectural Review in September 2011, a group of Belmont residents with creative streaks decided something bigger and better should happen at such a critical location in the city.

In early 2012, “Project Gait-Way,” a citizen-sponsored Belmont Bridge design competition, attracted entries from the UVA School of Architecture and from local design professionals including Rounsevell, all hoping to elevate a sense of community and pedestrianism above the automobile.

City Councilors had also been disappointed in the initial MMM design.

“It was essentially a replacement bridge with no character to it, much longer than it needed to be, completely unimaginative,” said former City Councilor Dave Norris, who was mayor at the time. Norris said he was inspired by the winners of the bridge design competition, but didn’t believe changing course at such a late date was realistic. “The only option I saw was to send the bridge back to the drawing board, to have them come back with something smaller, that would better fit into the context, and be more imaginative.”

As MMM worked on a new bridge design, the passion among some for the underpass design grew—and that’s been helped along recently by a 20-minute short film spread widely through social media. Rounsevell and proponents of his design have only grown more determined to pressure city council to change course. MMM recently unveiled two “enhanced” bridge designs, one an arch with wide sidewalks, bike lanes and plantings, which has only further convinced the underpassers that Charlottesville is going in the wrong direction at the Belmont Bridge.

MMM's arch bridge design. Image: MMM rendering
MMM’s arch bridge design. Image: MMM rendering

“It looks like it walked out of Pittsburgh from the 1930s,” blasted Rounsevell, who further criticized MMM’s plan for new buildings to be constructed up against the bridge, something he believes will create a canyon-like effect and further block views. Citing a Florida-based economist who is featured in the film about the underpass, Rounsevell claims his plan, which won support from the city’s Placemaking, Livability and Community Engagement (PLACE) Design Task Force and the Charlottesville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, would have a greater economic impact on surrounding properties by bringing them to street level and creating an inviting space that would encourage development and socializing.

Brian Wimer, the organizer of the Project Gait-Way competition and a Belmont resident, is even harsher in his criticism of the MMM bridge design and of the city’s approach to the underpass plan, accusing the city and MMM of conflicts of interest for allowing the same firm to assess and condemn the bridge and then receive the contract to design its replacement. 

“Until a day ago, [the city] didn’t even post the underpass as a design alternative online,” writes Wimer in an e-mail. “The city staff simply won’t support anything other than what MMM has proposed. Why? Especially when the public keeps rejecting MMM’s unprofessional, overpriced work.”

Fenwick also asked about a conflict of interest for MMM in 2012, as he suggested repairing the bridge, and while City Manager Maurice Jones has said the entire RFP process with MMM was conducted ethically and legally, Fenwick says his question has not been answered to his satisfaction.

“The inability to get a straight answer is troubling,” he said. MMM representative Joe Schinstock did not respond to C-VILLE’s request for comment.

City Councilor Kristin Szakos, chair of the local Metropolitican Planning Organization, said the accusation that the city hasn’t given the underpass design fair consideration is inaccurate, and she cites the upcoming public hearing as proof that councilors have been willing to be open minded. 

The underpass proponents haven’t provided enough information to allow a decision to be made in their favor, she said, noting a lack of an engineering study to determine whether it’s even feasible. Rounsevell said core samples taken in 2008 show construction is possible, but Szakos said those samples were taken as part of a bridge study and would need to be conducted differently for an underpass. 

The biggest issue, said Szakos, is the funding. Rounsevell claims the $27 million estimated price tag is inflated and is concerned that the figure was provided by estimating firm Barton Malow, which has worked with MMM and the city on numerous other projects including the rebricking of the Downtown Mall. But Szakos notes that while MMM’s enhanced bridge design may cost several million more than the original design, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will allow an already approved project to be amended. An underpass, she said, would require the entire funding request process to begin again, putting construction back by at least a year if the project was even approved. And in any case, she said, pedestrian overpasses don’t qualify for state transportation funding, which means even if the majority of the underpass project was approved and funded, the city would have to come up with the money for that component and cut costs elsewhere from the city budget to avoid losing its top credit rating.

“I think if the public only hears ‘We could have this thing that’s going to connect the city and solve all these problems and be beautiful…or we can have a bridge, most people are going to say, ‘I want the prettier one,’” said Szakos. “That’s not what the comparison is. Some of the assumptions that are being used to argue that the underpass is the more desirable option aren’t verified, like the fact that it would cost less to maintain, offer more connectivity, like the fact that we’d be able to afford to build it.”

Rounsevell and others, however, see the city as being shortsighted and missing an opportunity that could positively transform the downtown area for generations to come. Yes, the underpass requires an upfront investment, Rounsevell said, but he believes that money will be recouped over the years through reduced maintenance costs and the superior economic stimulation he believes it will bring. He points to other cities around the country investing in creative infrastructure including Greenville, South Carolina, where a pedestrian bridge has revitalized that city’s downtown.

“This is what cities are doing to remain competitive,” he said. “This isn’t about me; this is what the community has asked for.”

Over or Under by the numbers

MMM replacement bridge: $14.9 million, estimated 20 months construction with road open throughout

MMM enhanced bridge: $16.4 million, estimated 18 months with full road closure

MMM arch bridge: $18 million, estimated 16 months construction with full road closure. This is a fracture critical bridge, which means any failure is catastrophic.

Underpass: $27.3 million, estimated 28 month construction period with six month total road closure.

Source: MMM

Architect Jim Rounsevell sounds off on some of the criticisms he’s heard about his underpass design

The cost estimate for the underpass is $27 million, close to double the estimate of the replacement MMM bridge design.

That includes a 26 percent contingency because of possible undiscovered subsurface conditions, but the feedback that I’ve gotten from other people in the industry is that the numbers are generous and represent a worst-case scenario. The MMM arch bridge design is at $18 million. Also, the $27 million doesn’t take into account possible savings through use of design/build or the increased economic stimulation the underpass provides.

There’s no difference in potential economic impact between the bridge and the underpass.

Show me the data. You’re making a decision for the next 100 years, and to move forward with that
without the best information is dangerous. This is a focus on short-term cost while the benefit of long term economic growth is not being weighed. Right now, city council does not have the full economic picture. A full study needs to be done through Department of Economic Development and not Neighborhood Development Services.

We would have to start the funding process all over with the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

We have the time to figure this out, and if it takes longer to get it done for a better result, yeah, let’s start over. Now that the economy has improved, there’s a lot more money in the pipeline for projects exactly like this. Other cities have done this and they find a way to get the funding because it’s that important. You need sustainable infrastructure to attract and maintain the right kinds of businesses.

The railroad won’t allow an underpass.

The railroad has not said that. They have done underpasses. They just did this eight or 10 years ago on 10th Street/Roosevelt Brown Boulevard. That was CSX and Norfolk Southern. They do it all the time.

Lexis/Nexis will lose its tunnel to the Pavilion.

They explicitly stated in a letter to the city it was important that they maintain walkability for their employees, and by taking away a 30 foot high embankment and a dark tunnel and making it like any other street in the city, you improve access, you don’t make it worse. It’s actually better for them.

This is liberal big government, pie-in-the-sky spending.

It’s the opposite. It’s the responsible investment in our community that will cost less in the long term and have greater economic benefit to the entire community into the future. This is not a four or five year decision. This is a 60- to 100-year decision.

Architect Jim Rounsevell created the underpass design with landscape architects Peter O'Shea and Sara Wilson. All three are Belmont residents. Photo: Christian Hommel
Architect Jim Rounsevell created the underpass design with landscape architects Peter O’Shea and Sara Wilson. All three are Belmont residents. Photo: Christian Hommel

 

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the age of the Belmont Bridge. It is 52 years old.

  • Thomas Kelo

    “Councilor Bob Fenwick and developer Oliver Kuttner blamed the bridge’s poor condition on a lack of maintenance, including the fact that it hadn’t been painted in 26 years.”

    We should be more pissed about this — why haven’t they maintained our current infrastructure? Yes, building a big new fancy bridge is always a fun project for the bureaucrats while maintaining old infrastructure is so dull and tedious, but that’s what we pay you to do?

  • whoopsupsideyourhead

    Kristen Szakos was more than happy to greatly increase the cost of replacing the sewage pumping station near the river for her well connected friends in the Woolen Mills. That project is going to require boring through solid rock at a cost of many millions more than the original plan. Now she seems to want to protect MMM’s interests rather than those of the city at large. Doesn’t she as a councilor know about all of the problems with MMM’s redo of the Mall? The 4th street crossing is falling apart after only a few years of service.

    Crumbling infrastructure is a creeping problem which is getting virtually no notice locally, but we as a city have a real nightmare to deal with in the not to distant future.

    This article is a must read. It lists all of the other compromised bridges in the city and there are many. Not only is the repair budget practically non-existent, the admissions of ignorance of the situation and its potential impact by Kristen Szakos and Dede Smith are chilling.
    http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/beyond-the-belmont-bridge-a-dozen-area-spans-are-structurally/article_e67cddb6-b216-11e3-ad20-001a4bcf6878.html

    We only have one chance to get this project right in our lifetime. As reluctant as I am to admit it, I’ve finally been swayed to believe that the underpass is our best long term solution. The cost may hurt a bit at first, but once it’s in it’s a solution for the ages. I don’t see either of MMM’s designs being that.

    • lovinggunmaker

      who cares about those other bridges!? How many cool artist types and food truck aficionados live near those bridges? The cool people NEED to be able to walk on a solar paneled, virtual reality gateway to paradise as they stumble drunkenly from MAS to SkyBar!!! And the city SHOULD pay twice as much to make this happen!! All the boring people driving cars to their jobs should NOT be considered when making these decisions! How many avant-garde documentaries have they filmed??!!

      • whoopsupsideyourhead

        It’s OK dude, many of us consider fiction writers such as yourself to be “cool artist types” too.

  • NobodyImportant

    @whoopsupsideyourhead:disqus
    The underpass actually has 3 bridges. (4 if you count the ped bridge).
    How does that affect the long-term solution?

    • whoopsupsideyourhead

      Much shorter spans and an entirely different types of structures. Take a look at the train bridges crossing Moore’s Creek where it meets the Rivanna, Franklin Street, or 4th St. SE downtown. Each of those are more than twice the age of the Belmont Bridge and no one is talking about a need to replace any of them, meanwhile bridges for cars built in the mid-20th century are in need of repair all over the city with no budget to fix them.

  • lovinggunmaker

    Clearly the best course of action is to restart the process. Throw all the work and plans that have already been accomplished into the dustbin of history. Maybe an outside consulting firm could be hired to assess a management plan? After that assessment, we could all vote on whether we want to follow the plan or not. There’s no need to rush this, except for the fact that the bridge is falling apart. The people that want to delay this project as long as possible are right! We need to delay this project! I mean, what if, just what if, there is a better technology to come along in 5 years? In our rush to build a bridge, we would have missed out! What about solar panels? A desalination plant? Why can’t the bridge be a virtual reality gateway to paradise? The possibilities are endless but, as usual, the myopic bean-counting bureaucrats at city hall are stymieing our potential!! Re-elect Dave Norris!

  • stew

    Sadly, there is truth to the satirical assertion that the city may just build the underpass instead of a more practical bridge because of a loud minority. I went to the presentation on the underpass (among other ideas) and the cost they put forward did not include lost of the landscaping and other amenities that make it palatable. the underpass idea is forced, it wont create all the magic its proponents are trumpeting,(all competing unprovable assertions from both sides are just red herrings), it will require a pumping station to prevent flooding, and will likely create a public safety hazzard and eyesore in the actual tunnel under the tracks itself. Oh, and we have to pay for all of it instead of a big subsidy from the state and feds. This is the info I gathered at that presentation and I’ve seen nothing that counters it reported, if its incorrect then I’d welcome clarification. I agree that a) the existing bridge should have been maintained and heads should roll for that and b) the replacement bridge can be better than the options presented by MMM, but the underpass idea should be put away till this next bridge wears out. Use the savings to fix our water and sewer infrastructure or to repair other bridges around town. Putting forward our leaders’ lack of knowledge about the sad state of all our bridges a somehow being justification for spending an extra 18 million on this one just does not make sense either. How about a design competition that actually has a budget componet – say $16M max? That’s the sort of creative thinking we could use around here….

  • Jack Steinberg

    As important a question facing Charlottesville as it was choosing the pedestrian over the automobile in bricking over Main Street and planting trees in it 40+ years ago. Hard to find opponents to that historic opportunity now, isn’t it. This is another opportunity and every bit as historic. I hope this Council has the guts to make the right choice…again: Under.

    • Edward N Virginia

      How is a sunken passage – that requires THREE OR MORE NEW BRIDGES (for the railroad, for city streets, for the LEXIS/NEXIS employees) – pedestrian-friendly? MORE impediments for pedestrians. The notion of a high, soaring pedestrian arch is preposterous for many pedestrians with phobias, mobility impairments, and other conditions for whom a high, soaring arch would be yet another impediment.

      • whoopsupsideyourhead

        Those same mobility and phobia impaired people would have trouble crossing any bridge, even one of the hideous ones proposed by MMM design. The height is to get over the tops of trains. You know, just like the current bridge does.

        • Edward N Virginia

          HELLO?! … so is your premise that the special concerns and needs of special populations regarding public access to public facilities, and their needs and concerns to be included wholly in society, are not to be accommodated? Not even considered? And, please compare – in total feet – in elevation rise and fall – and in grade – the full span for pedestrians in the sunken passage design, and in other designs. Comparing these numerical values will VERY informative regarding needs and concerns of many special populations.

          • whoopsupsideyourhead

            Is your method always to create straw men when you enter into discussions with other people? The simple fact of the matter is that the current situation and all of the proposals offered for the future have pedestrians crossing a bridge.

            So your premise is that we must create a special path at track level for anyone in a wheel chair? See, anyone can ask stupid questions, but that doesn’t lead to informed decision making.

            As to your request for specific data about the dimensions of the various proposals, you are going to have to do your own research. You really look like a fool ranting about problems you imagine to exist and then saying that you don’t know even the most basic facts about the thing you claim is such a huge problem. Do compare those numerical values and get back to us when you have an argument to make.

          • Edward N Virginia

            WOW!? We merely asked questions, and your response is to belittle, demean, defame, marginalize and stigmatize.

          • whoopsupsideyourhead

            We? Could I speak to your supervisor please.

            If one of your headmates is an adult, how about letting that one at the keyboard for a while?

  • PG Tipps

    >>There’s no difference in potential economic impact between the bridge and the underpass.>> “Show me the data. You’re making a decision for the next 100 years, and to move forward with that”.

    Replacing the bridge in kind is return to status quo. We know the bridge isn’t a horrible thing or the whinging newbies wouldn’t be here trying to turn this place into Cvillandia.

    Someone who advocates a completely different strategy, and claims ancillary benefits for it, eg, “increased economic stimulation the underpass provides” is the one who needs to “show the data”. Doesn’t mean he’s wrong but there doesn’t appear to be anything close to a substantive case being made here.

    • Wanago Bob

      Show me the math!

  • Wanago Bob

    Charlottesville doesn’t repair bridges they just build new ones- that’s wasteful and not ecological. Building a new bridge before considering the cost of repair the current one is bad government plain and simple

  • Andrew

    Correction needed: “In the not too distant future, a years-long construction project will get underway to replace the 63-year-old, crumbling Belmont Bridge”…”the current bridge, which was opened in 1962 and had an expected 50-year life span.”

    If it was constructed in 1962, the bridge is only 52 years old, not 63.

  • Raman Pfaff

    Under is the only way to go. Think future, not today.

    • Edward N Virginia

      The future!? Climate change predictions are for more, more intense, and more impactful storms. So, have the sunken passage design taken this predicted future into account? if not, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t the costs of flooding, and flooding remediation, be included? YES, IT SHOULD, IF … indeed … you are considering the future!

  • Edward N Virginia

    SADLY, or SHOCKINGLY, Rounsevell and supporters of the sunken passage continue to ignore our questions asked numerous times in numerous ways:
    1. Supporters of the sunken passage say that their design is a better one ‘for the 100-year decision’. But, climate change caused major storms – which are predicted to increase in number, intensity, and severity of impact – may make the sunken passage a submerged passage. How does this design deal with climate change predictions?
    2. Supporters of the sunken (or submerged) passage say that their design has major affirmative economic impact. But for whom?! And, for whom to what degree? Will the many residents south of downtown who are poor, on fixed incomes or diminishing incomes realize affirmative economic impact because of their design? Will the economic impact on these be equivalent to the affirmative impact on land owners, absentee home owners/speculators, developers south of downtown? Isn’t it likely that BY FAR MOST of the affirmative economic impact will go to privileged land owning-elites, financial elites, residential and commercial development elites, and other other elites?

    3. Supporters of the sunken (or submerged) passage justify it as an aesthetic achievement? Are vast fortunes in public monies – TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND MILLIONS IN CONTINUING MAINTENANCE COSTS! – justly spent on aesthetic achievements? Oligarchs, emperors, and dictators throughout human history has spent vast sums on their aesthetic projects. Shouldn’t the public have the right to VOTE DIRECTLY on the spending of such vast sums? Shouldn’t the public have the right to vote directly on the bridge design that they prefer – with the costs in money, time, and disruption to city life during construction clearly displayed?

    • whoopsupsideyourhead

      If you were paying closer attention to what’s happening in the city you would know that soon there won’t be any poor people South of Downtown. The Strategic Investment Area that will displace them all is going to move forward no matter what happens with the bridge.

      As for your question, “Shouldn’t the public have the right to vote directly on the bridge design that they prefer – with the costs in money, time, and disruption to city life during construction clearly displayed?” Were you sick the day representative democracy was discussed in your high school government class? Google can probably help get you up to speed on the concept.

      • Edward N Virginia

        HELLO!? … your claims address not a jot or tittle the moral and ethical dialogue a civilized, democratic society must have about the claims you make: 1. that poor people don’t matter in the discussion; and 2. that the interests of voters and taxpayers don’t matter in the discussion. CONTRARY to your inferences, it is not ‘sick’ to consider the status and wellbeing of the poor, and the burden on taxpayers of public expenditures. AND, what about the need – in any long term public works project – to consider design in the context of predicted climate change effects? Climate change deniers will deny such importance. But many voters, and taxpayers, and residents in the area are not climate change deniers.

        • whoopsupsideyourhead

          It’s really hard to address such an incoherent rant, especially one that has nothing to do with anything I’ve written nor with any claims I’ve made anywhere. Could you try again please? You might start with reading what I did write and responding to that.

          • Edward N Virginia

            WOW?! we clearly defined a domain of moral and ethical concerns in public policy, and your response is to belittle, defame, demean, marginalize and stigmatize … while showing no willingness or interest at all in moral and ethical discourse in this important matter of public use of public resources.

          • whoopsupsideyourhead

            You clearly don’t understand how this sort of thing works. Citizens elect a City Council and Council decides how to run the city and what projects to approve. That is a fact and none of your blathering here is going to do anything to change that fact.

            You or anyone else are free to contact them, go to the website the city has set up to take comments on the various proposals, attend the public hearing, comment here, or engage in any sort of discourse you want on the subject.

            You keep referring to yourself as plural. Perhaps one of your other “headmates” should front for a while. One that can make some sense and respond to what has been written rather than knock down strawmen.

          • Edward N Virginia

            PARDON, but we are well aware of such processes. The point we make is: ON SUCH A CONSEQUENTIAL DECISION – as you say, ‘a decision for 100 years!’ – why not have a public vote among fully described designs? The vote need not be ‘the’ final decision but would serve to 1. increase diversity of public discourse (taking the discourse into many diverse venues and communities, as should any public vote), and 2. to record a formal, legally important measure of public opinion.

          • whoopsupsideyourhead

            There you go again with the “we.” Identify just who “we” are or cut the crap.

            I said nothing of “100 years,” that is just as much a figment of your imagination as is most of the other stuff you’ve written. There IS a place for you or anyone else to make your choice known. You really aren’t paying attention at all if you don’t know that.

          • Edward N Virginia

            WE APOLOGIZE for apparently mis-attributing belief quoted in the article to you. The quote is :

            “You’re making a decision for the next 100 years,…”

            In fact, we believe this quote to be nearly factual – i.e. it may well be that whatever work is done will impact along a trajectory of nearly a century.

            SUCH A CONSEQUENTIAL decision, it can be argued, should engage the public in the choice in particularly powerful ways: e.g. a vote on designs.

          • whoopsupsideyourhead

            How many times do you have to be told that the public has been engaged and asked to speak up before you get it? The city has a website set up specifically for that purpose.

            If you feel so strongly about some other sort of voting, say a referendum, then you are free to petition for that. The process is explained fully here. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+24.2-684.1 SInce you claim to represent a large number of people, you should have no trouble in getting enough signatures on your petition.

            The normal process is that CIty Council does the job they are elected to do and votes among themselves. That is what the law calls for, not whatever whim happens to be passing through your mind on any given day.

  • lovinggunmaker

    This project and this discussion is perfectly exemplary of Charlottesville’s dysfunction. Remember when that retirement magazine voted Charlottesville the best place to live in the USA? That was almost 10 years ago and seems like a joke now. Since that time, the city council has squandered the legacy they inherited.

    The largest landmark seen from the current Belmont Bridge is a hulking skeleton of a construction project. It’s also the largest building on the DTM. The same spirit that brought that hulking behemoth, as well as the delayed road just north of McIntire and 250, is bringing you this bridge project. These same people are also directly responsible for the massive increase in the homeless population in downtown Charlottesville.

    These people can’t shoot straight, have never completed a municipal project on time nor under budget, and should not be trusted with public money. The fact that they are seriously considering a plan that is almost %100 more expensive than what is budgeted and would delay the project for years shows the level of irresponsibility. I’m sure the intentions are great, but you know what they say about good intentions. The road (or bridge) to hell is paved with them.

    Just build the darn bridge or repair the existing one and be done with it. Let these pie in the sky types move on to their next cause celebre.

  • http://www.GilpinArchitect.com W. Douglas Gilpin, Jr. FAIA

    Of all of the designs submitted, the underpass has the best design aesthetic, but does have issues to overcome, such as ample drainage following a 4″ rain. I am also skeptical of the estimate; we have all seen the McIntire/250 Bypass interchange estimates and costs rise almost exponentially. My gut feeling when it is all said and done? $40M-$55M. But the design looks stunning…

  • Just Curious
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