Red light camera safety called into question
As Albemarle weighs adding red light cameras to another busy county intersection, the effects of the cameras on traffic collisions at the intersection of Rio Road and Route 29 is coming under scrutiny.
According to data reported by The Daily Progress, the county has collected almost a quarter of a million dollars in revenue from tickets since the cameras at Rio were installed in 2011, and the number of red-light violations has declined significantly. But law enforcement officials’ main argument in favor of the cameras—that they contribute to public safety by reducing collisions—may not be so clear-cut.
Red light cameras may indeed reduce the number of right-angle, or T-bone collisions at intersections, but according to the Progress, the cameras have had no effect on the number of total crashes at the Rio crossroads. There were 38 the year before the cameras were installed, 49 in 2011, 31 in 2012, and 33 by July of 2013. Data from 2011 shows the majority of those accidents—67 percent—were rear-end collisions. That could suggest the cameras have led to one type of crash being swapped for another.
A 2007 study by the Virginia Department of Transportation supports that claim. It found that crashes attributed to red-light running went down at intersections where the cameras were installed, but rear-end crashes increased.
A police spokesperson told the Progress that the department is undertaking a long-term study to examine the impacts of the red-light cameras. Meanwhile, an engineering study of a possible Pantops camera location has already begun, and the Board of Supervisors is preparing to take up an ordinance allowing schools to install cameras on the stop-arms of its buses.
CFA Institute moves in
The lights are on and CFA employees are happily at work in their new digs in the former Martha Jefferson Hospital at the corner of Locust Avenue and High Street, according to the project manager, Guy Williams, CFA’s head of finance and risk management. Employees moved in over the past two weeks, said Williams, and are enjoying the nearly $25 million renovation that converted the old hospital into 136,000 square feet of Class A office space that Williams said will qualify for LEED Gold certification.
Previously headquartered in the Fontaine Research Park in Albemarle County, the Institute is the global nonprofit that offers the top certification for investment analysts. Each year, hundreds of investment professionals from around the world come to Charlottesville to take the exam.
The move brings nearly 400 jobs into the city—45 of them new—and Williams said many of those positions have already been filled.
To help sweeten the deal for CFA, the city offered the same incentive it offered World Strides, which moved from Pantops to Water Street two years ago: a 50 percent discount on the increase in property taxes attributed to the renovation for 10 years.
Among the cool features of the newly renovated property is a Living Machine, a man-made wetland which operates like an estuary by pumping and filtering wastewater, allowing it to be reused for certain functions.
collapses near Gander Mountain
Charlottesville’s branch of Gander Mountain—a chain that carries outdoor gear and hunting equipment—has closed one lane into its Route 29 store entrance after a retaining wall collapsed near the parking lot. According to NBC29, the lane was closed immediately after store managers spotted the problem on Sunday morning, which was presumably a result of the weekend’s rainstorm. The property is owned by developer Wendell Wood, who did not return a call for comment.
Gander Mountain, located near the Woodbrook Drive intersection of Route 29 across from the Rio Hill Shopping Center, opened its doors in the fall of 2013. The Charlottes-ville store was part of a sizable expansion last year, and was the fourth branch to open in Virginia.—C-VILLE writers
Construction at the CFA Institute’s new location in the former Martha Jefferson Hospital building should be complete by mid-January.