Agency says MCP needs another look

Agency says MCP needs another look

A day before the public hearing for the proposed 250-McIntire Interchange, one part of the Meadowcreek Parkway (MCP), Marc Holma sent a letter to the City of Charlottesville arguing that the city had not included enough parties in the project’s planning. This might have been just another angry letter from another principled and vocal opponent of the MCP. But it wasn’t.

The State Department of Historic Resources says that because the Meadowcreek Parkway interchange overpass is so tall, it affects more historic properties than are currently being considered.
Previous C-VILLE coverage:

Pick one: public gets a look at last two interchange designs
A vocal opposition shows up at the MCP public hearing

Council makes final step towards MCP
Norris forced to choose between principle and pragmatism

Meadowcreek Parkway to-do list in city
Council approves two designs for 250 interchange

MCP may have future legal problems
Parkway project’s segmentation could be illegal

Commission approves MCP interchange
Commissioner Lucy frustrated with final review

Parkway interchange design gets support
Committee likes roundabout design as new city gateway

State funding problems affect local roads
Meadowcreek Parkway could be stalled

County approves road priorities
Meadowcreek Parkway tops the list

Holma is an architectural historian who works for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR). And in pointing out that the city hadn’t been consulting the DHR as it drafted important environmental documents, it appears Holma’s letter has managed to widen the discussion of an interchange that would significantly alter the landscape (and soundscape) of what is now a quiet corner of McIntire Park.

"It’s my understanding that they are getting together and trying to organize a consulting-parties meeting," says Holma.

Angela Tucker, the city’s development services manager, says that city staff are working to set up the meeting. "Perhaps some folks weren’t aware that we were proceeding so quickly with our environmental documents," she says, "so I think it was really just some timing overlaps. I’d like to think at this point, we’re all getting on the same page."

In his letter, Holma recommended that along with DHR, Preservation Piedmont, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and Charlottesville citizen and longtime MCP opponent, Rich Collins, be included as consulting parties.

The MCP is set to run through McIntire Park. But it’s the interchange at 250 and McIntire Road—and its 40′ overpass—that is raising questions about the interchange’s impact on numerous historical sites.

According to Holma’s letter, the planned interchange will affect two houses designed by renowned local architect Eugene Bradbury. Also affected are the terraced gardens at the Rock Hill estate, McIntire High School and the McIntire Park golf course. All of these properties are eligible for listing to the National Register of Historic Places.

"Part of the consultation with the public is to inform them of what’s out there historically," says Holma. "There was some consultation regarding eligibility of properties. But there hasn’t been any consultation regarding effect."

The area of potential effect—known as the APE—could be greater thanks to the 40′ overpass, plans for which were announced to the public November 1. Once the DHR learned of the overpass, it requested that the city take a second look. Raising traffic 40′ off the ground makes the road more visible and increases traffic noise.

"The area of potential effect is for direct and indirect effects," says Holma, "so depending on how far it can be viewed, it may require the APE to be brought out a little bit more."

Tucker is not so sure about that. "I’m not certain of revisiting [the APE]," she says, "but that may be part of the process. I think that will be determined once we discuss it with consulting parties."

Holma makes it clear that he has every reason to believe the city will work with the new consulting parties and revisit the APE. "Ideally, the city should have provided DHR a draft of the EA [environmental assessment] for its review, and any comments received from us would have been incorporated into the document," Dolma wrote in his letter. "The current EA makes assumptions about the effect that the project will have on historic properties that DHR cannot support at this time."

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