Traffic disruptions to expect this summer


Construction on the Jefferson Park Avenue bridge near Fontaine Avenue will continue through September, one of several VDOT projects causing headaches for local drivers. (Photo by Graelyn Brashear)

Now that the students are heading out for the summer, traffic should be more manageable around the University. But what about other areas of Charlottesville, Albemarle, and beyond?

Ongoing road construction may cause delays and headaches for months to come. We’ve got the scoop from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Route 250 bridge at Shadwell
According to VDOT, the Route 250 bridge project, which began in October 2011, will have the biggest impact on traffic for Charlottesville-area drivers.

VDOT has closed the bridge to through traffic for a major overhaul. Fire trucks and other large vehicles have been unable to use the bridge for years due to its deteriorating structure, but once the construction is complete it will meet current design standards and allow all legal-weight loads.

A marked detour now directs traffic on Route 250 to I-64 between Exit 124 at Pantops Mountain and Exit 129 at Black Cat Road. Drivers should expect traffic congestion and delays, particularly during high-volume periods, until the bridge is finished on July of this year.

Fairfield-Echols, LLC, out of Fisherville, Virginia, is completing the $1.8 million project.

Jefferson Park Avenue bridge

Residents in the Jefferson Park Avenue and Fontaine areas may have noticed an abrupt lack of construction activity on the bridge over the railroad tracks near Fontaine once the original span was torn down. VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter explained there has been plenty of activity since the project began in April 2011, but it’s been out of sight. Before a new bridge could be built, he said, workers had to complete a significant amount of construction below street level, including replacing and realigning utility lines.

The $5.8 million bridge should be completed this September, with the added improvements of sidewalks, bike lanes, and wider travel lanes. It will be built higher and longer to accommodate the Norfolk Southern Railroad’s future expansion plans, he said.

Currently, the bridge is closed to drivers, and the alternate routes for traffic using nearby roads will remain in effect until construction is complete. Pedestrians can use a temporary bridge over the site, which will be removed when the new bridge opens.

McIntire Road Extended
When this road connecting Melbourne and the Route 250 bypass is complete, VDOT says drivers entering Charlottesville from the north will benefit from the additional traffic capacity.
Key Construction Company from Clarksville, Virginia, began the project in August 2011 for $3.4 million, and VDOT expects the road to be complete and open during summer 2013. The build won’t heavily impact traffic, but drivers should be aware that until the project is done, there will be heavy equipment entering the area from the south side of the intersection of Melbourne Road and the John W. Warner Parkway.

Jarmans Gap Road
Nearly a mile of Jarmans Gap Road from Route 240 West—also known as Crozet Avenue—is being widened to include bike lanes in both directions and a northbound sidewalk at a cost of $3.9 million.

General Excavation Inc. of Warrenton, Virginia, began construction in May 2011, and walkers, runners, and bicyclists should expect use of the road and new bike lanes and sidewalk this summer. VDOT said there’s still resurfacing and road marking work to complete, and in the meantime, drivers will see short-term lane closures with flaggers directing traffic.

I-64 interchange—coming soon
VDOT has proposed to reconstruct the half-mile stretch where I-64 meets Route 15 (Exit 136) at Zion Crossroads as a diverging diamond interchange. Officials say the design will eliminate traditional left turns that cross over oncoming traffic, a move they say will make the interchange safer for drivers from both directions. VDOT identified the need for ramps with increased capacity in 2007, but Hatter said the project likely won’t start for another 12 to 18 months.

According to Hatter, the interchange will be a design-build project, with bids solicited from contractors. He said the RFP has already been advertised; a contract has not yet been awarded, but companies will soon submit technical proposals and bids so the project can move forward.