Growing pains: Crozet roads can’t keep up with new developments

Western Ridge subdivision, while Eastern Avenue would run north-south and connect Route 240 to Route 250.  Western Ridge subdivision, while Eastern Avenue would run north-south and connect Route 240 to Route 250. 

By Mary Jane Gore

A fire along Old Three Notch’d Road caused a rush hour roadblock February 1 on one of Crozet’s main thoroughfares: Three Notch’d Road, aka Route 240. Instead of being able to drive to downtown Crozet, drivers had to make a U-turn, return to U.S. 250 and make a right, then another right onto Crozet Avenue/Route 240, only to be part of a massive backup at the light and four-way stop near the railway trestle at Crozet Square.

High-density growth area Crozet surely has the homes, but roadways have lagged behind. Will 2018 be the year several road projects begin in earnest?

“I think we’re one disaster away from being a critical need even more than it is now,” says realtor and Crozet resident Jim Duncan.

Some neighborhoods, like Parkside Village, Brookwood and Westhall, can only get in through Tabor Street, and that’s a concern for residents who “are afraid they can’t get out,” says Duncan.

“We’ve worked hard for the past 10 years, so it would be great to finally take some steps,” says Ann Mallek, chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and representative of the White Hall District, which includes Crozet, where two connector road projects are in the works.

Click to enlarge

One would connect Route 240 to Route 250 through Park Ridge Drive and the Cory Farm subdivision.

The proposed Eastern Avenue Connector, which runs north-south, still has two major portions that need to be constructed, says Kevin McDermott, transportation planner for Albemarle County.

The northern piece may break ground soon. “The private developers of the Foothills-Daly development are responsible for making a connection onto Park Ridge Drive and onto Route 240,” McDermott says, and they have submitted all of the required applications.   

To the south, a bridge that is needed to cross Lickinghole Creek to complete the connector road “is the sticking point and has been for many years,” says David Stoner, a member of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee. “It’s such an expensive proposition that it hasn’t risen to the top of the county’s list of projects to be funded.”

The southern-portion work is No. 12 on the county’s priority list of road projects, McDermott explains. “Because other priorities are already under way, No. 12 will be a priority in the next year,” he says.

Once the county identifies funds to place into the capital improvement plan, design work will begin, maybe within a year, he says. The county would likely apply for a revenue-sharing grant with the state to get the southern piece of the connector started. “You’re probably looking at two to three years out for construction if everything works well,” says McDermott.

Just ahead of the Eastern Avenue connector is the Library Avenue extension at No. 11.

Developer Frank Stoner (no relation to David Stoner) owns Crozet New Town Associates and its construction arm, Milestone Partners, which will develop the former Barnes Lumber site. His business has put up about $1.9 million so the county could file for matching VDOT funds for an east-west connector road. Funds may be awarded by late spring.

If a go, Phase 1 road funds would become available in July, Stoner says. Design would start immediately, followed by construction in one to one and a half years, according to McDermott.

The roads would extend from Library Avenue to High Street and then back to Crozet Square, Stoner says. Later the connector might extend as a new Crozet “main street” that would go east to Parkside Village and possibly beyond, he says.

Mallek says that because Crozet Square is an important town entrance with historic shopping, “everybody has a great stake in making sure that traffic moves successfully and that we get the rest of the connector finished. Then traffic could move west seamlessly, and we can take out the backup that happens sometimes under the [Crozet Avenue] trestle.”

Emilia Puie in Parkside Village says that she is hoping the east-west connector to downtown will happen soon. Her family moved from nearby Myrtle Avenue to get more sidewalks. “We love walking and we love Crozet’s downtown,” she says. “When the children are older they could go there by themselves.”

On the road to completion

Kevin McDermott, transportation planner for Albemarle County, says two more road projects are pending from funds the county gave community councils at the end of 2017. Crozet earmarked its share for:

• Sidewalks, curbs, gutters and regrading and repaving the Crozet Square area. New parking will
be angled.

• Safety improvements, including a sidewalk in front of the Starr Hill Brewery.

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