In brief: Bridging forward, testing troubles, and more

Belmont Bridge PC: Jack Looney Belmont Bridge PC: Jack Looney

Building bridges

After nearly two decades of municipal hiccups and mishaps, the city’s plan to replace the Belmont Bridge is finally coming to fruition.

On Monday evening, City Council conducted a first reading on an allocation for the project: The state will pay $12.1 million, the federal government will pay $3.2 million, and the city will kick in $13 million. Council will hold a final vote on the decision August 17.

The city has completed right-of-way acquisition of necessary land and is now finalizing plans with the Federal Highway Administration and Virginia Department of Transportation, explained Jeanette Janiczek, Charlottesville’s Urban Construction Initiative program manager.

Last year, the Board of Architectural Review approved a certificate of appropriateness for the project. However, Janiczek said the certificate is currently being updated.

The city has been working to replace the nearly 60-year-old bridge since 2003, but has run into numerous issues. Initial designs were shot down by the public, and the consultants first hired for the project, MMM Design Group, shut their doors in 2014.

Kimley-Horn took charge of the project in 2017, and council approved a final design the following year.

The new bridge will include pedestrian lighting, benches, and bike racks, as well as a seven-foot-wide bicycle lane and a 10-foot-wide sidewalk, which will be separated from the road by a median. Ramps and stairs on the north end will connect the sidewalks to the Downtown Mall and Water Street.

Construction will begin next year, and is expected to be finished by 2023.

__________________

Quote of the week

“Don’t create these boards and these commissions as bandaids to shut people up.”

Police Civilian Review Board member Dorenda Johnson, speaking as a resident on City Council’s actions toward the board

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In brief

Riggleman running?

After losing the Republican primary to Bob Good, lame-duck Congressman Denver Riggleman told a Bloomberg podcast that he was “seriously considering” an independent run for governor. Riggleman said he lost his seat because he “refused to commit to supporting anything even close to racism or bigotry.” During his two-year term, Riggleman voted in line with Donald Trump 94 percent of the time.

Testing turmoil

UVA’s hopes for a hybrid semester rely on testing students at a high volume. That plan got off to a rocky start this week. The school sent an email to all students directing them to order COVID tests from the university website, but the website immediately crashed, multiple students report. Once the site came back online, other glitches emerged: The drop-down menu where students were supposed to input their home addresses omitted Rhode Island and New Jersey.

COVID outbreak

Cedars Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing facility in Charlottesville, has been devastated by a coronavirus outbreak, reports NBC29. As of July 31, 96 of the center’s 112 residents, and 44 of the 140 staff, have tested positive for the virus. Seventeen residents have passed away.

Name game

Since the resurgence of protests against police violence around the country, multiple local residents have submitted applications to the city asking for a street downtown to be named in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement. But City Council decided to hold off on voting on the name on Monday, waiting to have more “community involvement” in the matter. Council will now accept related honorary street name requests until August 31, and will consider all of the applications together before taking action.

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