Closing the loop
The Rivanna Trail has encircled Charlottesville for more than 20 years. Earlier this month, the trail became a little more complete, when a 140-foot-long pedestrian bridge was lowered into place over Moores Creek, closing one of the few remaining gaps in the trail’s 20-mile loop.
Local environmentalists expressed enthusiasm about the bridge, which was paid for by Albemarle County and the developers working on rehabbing the old woolen mill that overlooks the river.
“This is economic development that focuses on making the community a better place for all,” said Piedmont Environmental Council community organizer Peter Krebs in a press release praising the bridge. “By providing more places to walk and bike, and everyday access to nature, projects like this support residents’ health, productivity, and prosperity.”
Photographs from the middle of the 20th century show that a wooden footbridge once crossed the creek near where the new bridge sits, but the woolen mill changed hands multiple times over the years, and the original bridge disappeared.
Because the pandemic has upended much of our regular forms of recreation, and made gathering indoors unsafe, the Rivanna Trail has had a significant increase in use in recent months. A trail counter from earlier in the spring noted that this year, the trail has seen around four times as much foot traffic as the same period last year.
Quote of the week
“Nothing would be worse for the economy than UVA students coming back [and causing] a super spreader event.”
—City Councilor Michael Payne, on Charlottesville’s emergency ordinance
Protests continue in Richmond, and police continue to arrest people willy-nilly. This week, journalists for VCU’s student paper The Commonwealth Times, as well as two activists with Charlottesville ties and large social media followings, Molly Conger and Kristopher Goad, were among those detained on dubious grounds. Conger was held overnight, and after her release, tweeted that the police “are trying to break our spirits, but they’re only proving our point.”
Charlottesville-based educational travel company WorldStrides, one of the larger employers in town, filed for bankruptcy last week. Meanwhile, some UVA students received mailers this week from the study abroad office, advertising future trips. That’s optimistic, as most nations have banned American travelers from entering.
UVA made national news earlier in the spring when it unexpectedly denied two well-qualified Black faculty members tenure. Now, the school is eating crow: last week, Dr. Paul Harris, an assistant professor of education, announced that the decision had been overturned, and his tenure case had been approved by provost Liz Magill.
As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise, Charlottesville and Albemarle County both decided on Monday to revert to certain Phase Two guidelines. Beginning August 1, masks will be mandatory in public, indoor capacity for restaurants will be capped at 50 percent, and gatherings of more than 50, excluding spontaneous demonstrations, will be prohibited.