The Albemarle County School Board is looking at restricting school buses to major roads on snowy days, Tim Shea reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. County schools have closed for snow on 11 days this winter (prior to Monday’s snow), and the school transportation director figures that would have been closer to 7 days if they weren’t picking up kids on rural routes. This discussion is prompted by complaints of parents who live in developed areas of the county, whose subdivisions are plowed promptly, and are mystified by school closings. (Of course, there are huge swaths of the county where it can take a day or two for a plow to come through.) Those folks don’t know why school has to be cancelled for all kids just because a minority of kids can’t make it. So the proposal being considered is to establish “plan B routes,” basically driving school buses only on major roads, and putting the onus on parents (and kids) to get themselves to bus stops along those roads. The routes they’re looking at now would leave out 1,600 kids, or about 12% of students.
It turns out, interestingly, that Albemarle has already tried this, in the late 1990s. It didn’t work. There was no place for parents to park, due to snow berms along the side of the road, and of course there were safety issues associated with getting kids to those bus stops. (If it’s not safe for a school bus to drive on unplowed roads, then it’s probably not safe for parents transporting kids, or kids driving themselves to school.)
There’s an added twist. Albemarle is required by law, to provide door-to-door transportation for about 120 disabled students. Period. Some of those students live on roads that are not plowed promptly, which seems like a pretty serious obstacle to implementing this plan.
The board hasn’t taken any action, and isn’t planning to. They’re still looking to find out more about what’s to be done, if anything, about snow days resulting from rural road conditions.
Charlottesville member of the House of Delegates David Toscano says—and police confirm—that somebody broke into their home and assaulted his wife, Nancy Tramontin. NBC 29, C-Ville Weekly, and the Daily Progress all offer detailed coverage of yesterday’s attack. 35-year-old Claire L.K. Kennedy Ogilvie has been arrested and charged with malicious wounding, abduction, and what’s variously been described as “burglary” and “entering a house armed.” In a statement, Toscano says that “she was struck by her female assailant in the head several times but never lost consciousness,” and was treated at the hospital and released. The suspect is known to the victim, presumably in part because they both participated in Semester at Sea in the fall 2010 semester. Toscano describes Ogilvie as “a person who we knew but had not seen for over a year.”
Ogilvie is a chemistry teacher at William Monroe High School (in Greene County), and apparently holds degrees from Yale, UVA, and the George Washington School of Law. On her bio on WMHS’s website, she says that she used to be a patent attorney, and that she’s been a contestant on “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
The suspect is being held without bond in the jail. No motive is known for the attack.
In a stunning development, the Federal Highway Administration is requiring VDOT to prove that the Western Bypass will serve any real purpose and is better than alternatives, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. The FHA points to the growth of the region and questions whether the two-decade-old plan to build a bypass around our bypass makes sense anymore. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.) They’ve told VDOT to consider alternatives, which is almost certainly a euphemism for grade-separated interchanges along 29. In perhaps the most gutting line in the letter, they encourage VDOT to “work closely with local representatives to gain their support of the transportation improvement moving forward,” an acknowledgement that only a single member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors supports the proposed Western Bypass.
As Sean Tubbs writes in the article, “in combination with expected action by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to withdraw its support, construction of the Western Bypass in the near future now appears very unlikely.”
02/20 Update: Rubbing a little salt in the wound, BOS Democrats passed a surprise resolution against the Western Bypass at last night’s meeting. Ken Boyd, the lone Republican, objected to the unexpected appearance of the resolution, which was met with laughter from the audience and some members of the board. Boyd famously engineered the same thing in 2011, in that case causing the long-dead bypass to rise up again. The whole scene last night amounted to something like revenge fantasy pornography for bypass opponents, who now hold the high ground on nearly every front, an utter reversal from the position of defeat that they occupied three years ago.
City police are issuing a lot more tickets to cyclists lately, Maggie Ambrose reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. We’re talking about small numbers here—an increase from nine tickets in 2012 to seventeen tickets in 2013—with a plurality of the citations occurring along West Main / University Ave. (A map of every citation location is helpfully included in the article.) Bicyclists are obliged to follow the same transportation laws as motor vehicles, but some cyclists don’t seem to know or care that this is so, and ignore traffic lights, one-way signs, bike on sidewalks, etc.
Interestingly, cyclists who are cited by police are receiving points on their license, as if they had committed the same infraction while driving a car. Given that operating a bicycle doesn’t require a driver’s license, it’s hard to even see why a moving violation on a bicycle should have any impact on one’s driver’s license. (Should somebody who drives a car perfectly but a bicycle badly be punished by prohibiting them from driving a car, thus requiring them to travel by bicycle, which cannot be prohibited by the court?) That said, looking at § 46.2-492, it appears that this practice is required under the law, as there is no exception for non-motorized vehicles.
The Downtown Regal is being seriously overhauled, Graelyn Brashear writes in C-Ville Weekly. It will no longer be a Regal, and its owner and her new business partner are going to add a restaurant and cocktails. The owner of Violet Crown Cinema in Austin (it gets 4 stars on Yelp) wants to make this the second location in what he hopes will become a nationwide chain of such places. Regal’s 15-year lease recently ran out, not long after they managed to drive Vinegar Hill out of business by moving to showing mostly independent films. The new facility is slated to open by November.