Meadowcreek, Not a Parkway?

Opponents of the Meadowcreek Parkway — myself included — have long complained that the road is just a wedge that would be used to pry open the park and develop the land. But proponents came up with the parkway concept, meaning that the road would travel straight through the park without any possibility of intersections, driveways, etc. Now WINA reports that “an unnamed developer is offering to pay for a section of the Meadowcreek Parkway that goes through his land…in exchange for having access to the road for a project he’s planning.” My supervisor, Ken Boyd, says it’s worth considering, because it would save the county the expense of buying any of his land for the right-of-way.

Even ignoring the abdication of the parkway concept, accepting such a proposal would be against the entire point of the road: an A-to-B, no-delays-possible express route from downtown to uptown. It’s allowing development that has made the 29 250 bypass steadily less effective — every traffic light, feeder road, fast food joint and gas station creates cross traffic and the very delays that made people want to bypass 29 250 in the first place. Why would we do that to the Meadowcreek Parkway?

This is why we can’t have nice things.

19 thoughts on “Meadowcreek, Not a Parkway?”

  1. Anyone who’s lived in the Charlottesville area long enough knew they’d find a way to screw this up. As it is won’t it already stop and cross melbourne rd just above rio/park st? How is that going to help anything?

    As it is I’m still not sure how this “Parkway” is going to be much different then widening Rio Rd. Unless I’m wrong- it seems to petty much just parallel Park St. and Rio Rd. Then dump out somewhere around catec on rio. And in my opinion that’s hardly a parkway and hardly worth the waste of land or money.

    A big chunk of the traffic back up I always run into on that road are back ups caused by the people blocking traffic as they turn in and out of the Church of the Covenent and the church across the road from it.

    From the sound of it this alleged “Parkway” will only make things worse.

  2. Don’t forget that virtually everyone using the Parkway will have gotten there by turning left onto Rio from 29. Have you ever taken that turn during rush hour? That’s always been a huge bottleneck, so speeding up the journey downstream doesn’t much help the people who will wind up using the parkway, even if it doesn’t wind up with a bunch of additional intersections.

  3. The parkway should remain without any side access. The is no question that Rio will be less crowed with a parkway. The reason rush hour is a problem is that east bound traffic goes from 2 lanes to 1 lane. If thru traffic were allowed on the parkway and local traffic went on Rio it would make a huge difference by eliminating that bottleneck.

  4. Proponents of the Parkway have held on to this idea for 30 years or so.

    There are very few ideas that old worth pursuing. If we were forward thinking we would look at small VTO vehicles, underground thruways, rapid transit that ran often and well, balloons (single and multiple seat), individual Buck Rogers shoulder rockets, slow moving hop-on hop-off trams, laser beam riding carryalls, atomic powered hi-speed trains, enclosed fluidic freeways, overhead cable cars, close Cville, etc.

  5. Repeat: limited access, limited access, limited access….that is the key to cleaning up our traffic mess.

  6. Peter Kleeman has been dogging this for years — keeping on the MPO, City Council, VDOT, and the Feds. For me, Peter’s the go-to man on Meadowcreek — a PhD from MIT actually means something, you know. Meadowcreek is an incredibly bad idea and one which should have been abandoned long ago.

    When I moved here in 1994, I wondered why there wasn’t a 29 bypass around Charlottesville. Since then, even that project has become moot with the hyper-development that’s been going on and all the idiocy since approved and/or built in Albemarle County on 29 North. Give it up as a lost cause. The next big horror coming at us is Pantops and nobody’s figuring out the connectors there —though there is mild discussion of an ‘eastern connector’. That, too, will soon be beyond amendment.

    Of course, this has been going on for half a century. There’s no north/south interstate between 81 and 95 because it was successfully lobbied against in Eisenhower’s day. NIMBY — seemingly as American as apple pie.

  7. When I moved here in 1994, I wondered why there wasn’t a 29 bypass around Charlottesville.

    That’s funny that the 29 bypass was so built up that you didn’t even recognize the bypass as the bypass.

    Without a moratorium on main-corridor growth north and south of the proposed bypass bypass (no, that’s not a typo), it’s not going to do any good. Likewise, unless there’s a prohibition on connecting roads to and from the bypass, it’ll just turn into another 29 bypass, with traffic lights, gas stations and fast food joints slowing it down to 35mph.

  8. I’ll believe the Meadowcreek Parkway will be built when I actually see the heavy equipment out there. Understand financial issues have pushed it back again. And then there is the sticky issue of interchanges. It has long gone from its original intention of relieving traffic for residents in the Park St/Rio Road area, to being something that development interests see as further opportunity to line their pockets.
    Where is Charlottesville going, and why is it in a handbasket?

  9. What the heck is the 29 Bypass with lights you are talking about? As far as I know, 29 Bypass starts, in the south, at Fontaine Ave. and continues north, past the Ivy Road exit where it becomes also 250 Byspass, up to the Seminole Trail/Emmet St. exit, where it rejoins 29 Business. From there north, there is only one 29, up until Madison.

    It’s been that way since the 1970’s at least, eh?

    The only confuson is that about ten years ago, the state renamed “29 Bypass” to just “29,” and left unchanged the name for the other road (Fontaine, JPA, Emmet), as “29 Business.”

  10. Another nitpick, the “original” intent of Meadowcreek was to destroy Suicide Hill so people would stop sledding down that hill on dumpster lids! No, it was to bring people downtown, and also make a 4-lane link down McIntire/Ridge/Fifth to I-64. The “original” idea was supported by the city Democrats because they were trying to save downtown. Ever been to downtown Waynesboro?

    Building a road along a creekbed is an old trick. You can’t develop there, so the land remains available when all around it has been built up. In the case of Meadowcreek Pkwy., you also have the fact that it is parkland (though deeded for protection to the city) and is surrounded by other large undeveloped parcels (outskirts of CHS, the old Heritage school at the northwest corner of Bypass/Rio, CATEC, the hay farm south of Rio Rd.).

    How this thing ended up in a creekbed is a bad story. The original reason did become the “protect Park Street and Rio Road” reason. An amazing number of city councilors came from the Park Street area at one time.

  11. You’re right, Colfer — I tend to forget that not all of 250 through town is a part of the 29 bypass, but that it ceases to be the 29 bypass when it hits 29 again (but continues to be the 250 bypass). Where 250 hooks up with 64 again, by Pantops, is not, in fact, 29 bypass, only 250 bypass.

    The word “bypass” has lost all meaning to me now. Bypass bypass bypass.

  12. Colfer – the 29/250 bypass was built in the 50s. It has not appreciably changed since then, except for the widening of 29N. In the mid-70s, Kmart was still the northern edge of town – beyond that was smooth sailing at 55mph.

    I’ll re-iterate what Colfer’s comments (and Elizabeth’s) make clear: extra bypasses won’t solve anything – the sprawl will be as far as Ruckersville long before road studies can even be completed.

    The only real fix for any of this is to improve flow on the existing arterials, and the key for that is unsignalized (ie, grade-separated exchanges or round-abouts) limited access roads.

    The rather old 29/250 Bypass still flows well, 50 years after it’s construction, because there are no traffic lights until the Kmart (Rugby/bypass/hydraulic) intersection (a major malfunction-junction), followed by the real choke downs at McIntyre and Pantops. Business 250 ends at Free Bridge, and so does the limited access. Thankfully this was preserved when UVa’s proposal to put in a traffic light at the North Grounds Connector was rejected; UVa couldn’t afford the GSE by themselves when the 29 bypass-bypass was shelved.

    We need to give up on bypasses, and learn to keep our historic arterials open and flowing. The fix for 29 traffic is to build express lanes down the center, limit any future driveway access to access roads, and require developers who want to throw up large new high-traffic developement (either commercial or residential) to pay for the cost of either grade-separated access or construction of access roads between their development and the closest existing access point.

    The Interstates flow, for the most part, because we don’t allow every Carter Myers who sets up a business lobby to dictate left-turn lights every hundred yards. Anyone who’s tried to take 29 from Gainesville into DC understands why, as bad as the congestion has gotten, I-66 is still so much better.

  13. can someone draw up a picture of the alternatives? I am consider one of the dumb folks who can easily get confused with words like grade-seperated and arterials. Maybe I am like the rest of the common folks who votes for the other guy. Wouldn’t a bypass from 64 to 29 around the airport be ideal? That would mean a lot of traffic not needing to go through cville could easily avoid the mess on 29. But maybe I am wrong?

  14. The 29 bypass-bypass for which VDOT has already acquired land (all the land, I think) has a defined route, but no funding. It goes from the Ivy Rd. exit, through a small mountain, across Garth Rd, alongside the reservoir, and comes out at 29’s twin bridges over the South Fork of the Rivanna River. That’s not very close to the airport! The bypass you describe is both less ridiculous and more unlikely.

    I say make U.S. 15 the new bypass, interstate it from Farmville Culpeper. Then stub it in from Lynchburg. Outside of a few historic areas (Green Springs in Louisa), it might be welcomed for “economic development,” esp. in the south end.

  15. can someone draw up a picture of the alternatives? I am consider one of the dumb folks who can easily get confused with words like grade-seperated and arterials.

    I think you’ll find the 250 interchange website useful, specifically section 2Fa-f, which lists the six interchange possibilities.

    Wouldn’t a bypass from 64 to 29 around the airport be ideal? That would mean a lot of traffic not needing to go through cville could easily avoid the mess on 29.

    I believe you’re confusing the two new roads being discussed. The purpose of the Meadowcreek Parkway is to parallel Rio Road in order to get traffic from downtown to 29N without taking the 250 bypass or Rio. Then there’s the 29 bypass bypass which, as colfer explains, has a route that bypasses very little of the traffic. Now that the lights are synched clear through 29, the proposed bypass wouldn’t save mere seconds for the tiny number of people who are driving from north of Charlottesville to south of Charlottesville. (I don’t know if you’ve spent much time on 29 south of C’ville, but it’s basically empty. And for good reason — there’s nowhere to go.)

  16. I thought the MPO had a website showing various proposals at one point too…I don’t have it bookmarked though.

    The reason a 64-to-29 bypass, all the way up to the airport wouldn’t do any good is that the 29N sprawl is already past the airport. As Waldo commented about the Northpointe development, the ‘dream’ of sprawl from Ruckersville to C’ville is rapidly becoming a reality.

    All that will happen with such a bypass is that it will spur further development in Greene County (something they think they’d like) of both residential and the supporting commercial properties. Basically, it will be really fast to get out of cville, and up to Greene, where farmland prices and zoning are friendly to “cheap” development (no externalities). Then, there will be a rush to expand the Greene County “main street” (29N at Ruckersville) for revenue to offset the new costs of all that residential growth.

    This will happen as soon as the plans for such a road are finalized; the road will be obsolete as a bypass by the time they finish building it. Go down to Lynchburg for a look at this type of development – their new bypass (which replaces several older ones) now connects Amherst, VA to the southside of Lynchburg. Already, commercial development at the south end of Amherst is picking up.

    Meanwhile, all the old strip development closer in is cut off from the revenue flow (because cars can get around it) and begins to die off – ugly commercial buildings with no tennants. The “growth” part of this system occurs only at the edge where the expansion is taking place.

    My bet is that we’ll see Madison start to seriously duplicate Greene in another decade.

  17. I think Lynchburg is still miffed that I-64 was routed through Cville instead of LBurgh. Think of it, they’re really stuck down there with no interstate. If you think 29S is empty, try one of the 4-lane highways down around Farmville or Danville, esp. the east-west ones.

    So politically Lburg maybe should be mollified somehow, not just put off with a lot of mumbo about our rich little Cville issues. It’s a big deal down there, and they tend to vote for the statewide majority party.

    US 15 baby!

    Nevermind that prosperity comes from Blue states and towns. The Red staters are going to suck us dry. Give ’em 15.

  18. At the Council meeting, David Brown stated his position (and many others nodded in agreement) that any agreement such as that reported by WINA would be firmly against such a proposition. Kevin Lynch was very quick to remind everyone of the conditions placed on the agreement for the road to move forward. He mentioned them, I dont have my notes, but the conditions were rigorous and certainly do not include development or another entrance. Finally- get involved! The steering committee meets regularly and the website is thorough and updated.

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