A Pedestrian Bridge Over the Rivanna?

A local fellow is proposing a pedestrian bridge over the Rivanna, Tracy Clemons reports for NBC-29, for what sounds like a pretty sensible reason. As Pantops continues to develop—a process that will accelerate considerably with Martha Jefferson moving there—it’s becoming a sort of a black hole of pedestrianism. Though the whole area is just across the river from the Woolen Mills, the route to the extended downtown residential area requires following the bypass clear down to Long St. before turning onto High. This is the area in question:


View Larger Map

That’s a two, maybe two and a half mile trip, a considerable obstacle to anybody wanting to commute on foot or by bike. At this point, it’s just an idea: what it would cost or if there’s even any sense to the idea, nobody’s saying. But if the Pantops area is to continue to develop, as it undoubtedly will, it stands to reason that it will need a viable non-vehicular point of access to the rest of town. Is this it?

7:40pm Update: Sean Tubbs provided a way more detailed article about this for Charlottesville Tomorrow two days ago, from whose blog I assume NBC-29 got their story. Daily Progress reporters get used to seeing their stories appear on NBC-29 a few hours later, but taking stories from blogs without attribution is rather a new phenomenon.

13 Responses to “A Pedestrian Bridge Over the Rivanna?”


  • Your map has no red, but I see the article refers to Riverview.

    Anyhow, I think more pedestrian bridges over obstacles in town are quite necessary.

  • How about a lower impact, lower cost alternative, such as a small boat on a wire that would allow you to pull yourself (and your bike) across? (You would need to be able to pull the empty boat back as well.) Could be fun.

  • I recently starting biking to work from Belmont to State Farm on Pantops,so this would be perfect for me. Pantops will become a large employment area in the near future and we definitely need more ways to cross the river than just Free Bridge. We also need several pedestrian bridges over the railroad tracks in town.

  • This has been on the Parks Department’s to do list for some time….and I don’t see any other bridge projects:

    Pen Park to Darden Towe Park pedestrian/bicycle bridge – planned to cross the Rivanna near the Lewis and Clark exploratory center. Design details and engineering plan expected by January 2009. Project is a joint City/County effort.

    For more information on these and other parks improvements, contact the Parks Department at 970-3656.

  • Click here for more information from Charlottesville Tomorrow’s reporting and interviews on the pedestrian bridge proposal.

    Brian Wheeler
    Charlottesville Tomorrow

  • I hope Charlottesville creates these bridges or at least something like it. It’s one plan that makes a lot of sense and would ease some of the pains of the growth in the east side of town.

  • Maybe I’m just not firing on both hemispheres today, but I don’t see anything marked in red on that map. Let alone a bridge.

  • I ride from Belmont to Towe Park frequently, and I use the sidewalk on the Free Bridge.

    The worst part of it is actually the last few blocks of High Street and the intersection with the bypass.

    I can’t visualize a way to make that better without some major work.

    I was always wishing for a bridge to connect the VFW to the other side of the river. Then I’d just take Locust Ave past the bypass then head down to the river.

  • I have no idea of why my little red bridge rectangle wasn’t showing up, and I can’t figure out why it’s not showing up now. So I’ve just deleted the reference to there being one. I’m sorry about that.

  • With Martha Jefferson moving to the other side of the river, what I would think people would be more worried more than a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. How about just plain access to them? If anything would happen to Free Bridge, they only access to them would be from either Profit Road to Rt 20 to Pantops from the north or from I-64 after getting on at Rt 20 south from Charlottesville.

    With the increase in traffic across Free Bridge, access to one of the two area hospitals is going to slow at times for the majority of people living on the west side of the river.

  • Ms. Clemons:

    I’m the man you quote in your story on the Rivanna Footbridge but I don’t recall speaking with you about the Rivanna footbridge proposal.

    You’re rewriting of C-ville Tomorrow web log unfortunately misses a few key points.
    1) There is nothing that “must” be built before this bridge can be built. That’s just what Chris Gensic has laid out in his and the city’s planning – which isn’t gospel. (Please do not think that I have any issue with Chris’ planning, either. Just that he doesn’t think as deeply about the transportation need for this bridge. He is, after all, a parks and recreation employee.)
    2) The primary transportation value and huge need for this bridge is for Martha Jefferson employees, not State Farm. MJH has 1,500 people working for it and many of them have moved into the surrounding area of the present hospital location. When the hospital moves in 2012, the county projects the car traffic on the Free Bridge across the Rivanna will climb from 28,000 cars per day to 55,000. The Free Bridge is already a bottleneck twice a day. When this congestion becomes massive because the traffic will virtually double, people will demand another car bridge…UNLESS we address the issue today. State Farm’s 500 employees will be greatly inconvenienced as well, of course, if they don’t have alternatives to work but I have more concern for MJH patients who will be stuck in traffic trying to get to their appointments.
    3) MJH is considering having an electric shuttle bus able to go over that footbridge to carry patients/employees IF the bridge is designed/planned for that kind of vehicle (plus emergency vehicle access). MJH is also considering a good “transportation demand management” program to help/teach/incentive employees to use it BUT it must be there for that to happen.
    4) If the city-county apply for planning Transportation Enhancement Funds this year, there is a reasonable chance the feds/state will pay for the footbridge. After this year, it is less and less likely because those ‘non-motorized transportation’ funds will get more difficult due to more localities seeking them and because it will take the full, remaining three years to re-apply for construction funds to actually build the bridge and build it before MJH moves.
    5) Having the bridge in place prior to the move is crucial. Psychological data shows that once people begin a new habit – driving to work at the new location – it will be almost impossible to change that habit. BUT if there are alternatives WHEN people are forced to change habits (driving from wherever an employee lives to MJH’s city location HAS to change to get to the new location), that is the time when most humans successfully change their behavior.
    6) If we do this, we can, via the Darden B-school, the VDOT Transportaiton Research Council, the UVA architecture and planning school, and UVA med center, plus MJH public health, do wonderful research which leads the way for other American communities to “see” solutions and then figure out how to make them work.
    7) None of the other potential footbridges have very much transportation value. They are all recreational.

    Randy Salzman

  • Mr. Salzman,
    Where do the people live who will use this bridge? How many of them live within walking distance of the proposed bridge site? Of those, how many will actually walk? If they use a shuttle bus where will they board the bus and how will they get to that bus stop? If they drive to the bridge where will they park? How will people drive to the bridge; East Market, Chesapeake St. or East High?

    I would guess that the number of people that will use such a bridge to get to jobs at MJH, State Farm and other employers across the river would be very small, especially if they all walk and bike and would not justify the cost of the bridge. If there were enough users to justify the cost, the impact on the streets and neighborhoods leading to the bridge will be significant. If there are a lot of users most of them will drive.

    There are many, many people who live in what I consider to be walking or biking distance of their jobs but they don’t agree and so they drive. Do you have some way to change their minds?

    Cordially,
    Kevin Cox

  • There is a large crop of transients living in the woods on Pantops mountain and a few wireless CCTV cameras along the bike path as well as the proposed bridges might be a good idea. The bike path that parallels the Rivanna between Freebridge and the park at the end of Chesapeake Street has seen some nasty robberies. At least one woman has been knocked off her bicycle and kicked before her attackers made off with her purse.

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