Meadowcreek Parkway Lawsuits Planned

Two separate groups are exploring lawsuits to stop the Meadowcreek Parkway, Will Goldsmith writes in the latest C-Ville Weekly. The Sierra Club figures that federal laws protecting parkland and historic sites are enough to mount a challenge, while a group of independent critics accuse the city and the county of circumventing proper environmental review by claiming that the completed project consists of a road that stops in the middle of the park. Nobody’s filed anything yet, but the president of the local chapter of the Sierra Club says that they “plan to use these laws to protect McIntire Park,” which sounds like a clear statement of intent. Lawsuits are about all that could halt the road at this point; it may well be the only road planned in Virginia for which funding exists.

23 thoughts on “Meadowcreek Parkway Lawsuits Planned”

  1. Wonder if these folks would like to attach the destruction of the west side of McIntire park to their potential lawsuit? We do not need a 70,000 sq ft YMCA aquatic/fitness center in the park. I know I am willing to contribute monetarily to any lawsuit which would stop the building of the YMCA building in McIntire Park.

  2. They certainly should attach any lawsuit that would address the west side destruction.
    I wonder though if the Parkway may end up being another casualty of the present budget crunch and the crisis in the economy, like the lights and the rescue squad. And the unpredictability of gas prices which has had noticeable effects on people’s driving habits.
    Yes, they are down now-but there is no guarantee they won’t shoot back up past the $4/gal. level in the near future.

  3. Jogger you make an excellent point, they would not dare go after the YMCA. This is a naked attempt to stop the building of a road because the Sierra Club wants horrible traffic. They believe this is the only way to limit growth and foster a climate that will mandate mass transit. All no matter what the people of the area and it’s elected representatives want. Should they enter this suit I will never give give them another donation. That would be a shame because I supported most of their other projects like National forests,endangered species and global warming.

    HollowBoy, I believe the money for the road exists now. Budgets will limit future roads but not thoses already funded.

  4. Next thing you are going to hear is that a majority of people don’t support the Parkway’s development and that it will actually only take 1800 cars per day off of the other roads in existence. Sound familiar?

  5. Isn’t that shift 1800 cars from somewhere else to here? New roads don’t eliminate traffic: they simply shift where it goes.

  6. There is one thing that both of these projects have in common: they will both effect a dramatic increase in the number of people who utilize McIntire Park. The rectangular field & YMCA will bring a lot more people to the west side of the park for recreational and athletic pursuits, while the Meadowcreek Parkway will bring a lot more people to the east side of the park to drive right through it and spew noise pollution and exhaust. Which project is more in keeping with the intent of our park system?

  7. Nobody these days is running highways down through the center of town but No. 1 Charlottesville. Lead the World Class way, Cville!

  8. What I’ve still not seen is a single coherent reason for building the road backed up by real data.

    Unfortunately, they’ve sold Park Street residents on this idea that once it is build that their road will go back to being a ordinary and safe neighborhood again. The truth is that at best, it’ll have no effect, and at worst it’ll actually increase traffic. After all, at least one new development on Park Street is marketing itself as being close to the new road.

    You better believe that Hurt, Wood, et al, all have bulldozers idling and ready to move on new developments once it is built. If the goal is increasing development in an area that shouldn’t have been build up so much in the first place, then I suppose it will accomplish that…

    If we really want to solve the woes of Park Street, then it could be done within one month. Put up a gate, halfway between Downtown Charlottesville and 29/Rio. Then give access only to public transit and emergency vehicles. See? Cost efficient, simple, and effective.

  9. Lonnie you problem with the gate is that all city taxpayers paid for the road not the residents of Park Street by themselves. This was how it was when they moved there. And of course what about the Churches- the bapist church has a large parking lot. One cross the Bapist Church at their own peril.

    The Meadowcreek Parkway cannot lead to more traffic on Park Street. You want data- go stand on the bridge at park street and count the traffic coming on and off 250 bypass during rush hour. This cluster would be significantly reduced with the Parkway. This would be reduced with the parkway which would have (perhaps 4) less traffic lights than Rio. People want a faster way to go.

    oh and not to make too fine a point of it but ask 80% to 90% of the people who don’t want the road one question. When is the last time, if ever, they used the areas of the park that will be losted to the parkway? (I have a feeling that Waldo and one other here might answer that they have in the last 2 years)

  10. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that I have visited that strip of parkland in the past 24 months. (I’ve come within a stone’s throw, and I can’t imagine the park will be real nice when it’s right next to a busy road.) But that doesn’t make the parkland any less valuable to me. I haven’t used the polar ice caps recently, but I think it’s important that they stick around.

    The reduction of traffic on Park Street isn’t liable to add up to much in the end, and I think there are lots of reasons why that’s so. I’d be quite happy to make a bet on that one. Once (if) construction begins on the parkway, I’ll put up a chunk of money, maybe $100, that Park Street traffic won’t be significantly reduced some period after the new road opens. Metrics and details will need to be worked out, and somebody will have to agree to bet against me, and we’ll pick a charity that will get the proceeds.

    I think we’re all better off when people—especially stakeholders, which I’m admittedly not in this case—are willing to risk embarrassment by making measurable, public wagers about the effects of controversial government programs.

  11. VDOT has done studies, referenced previously on this blog which show that the parkway would not decrease traffic, since there were so many developments planned that were waiting in the road that once it was built traffic would increase by 18,000 car trips per day. So, while the parkway would take some of that new traffic, enough of it would still flow down parkstreet to match or exceed current levels within a few years (there may be a some reduction in traffic until the new developments are built).

    Keep in mind, this is VDOT saying this, who has been advocating for the road. I’ve not seen ANY data or study yet that shows a decrease of traffic on Park Street when this road is built. It’s all purely wishful thinking on the part of park street residents. Perlogic, show me the data showing traffic will decrease beyond a few years, and I’ll gladly recant.

  12. I am confused- the new road will be used but it won’t help. That almost doesn’t make sense. So never building a road again is the same as building many roads?

    Your argument is now is that the if we build the road, traffic will intially drop and then increase, eventually Park Street will return at the level it is now. Isn’t that a good thing? So the best plan according to the detractors is too do nothing and let traffic on Park street get even worse than it is now?

  13. Perlogic,

    The goal would be to have a solution that is better than if we did nothing. The point here is that according to VDOT’s own studies, this road would cause more traffic than it mitigates. Given the price tag, I’m not sure a two or three year reprieve is really worth the expense.

    I’m not against all roads, but I think a measure of a good road is that it provides some kind of long term solution. The 250 bypass was successful in that sense. What made it different is that it actually was a bypass, and served to channel traffic quickly through and around the city. The Meadowcreek parkway’s design isn’t to channel through and around, but rather as a private freeway for poorly designed development. It’s like McDonalds offering coupons for heart bypass surgery.

    The MPW was originally planned when people thought it necessary to funnel people downtown to revitalize businesses there. Since that time, other strategies have been successful at renewing the area, and adding more traffic downtown is neither necessary nor desirable anymore (especially since making it more pedestrian friendly has been part of it’s success).

  14. Lonnie your VDOT link doesn’t work for me so I can’t look at the numbers.

    I still don’t understand how this road can cause more traffic on Park. Is this based on growth? Otherwise assuming somewhat static numbers, a new road would have to help. I think our current economic condition points to little or no growth.

    For example isn’t the road going to take some traffic off Rio and Park? I do not believe that people coming from Pantops won’t take Meadowcreek instead of Rio if they are going to 29 north. It seems illogical to say otherwise. The long lines and backup at the Park street bridge would be avoided.

    Seriously, I don’t understand how this (already funded) road will make things worse. Are you really saying that spending 25 to 30 million won’t make a difference but will actually do harm?.

  15. This where our political process and civil society is so broken. The issue has been submitted to the political branches time and time again, the antis have lost time and time again, so they run to the courts to have the democratic process thrown out the window. It doesn’t matter whether they win or lose or have anything resembling a cognizable claim as long as they can keep the matter tied up in litigation for years to come.

    The courts ought to throw suits like these out the window the day they’re filed on the grounds that they are political issues, not legal ones. And anyone who gives money to the Sierra Club ought to be ashamed of themselves. Their contempt for democracy is revolting.

  16. The judiciary is the third branch of our democratic form of government. Part of its purpose is to oversee the executive and legilative branches.

  17. The courts ought to throw suits like these out the window the day they’re filed on the grounds that they are political issues, not legal ones.

    I don’t think that’s quite what Felix Frankfurter had in mind when he wrote that “courts ought not to enter this political thicket.” :)

  18. Bruce,

    The people of Charlottesville do not want this road. The sprawl developers of Albemarle do.

    The Parkway should have been killed in 2000 but Carvati flip – flopped and betrayed those who voted for him.

    Have you really looked into the process
    enough to say that the pro parkway officials are following the law?

    They are not. It takes 4, not 3 city councilors to convey city land according to the Va constitution.

    Also, the city is accepting Federal $ for part of the Parkway (the interchange) while attempting to evade Federal parkland and historic protection laws for the rest of the project.

    If anyone wants to help preserve our central park, feel free to email

  19. Perlogik, On opening day the Parkway would increase traffic congestion in Charlotteville by making a cut-through out of the city. Additionally, new roads cause more driving and enable more sprawl (auto-dependant growth) which further increases demand on our road system as we increase the supply. It is a well documented reality some call “induced travel”. Sure Rio and part of 29 north would probably flow better for a few years until they once again slowed and clogged – only now there would be another yet road spewing pollution onto our school, park, and downtown. What the Parkway would do is provide developer welfare for the owners of North Point, Hollymead, Belvedere and other half baked sprawl plans. These are the people who have continued to push for this dinosaur because it would increase the monetary value of their land by shifting the traffic burden to the city. If the Parkway is not built, these places could eventually become real mixed-use urban centers, but only in the context of an effective transit system. We can not pave our way out of congestion. We can redirect transportation funding away from new roads toward modes which use our existing infrastructure most efficiently – walking, biking, ridesharing and transit. A great example is the Meadowcreek Bikeway with out the road. It would be much cheaper, take cars off the road without causing more traffic somewhere else or in the future while building rather than degrading individual and community health.

  20. In the last city council meeting all 3 of the councilors (Huja, Talliaferro, Brown) voting to move forward with this project stated that they believed building the MCP was necessary for the “health and vitality of the downtown businesses”. Yet they have absolutely no evidence to support this claim (other than their own hunches). What’s interesting to me is that the existing traffic studies do not indicate a significant benefit in improving travel times on 29 or 250. And as others have said it is doubtful there will be any lasting improvement to Park St / Rio Road. So, the question is what exactly is the *benefit* of building this road?? Let’s give the councilors the benefit of the doubt and say that there will be some measurable improvement to downtown businesses. Well, why not study it? If anyone is familiar with the Hillsdale Drive Extended project, you can go to the website for that project and you will find a full blown economic impact analysis that was done to determine the economic effects from the project to area businesses. This is not rocket science. We know how to study this stuff. Well, where’s the economic impact analysis for the MCP? If it exists I’ve never seen it and would love to see how big this boost is going to be for Charlottesville’s business community. My guess is that the benefit will be pretty small given the costs of the project. And those costs are more than the capital costs of building a road, they are the costs of loss of parkland, environmental damage/mitigation and continued support for sprawling development patterns. The decision making process is a little unsettling. Facts don’t seem to quite as important as a bunch of opinions.

  21. Stratton, your logic seems to be the best road is no road at all. The Meadowcreek Parkway cannot increase traffic congestion unless there are many more cars then before it was built. It should move existing traffic to a road better designed to handle it and keep it moving. The illogic of more roads equal worse traffic in this area is not remotely proven to me. More roads don’t cause traffic, more cars do.

    Growth levels here do not back up your assertions that traffic level will be built of quickly. But I do thank you for agreeing that this road MCP will reduce traffic on Rio and Park, which is exactly why it’s being built after 30 years.

  22. JR, of course the road doesn’t make much sense today. It was designed for conditions over 40 years ago, when downtown was a major retail district for central VA. When Maurice Cox was elected to Council in 1997, he led the questioning of the construction of this road and demanded new traffic studies that considered the impact of the road which was re-designed from a 4-lane highway to a 2-lane road without trucks and a lower speed limit (down from 45 mph). It was then that it was determined that the effect on traffic on Park Street was questionable over a questionable time period. Also, a number of people questioned spending so much money to relieve traffic on a relative short stretch of city streets and the traffic calming fixtures were place on Park Street to reduce the number of cars using it. Believe it or not, there was a reduction of traffic count on that street.
    People should remember that, as population continues to grow in central VA, there will be more and more congestion that is totally unrelated to the MP and Park Street.

  23. When I was going up in C-ville in late 50s & 60s we bought about everything we got downtown. Now 40 years later everyone congrats themselves on downtown. Its a big food and book court. You have to drive everywhere else to buy something. So I’ll use the road if and when it is built just like I use Park/Rio to get to Rt 29. Maybe when the new shopping center South of town at Willougby where Dr. Hurt used to live in 1960s will help. The Wal mart across the mountain is much better than RT 29 one. In the last 40 years downtown has lost its diversity of businesses. You have to drive elsewhere.

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