Construction Begins on Meadowcreek Parkway

I’m guessing some people just lost some bets: ground has been broken on the Meadowcreek Parkway, Rachana Dixit writes in the Progress. But it’s being done in an awfully strange way. The road is actually three roads, connecting in series, or so it is on paper. Albemarle County is building the 1.4 miles of the two mile road that runs through their municipality. That runs from Rio Road to a spot in the middle of McIntire Park. The next half mile is to be built by Charlottesville, though they don’t yet have the necessary permits to do that, and it’s not a sure thing that they’ll come through. And the last bit is the interchange—where it’ll connect to the bypass and to McIntire Road—which is VDOT’s project. It’s possible that we’ll end up with a 1.4 mile, $11.8M road to nowhere. The two-lane thruway is scheduled for completion in October 2011.

25 thoughts on “Construction Begins on Meadowcreek Parkway”

  1. Yeah.. VDOT is using the area by Charlottesville High School (the old softball field with the power lines running over it) as a staging area.. just found out as I had planned to run some kickball games there, but not anymore. :\

  2. Gee, chad why don’t you re-schedule your kick ball games in the median of I-64? There are tons of places to play kick ball. Use your head, as a matter of fact you probably need to get off of your head and give it a good shake.

  3. Jogger:

    Not on Sundays — there’s not enough open grass fields or softball fields in the area to accomodate. In recent months, both Meade Park, the Meadowcreek Field, and 2 fields at Darden Towe have either been lost or given away for political purposes.

    Thanks for the snark, though. You sound like a real positive person.

  4. This 1.4 mile stretch of road to nowhere can always be converted into a legitmate racetrack or dragsrip. Otherwise, It probably will after dark anyway. I hope there’s not many homes close to the road. You’ll never be able to sleep with all the little fart can exhaust ricer racers out there every night. (fart can exhaust – another law that is not enforced in the city or county)

  5. That’s too bad, but not entirely unexpected.

    Remember this bad planning move. We’ll come to regret it later. I predict this will cause a new surge of development on 29 and around this new road which will rather quickly render it pointless.

    Taking the broader perspective, I can’t help but wonder if the economic stimulus will create more projects like this that encourage suburban sprawl, (and help prop up a housing market that is still overvalued…)

    We have an opportunity in this economic crisis to rethink the way we are building our communities in a way that goes far beyond making some green renovations. After all, it’s not a terrible thing that McMansions are going into foreclosure, or that unnecessary roads are lacking funding. Some problems shouldn’t be fixed.

  6. Maybe this is the county’s way of pushing the city to get it done? Seems potentially like a very expensive game of chicken.

  7. Chad, I believe you’re absolutely right. The county is building it to force the cities hand and make it politically difficult for them to back out (regardless of the fact that Albemarle hasn’t come through on the Eastern Connector as it promised…)

    I think Kevin Lynch was right when he was on council and the city should hold out and require that the eastern connector and/or the western bypass gets built before building their half of the road. Without those, this will become the defacto bypass, with rather bad results.

  8. If the city doesn’t want to complete their portion of the road why wouldn’t the county or VDOT step in and complete the project? The county could withhold some of it’s revenue sharing money or whatever to either complete the project with or force the cities hand. Sounds pretty petty on the part of the city, not to complete their portion of the road. You may not like the road, but it will do more good than harm and its way past time to have it built.

  9. “it will do more good than harm”

    I challenge you to show me how. I’ve never seen a single argument not refuted by VDOTs own stats that show this road will provide a positive benefit. VDOT themselves said this road will have a failing level of service in just a few years after being build due to all the development it would cause. In addition, it shows traffic levels on park back up to the current levels rather quickly.

    So, why are we building this road? I still haven’t gotten a single straight argument about that. I can only guess that it has to do with the City and County’s deal with VDOT, which may cost them money if they don’t build it.

  10. This is a no access road except from Rio and at McIntire Road. How will this road cause development?
    The meadowcreek parkway, eastern connector and western by-pass need to be stand alone projects. The city shows its true colors when they try to black mail someone using the meadowcreek parkway as the carrot.
    I ask you Lonnie what is wrong with development? unless that is you are just opposed to any type of development. The city is trying to build on every vacant piece of ground within the city limits. Within the next few years there won’t be a piece of vacant ground in the city if they don’t change their way of thinking.

  11. Jogger, you ask “what is wrong with development?”

    I’m actually not opposed to development, but I am against poorly done development. For example, why are we developing way out near the airport instead of redeveloping underperforming properties like Albemarle Square?

    It was a bad idea from the beginning to build businesses all along 29 north, then put a massive glut of homes at the end of it full of commuters with only one way to get to and from charlottesville (i.e. through the sprawling strip of stores and traffic lights). It’s just bad planning. So, what do we do to fix the situation? We implement more bad planning by creating a private freeway for developments north of charlottesville and on RIO, which will only compound the situation.

    What should we have done instead? Implement true mixed use planning. Now the Faux Town Centers like Hollymead, but real livable communities with sidewalks, greenspace, restaurants, and busnesses that people living in those communities might actually work at. Furthermore, don’t dump all the developments in a massive strip along a road other communities need to use. Rather put those developments near existing infrastructure, and close to the city (or in it). Find areas that aren’t performing well, or are just a waste of space and build them up instead of out. Can’t be done? Our grandparents managed to achieve these goals just fine, certainly with all our modern engineering we can do as well as they did…

    As to the access issue, it seems dishonest unless you really believe this road by itself is a viable road. This previous entry on C-ville news explains in great depth exactly how it will increase traffic on Park Street and cause development.

  12. Jogger, the fact that uber-developer Wendell Wood owns land along the parkway’s route tells you everything you need to know about the future of that area.

    Access? Wood wouldn’t let a trivial little thing like access get in his way.

  13. Victoria, Wendell has far better areas to develop than the property lying along the meadowcreek parkway. If you check the land records you will find that he doesn’t own as much as you might think in this area. This will be one of the very last areas which will be developed.
    Lonnie the development along 29 was approved by the city and county BOS. Are you saying their wisdom is fallible? I think they knew what they were doing. Just not doing it the way you think it should be done.

  14. Yes, I’m saying the BOS made a mistake by dumping all the commercial development onto 29 North. To be fair, when those decisions were first made, it seemed to be the status quo in terms of how communities addressed growth and zoning. It could even be though of as a failure of the entire concept of zoning. The very idea that you should put businesses here and residences over there is a huge part of the problem. From the people in local government I’ve talked to, they’ve basically told me that they intentionally dumped all the unsightly growth there so that they could protect the rest of the county.

    so, in some ways it’s completely understandable that this policy was first developed; however, it’s certainly not a policy that I feel should continue especially now that we know there are much better ways to do things. Building a road to further grow an area that should have never been put there in the first place is a mistake.

  15. I thought the county’s portion stopped at Melbourne Road which will also serve as an access point to the road. The idea of a four lane road from I-64 through the through town and connecting to 29N is as old as I-64 itself. The state pushed it to relieve traffic on 29N and to save money on costly, but limited, limited improvements to Rio Road (the state couldn’t care less about Park Stree. The Chamber pushed it in the hopes that more people would come back to downtown (that’s why a portion of Preston AV is now four laned) and the county was looking for a quick route to I-64 rather than piling on the 250 Bypass. Then, you didn’t have Hollymead and points further north, sizable development on Pantops, and as much growth in the urban ring. In short, the rationale explained to the public applied to conditions that existed 40 years ago and the road is already obsolete in function before it’s built. However, those people who supported the road for some reason felt they needed to continue to support the road. I guess it is an ego thing. If the city chooses not to build the road, VDOT’s concerns about spending an extraordinary amount of money correcting the dangerous turns along Rio between 29N and Melbourne would mainly be lessened because through the years that portion of the road has been fixed. It is no longer a twisty, winding road with a great many fatal accidents as in years past. If the road had been built in the seventies I doubt if very much money would have spent improving Rio.
    About ten years ago the MPO tried to get the state to say what would be the penalty for not building the W. Bypass and the Rio Rd. Bypass (parkway) and VDOT never answered. So far with the W. Bypass there doesn’t appear to be any that I can see.

  16. OK. So here we are. Traffic is backed up all over town during peak periods. SOMETHING needs to be done. How would you fix it (other than eliminating the “carbon based units” that caused it to begin with)?

  17. Maybe employees can get together and come up with a plan that would remove a lot of them from rush hour traffic. Just as some of the downtown merchants do not open until 10 AM, some or all of an employement center can have differing times for employees to work. Another way is to not go shopping directly after work since most of the clogging occurs near shopping areas. Go another time. So much can be done on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a life-style. So many people like to get all of their errands completed during the work week so that they can relax on the weekends. It used to be that the weekends were used for the errands. Just take a second to ask yourself “Do I really feel like being in traffic right now?” Because I stayed at work until 6 PM everyday doing the work that I would normally do at home, I was able to travel no more than 7 minutes to get home rather than spend 15 to twenty minutes traveling. Before people start saying that these solutions wouldn’t work for their jobs, I would say that of course these ideas wouldn’t work for everyone, if those for whom it work could join the ranks of us who do not complain about the congestion.

  18. The bypass needs to start in Madison, loop east of the city and join the interstate — and — have two or maybe three interchanges along the way

  19. We’ll be ripping up all the roads in 20 years anyway; let’s just build the rails now and be done with it.

  20. oldvarik,

    Here’s my plan for fixing 29. First of all start removing lights and building overpasses. Remove as many entrance points as possible (like that dangerous one at Best Buy right near the bypass). Instead of making 29 more and more lanes (which has never helped one bit), create an imediately adjacent Rd that people would exit to in order to access businesses etc.

    As I said before, change the model of how were are doing shopping centers in general. Take some of these existing shopping centers with massive parking lots, and add a parking garage (or underground parking), then add apartments where the pavement used to be. Build up, not out. Make it so that people park in a garage and then walk to the stores instead of driving from one side of the shopping center to the other. Frankly it’s bad business to just have all that wasted space when it could be used for something (and with greater density, there’s less need for growth to sprawl out as far).

    Build the Eastern Connector. It makes far more sense, and would create a more realistic way for people to get from 29 to 250. That said, C-ville Eye is right that many of these roads (thanks to bad planning) will be useless before they are even built. As some point the state probably will need to step in and just build an interstate that takes north south traffic off 29 altogether.

    To be fair, many of these things are actually part of the plan for 29, but we seem to be continuing to undermine these ideas before we even try to implement them. Or, we’re far too willing to settle for things like faux town centers instead of the real thing.

  21. I’m going to do something odd… I’d like to counter my own arguments. I had an interesting conversation last night with David Slutzky where he discounted the idea that the Meadowcreek Parkway would create more traffic. His logic was that the development predicted by VDOT has already occurred, and there’s not much room for more, so it can’t have the effect of increasing traffic.

    I’m still doubtful, but I can’t deny that it is a reasonable viewpoint. Even so, other reasonable and intellegent people seem to disagree with that analysis. So, I’m curious to hear from others why they think Slutzky may or may not be right on that point?

  22. Lonnie, all of the development has not happened. North Pointe? Hollymead Town Center is no where near finished. Belvidere has what three houses? What subdivision is going to be built to appeal to the NGIC newcomers? In twenty years I’m sure housing will connect Albemarle to Greene. Don’t shake up your thinking too much after that conversation.

  23. Cville Eye, I like your idea about employees going to work at different times, but regarding doing shopping on Saturday and Sunday: I find that 29 around the bypass is as clogged most of the day on Saturdays as it is during rush hour, and I often find myself (as I sit in the traffic) feeling a little sad that we’re all spending our weekends like this. And Barracks Road shopping center, which is closest to me, is about as miserable of a place to spend a Saturday as I can think of if traffic and massive crowds are not your thing. I try to do my grocery shopping around 10 p.m. if I can, and head out for other things around 8 p.m, but that’s not going to work for people with kids.

  24. Former MG employee, you can tell that I don’t shop on Saturdays. I usually shop, which isn’t often, after six PM during the week or after 10 AM and before 3 PM. But that suits me well. I don’t grocery shop on 29N, not because I don’t like the traffic, but because I don’t like standing in long lines.
    Again, Just take a second to ask yourself “Do I really feel like being in traffic right now?” Look for other alternatives and cut out shopping for just one item, make a list. If you forgot something, save gas and do without.
    It’s interesting that there’s a 24 hour workout center in Greene County that people near by can use, and people do.

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