Apparently Ken Boyd is not the only one who wants the Meadowcreek Parkway opened posthaste.
Across Melbourne Road from the county parkway portion, construction has begun on the city's McIntire Extended.
PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE
Albemarle Supervisor Ken Boyd wants the Meadowcreek Parkway open, and he wants it open now– or at least by December 8.
Boyd introduced a resolution to the Board of Supervisors at its November 2 meeting to open Albemarle's portion of the parkway, which has been completed for over a year and was temporarily opened for six weeks in October 2010. The board held off on a vote until Virginia Department of Transportation traffic studies were complete. Now Boyd plans to bring the resolution back at the December 7 supes' meeting.
"VDOT says it can open it the next day if the resolution is passed by the board," says Boyd. "The road has been certified, and it needs to be used, or it will deteriorate."
"The road is ready for traffic," says VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter– although he's not able to confirm that VDOT can open the road within 24 hours of a county request. Signals have to be turned on. "I'm not sure how fast signal work can be done," says Hatter.
Also, says Hatter, VDOT would like for both the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council to request the opening.
That's not quite the understanding Boyd has, and he disputes the notion of any formal agreement between city and county that the parkway wouldn't open until its three separate segments– the county's already-finished Meadowcreek Parkway, the barely begun McIntire Road Extended, and the completely uncommenced grade-separated Meadowcreek Parkway Interchange– were all complete.
"I've asked the city to produce that," says Boyd. "There's no document in writing. The City Council passed a resolution, and that's not binding on the county."
Boyd characterizes any deal as more of a "gentleman's agreement" to coordinate if those dates fall within six months of each other.
"They're 18 months away," says Boyd of the city's portion of the parkway.
Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris disagrees with the notion that there's no formal agreement on a simultaneous opening, and he points to a condition in the permanent easement the Charlottesville School Board granted to VDOT for a slice of land near Charlottesville High.
"It's part of the deed," says Norris. "I don't see how the county or VDOT or the city can open legally without going back to the the School Board resolution."
But according to City Attorney Craig Brown, "The deed of easement doesn't say that." The only entity that agreed to the city's demand for a simultaneous opening, says Brown, was VDOT.
Even City Council doesn't appear to be taking the alleged three-part synchrony too seriously. Council's December 5 agenda has a resolution to open the parkway, and Norris expects a majority of councilors to okay it, although he will not be part of that majority.
The resolution lists conditions VDOT must perform, such a 25mph speed limit near Melbourne Road on one end and CATEC on the other, turning over the maintenance of the Melbourne Road traffic signal to the city, and five other demands, including improving a turn radius at Park/Rio and Melbourne, and lengthening turn lanes at other intersections– work that may take more than 24 hours to perform.
Norris suspects that the city's conditions will not slow Albemarle's parkway-opening zeal, particularly given the discontent and backed up traffic coming from the Dunlora subdivision because of the unopened road.
"There's a lot of influence there," observes Norris. "I suspect at the end of the day, the county will say, 'Thank you for your suggestions'– and the opening will happen anyway."