Belmont Bridge a journey or a destination?
[Re: April 12 cover story: "Belmont vortex: Vision vs. reality in Belmont Bridge debate"], three big questions to mix it up at your next backyard BBQ:
1. The historical debate: "Is the Belmont Bridge replacement design a step forward or a step back?" Historians have articulated that the current bridge was, like the Vinegar Hill razing, a product of biased urban planning and Eisenhower-era highway hysteria. It cut off Downtown from the surrounding neighborhoods– geographically, socially, and economically. Do we want to repeat that mistake for simplicity's sake? Or do we care enough to rethink that critical junction from the ground up– and maybe even below. How would we do it now if we could do it over? (And, we can.)
2. The metaphysical riddle: "Are we designing for a journey or a destination?" True, we could spend $14.5 million on a utilitarian slab of road. Or, we could create an enduring piece of Charlottesville culture– an arts district, a central park, a permanent farmer's market (add your dream here). Infrastructure is about opportunity. The Rotunda is more than a classroom. The Downtown Mall is more than a mall. That's how we do it in Charlottesville, right? Rethinking the Belmont Vortex should take us somewhere far greater than the mere distance from Levy to Market Street.
3. The political hot potato: "Who is the priority in the bridge replacement project?" VDOT? CSX? The nTelos Wireless Pavillion? Or, Charlottesville's citizens? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the city bureaucracy took a stand on this issue. What ideals would they work, debate, and– dare we say– fight for? Those of expediency, protocol, and (quite frankly) mediocrity? Or those that challenge the status quo in favor of creativity, community, and an ambitious civic legacy. After our city's recent series of arguably lopsided negotiations (bypass, parkway, and dam), I'd like to see the interests of Charlottesville's citizens end up on top... especially on our own turf.