THE SQUEAKY WHEEL- Walk block: You can't get there from here
The Problem: Charlottesville is a walkable community, but barriers to safe and convenient pedestrian movement abound. One obvious barrier is the green plywood barricade in front of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courthouse renovation project on East High Street.
The barricade was erected in February 2006 to protect pedestrians, but a March 30 brick wall collapse halted the project indefinitely. The sidewalk on the opposite side of East High Street is where prisoner transfers to and from the county courthouse occur on a regular basis. Albemarle County Sheriff Ed Robb’s current safety policy is to ask pedestrians not to use that sidewalk during prisoner transfers– effectively closing the entire block to pedestrians. When will this be a safe pedestrian way again?
I suggested to city council in September 2006 that the sidewalk be opened again until courthouse construction work resumed. But the pre-existing sidewalk had already been demolished, and the city and county were reluctant to do a temporary fix while the courthouse project’s future was being considered. I contacted Mike Mollica, Charlottesville’s capital projects coordinator, in November 2006, and learned that the city and county had just reached a new reconstruction plan and work is now resuming.
A protected prisoner transfer location not requiring sidewalk closings is now scheduled for construction by the county in response to frequent requests by Sheriff Robb. Pedestrian safety may also be given greater consideration in future projects that require sidewalk closings if we pedestrians demand it.
Walking on East High Street will remain challenging through June 2008 at least. Traffic is often heavy on that block, so spend the extra time necessary to walk through Court Square or the county courthouse grounds until safe sidewalks are again available.
What have you seen that needs fixing? Email the Squeaky Wheel at the address above.
PHOTO BY THE AUTHOR