Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Connective Corridors to Monticello

Charlottesville to Monticello & Beyond is a report I co-authored about re-connecting Charlottesville to Monticello for pedestrians and cyclists. The entry explores the core of the report: a comparison of four possible connective corridors. My deepest gratitude to my co-authors (Maura Harris, Caroline Herre, Joel Lehman, and Julie Murphy) whose ideas and language infuse this entry.

The practicum team and its advisors studied four corridors to connect Charlottesville to the Saunders-Monticello Trail based on City and County Comprehensive Plans, which are closely aligned on this subject. Although it is possible to get from source to destination using other routes, such as stream valleys, our analysis had to be finite and build upon our stakeholders’ previous consensus-building work. Our work focuses mainly on transportation corridors, while acknowledging that a truly comprehensive outcome will probably make other, more recreational connections, too.

For convenience, we named these corridors Routes A, B, C, and D.

Route A: Avon Street Corridor via PVCC

Route A follows the Avon Street corridor, crosses Interstate 64 on a proposed pedestrian bridge, passes through the woods and campus of Piedmont Virginia Community College, and crosses VA-20 at a redesigned intersection at College Drive.

Overall Advantages
  • Access to PVCC
  • Connection to low-income Charlottesville city neighborhoods and Albemarle County’s Southern
  • Neighborhood Area
  • Possibility to add parking
Overall Disadvantages
  • Much of Avon Corridor is not ready for multi-modal access
  • Crossing Interstate 64
  • Crossing VA-20
  • Steep hills along Avon Street and College Drive
  • Relatively long distance
Route B: Monticello Avenue & VA-20

Route B begins on Monticello Avenue at the Charlottesville border and follows Monticello Avenue/VA-20 south past the Interstate 64 cloverleaf to the entrance to the Saunders- Monticello Trail. The most ideal expression of this route includes facilities on both sides of the road.

Overall Advantages
  • Gentlest topography
  • Links to PVCC
  • Potential to add parking
  • Designated Bike Route 76
Overall Disadvantages
  • Adjacent to a busy road (VA-20)
  • Requires reconfiguration of I-64 interchange and crossings25
Route C: Monticello Road (Re)extended

Route C begins just north of Moore’s Creek, to the east of Monticello Avenue. It crosses Moore’s Creek on a proposed bridge, passes under I-64 through a proposed tunnel, then follows the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Hospital Site. The route then crosses VA-53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway) on a proposed bridge, connecting with the Saunders- Monticello Trail at Michie Tavern.

Overall Advantages
  • Most direct route
  • Surrounded by scenic forest environment
  • Historic continuity
Overall Disadvantages
  • Cost of tunnel (including engineering)
  • Possible land acquisition
  • Wetland/floodplain
  • Pedestrian Bridge needed at Michie Tavern
  • Access through Michie Tavern property
Route D: Historic Woolen Mills

Starts at Woolen Mills, crosses Moore’s Creek and follows the Rivanna River and the railroad corridor, passes under the existing Interstate viaduct and follows south side of highway to join the other routes.

Overall Advantages
  • Close connection to a park and the Rivanna Trail
  • Near a potential river crossing
  • Developer of new mixed-use property eager for trail and willing to contribute.
Overall Challenges
  • Parking already an issue
  • Easement required from a second landowner
  • Disused factory site in unstable condition
  • Steep land
  • Railroad easement likely needed
We recommend a phased comprehensive approach that uses elements of all routes. A wider network provides greater access, disperses users through space, reduces crowding, and creates a diversity of route options. Each route has at least one major advantage—and at least one major disadvantage. None will meet all the goals alone.

Read the full report for a detailed description (and cost estimation) for each route as well as recommendations for a phased implementation that includes both quick wins and long-term goals.

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