June 21-July 12, 2002
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U.Va. offers to share traffic costs

By Matt Kelly

The University has offered to share the costs of synchronizing traffic lights at seven intersections and extend an existing traffic lane on Ivy Road as part of its proposed Emmet Street parking garage project.

In two separate letters sent June 14 to Charlottesville Mayor J. Blake Caravati, Leonard Sandridge, U.Va.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, suggested synchronizing traffic signals at seven intersections. Sandridge offered to pay for signals at four of the intersections, at $25,000 each, plus install a $25,000 transponder to connect them. This would leave the city to install signals at three intersections, at a cost of $75,000.

The intersections Sandridge suggested synchronizing are Ivy Road/Emmet Street, Ivy Road/Copeley Road/Alderman Road, Ivy Road at St. Anne’s-Belfield and Old Ivy Road, Rugby Road/McCormick Road/University Avenue, Emmet Street/Massie Road, Emmet Street/Arlington Boulevard and Emmet Street/entrance to Barracks Road Shopping Center.

A recent traffic study of the area indicated that synchronized traffic lights would reduce delays at the Ivy-Emmet intersection, which are a major concern for garage critics living in the adjacent Lewis Mountain neighborhood. They fear that delays there would increase traffic on their residential streets.

In a separate letter to Caravati, Sandridge committed the University to extending an existing westbound traffic lane on Ivy Road 300 feet toward the Emmet Street intersection, linking it to the proposed garage. Sandridge estimated the cost of the extension to be about $300,000.

The lane extension would make it possible for vehicles leaving the garage to make an uninterrupted right-hand turn.

Sandridge’s letters came a day after University President John T. Casteen III responded to a letter from Caravati in which the mayor complained that the city should have been involved earlier in the planning process and requested that the University submit the garage proposal to a rezoning and site plan review process.

Casteen said the city had ample opportunity to examine the garage project, first presented to city planners on Feb. 15, 2001. He said University officials have worked with city staff on the project since then, and that no city official raised objections to the garage for more than 13 months as it went through both the General Assembly and University Board of Visitors approval process. Casteen also outlined the steady stream of communications between the city and the University on the garage since February 2001.

“A proposal to submit this matter to local regulatory review is simply inappropriate and ill-timed,” Casteen wrote in his letter, adding that state law does not provide for localities to pass judgment on state agency projects, which are subject to state review and regulation.

In his letter, Caravati questioned how closely the University abided by an agreement between U.Va., the city and Albemarle County. Casteen said the University had stayed well within the agreement, including paying taxes on the land for the past 13 years, which it did not have to do since it was not an investment property.

Ben Ford (left) and Michael F. Barber
Archaeologist Ben Ford (left) and field director Michael F. Barber meticulously scrape layers of soil from a grave shaft at the proposed site of the Emmet Street parking garage.

Meanwhile, at the property …

On June 14, archaeologist Ben Ford and Michael Barber, his field director, performed a detailed excavation of a suspected 19th-century grave shaft at the proposed garage site and found remnants of a coffin. University officials will decide what steps to take after receiving Ford’s report and consulting with the state’s Department of Historic Resources.

“We plan to work through the proper channels in assessing all of our options,” Sandridge said.

Ford found five nails and a U-shaped piece of decorative coffin handle with wooden fragments attached.


© Copyright 2002 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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