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City Council To Vote on Bridging the Gap at McIntire Park - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

City Council To Vote on Bridging the Gap at McIntire Park

Posted: Updated: Sep 18, 2011 07:41 PM EDT

Plans for a new pedestrian bridge inside Charlottesville's McIntire Park were released Sunday. Currently, train tracks cut the park in half, making it almost impossible for someone to walk from one side to the other.

Generations of families in Charlottesville have spent time in McIntire Park.

"We've played baseball when we were young here, we go to fireworks here. My grandson is now playing here," said Carolyn Graves.

But Graves has only been to the west side of it.

"Never, never been to the other side of the park at all, ever," she said.

The McIntire Park Golf Course covers the land east of the train tracks, which essentially separates two parks with the same name.

"What you'd have to do is come up on the bypass and walk along 250 and then go down again as you get to the other side," explained Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos.

And city council is looking to change that. "This is a way of sort of reuniting the two halves of that part of the park," added Szakos.

Monday night, council is expected to vote to accept more than $400,000 in funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation to build a pedestrian bridge across those train tracks, reconnecting both parts of McIntire Park.

"The park is a priority. We really wanted to make sure that people are able to use the park, that it isn't just sort of green space set aside where nobody can actually be there," said Szakos.

The city will have to match 20 percent of that money, or just more than $100,000 - funding that is already in the budget.

Then council will need to consider the bridge's design and hold a series of public meetings. Eventually that path will connect to another planned walking trail to be built along the city's portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway.

"We want kids to have access to it, we want families to be in the park," she said.

Council's vote Monday night is simply to say, yes, the city wants VDOT's money for the bridge. That will get the ball rolling when it comes to a timeline for public hearings and construction.

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