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City Council Looking at Updated Belmont Bridge Project Numbers - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

City Council Looking at Updated Belmont Bridge Project Numbers

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The discussion on what to do with a crumbling Charlottesville bridge is back on the table for city council.

Monday, city staff will present updated numbers and logistics for two options to replace the Belmont Bridge. The design of a new bridge has been about three years in the making. Charlottesville city councilors are hoping to get a better look at the proposed models and pick the option that will be best for the community.

"We want it to look good.  We want it to function well. We want it to be something that people feel good about," said Charlottesville Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos.

Charlottesville city councilors say the Belmont Bridge is supposed to connect people to the historical downtown mall. But as time has taken its toll, the structure has become more of a barrier.

"It's crumbling, it's showing its age, it was not built to last," said Charlottesville City Councilor Dave Norris. "A lot of people feel like the bridge particularly given its size and length is sort of an obstacle or barrier between downtown and Belmont."

"It's like a wall and so we want to make sure we open up that space that we can invite people downtown rather than keep them away," Szakos said.

Monday night, council will get more details to help them answer the question of whether to completely replace the bridge with a new one or building it as an underpass.

"The initial impulse was just to replace the bridge. I think a lot of people in Charlottesville said wait, the bridge that's there is not very attractive. Why do we want to do something like that? And can we do something that's a little more of an entrance to a city," Szakos said.

But the projected costs may make the underpass design a less feasible option. The bridge replacement's price tag is currently at about $14.9 million, while the underpass may cost almost double that at $26.3 million.

"Whatever we do, we want to make sure that it's going to come in at a decent price and that is going to be a long-standing replacement so we don't have to have this discussion 30 years from now," Norris said.

The original budget for the Belmont Bridge project was $14.5 million. Costs for the bridge will be covered by state and federal funds through the VDOT six-year plan for 2016.

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