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Cville Council: Public Input Needed Before Bridge Decision - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Cville Council: Public Input Needed Before Bridge Decision

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Plans to replace the Belmont Bridge were on Charlottesville City Council's agenda as simply a report but that didn't stop things from getting testy.

Some councilors wanted to go ahead and vote on a specific design plan and others wanted all options to stay on the table. Council ultimately agreed to allow for more public input before any decision is made.

The crumbling bridge that connects people from Belmont to the downtown mall needs to be fixed. Council was presented with two options: replacing the bridge, which comes with a price tag of about $15 million, or building it as an underpass, which would cost about $26 million.

Council agreed that the community needs to have a chance to weigh in and give suggestions about what an ideal bridge would look like, but some are already making it clear about how they feel.

One man who lives in Charlottesville said, "I think the underpass is a planning nightmare waiting to happen. It's a financial nightmare for the city and it's a civil engineering nonstarter. I could be convinced otherwise but I haven't heard that evidence yet."

"I'm really urging council to consider an enhanced bridge option and I don't think it's too late to go down that course and we might end up with something in between the two that leaves us better than we have been," said Tim Freilich, who also lives in Charlottesville.

Costs of the bridge will be covered by state and federal funds through the VDOT six-year plan for 2016.

City staff will now work on setting up meetings to get more community input about how people would like the bridge to look.

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