Charlottesville leaders are considering new developments on two important bridges: the Belmont Bridge and McIntire Bridge. The Charlottesville PLACE Design Task Force spent Thursday at City Hall looking at bridges, with a focus on pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
On the Belmont Bridge, two new concepts incorporated public feedback.
“Bikes and pedestrians need to feel very safe crossing that bridge as the motorists that cross,” said City Council member Kathy Galvin.
“We heard they wanted a shorter bridge. Keep it to two lanes. Bike and pedestrian access are the primary themes,” said Jim Tolbert, director of neighborhood development services for the city of Charlottesville.
Both new designs shorten the span of the bridge from about 400 to 200 feet. The plans reduce four lanes of traffic to two and envision wider sidewalks and bike paths. But many people want something more.
“Something that is iconic for Charlottesville,” Tolbert said.
That might be a steel arch inspired by the mountains.
“If you look at the skyline, the Blue Ridge Mountains, you begin to pick up that feel, that movement, the flow of the mountains and we carried it through on the bridge,” said Wylie R. Cooke Jr., architect with the MMM Design Group.
“The more we talk about it, the more we look at pictures together, the more we might get a consensus of what beautiful means,” Galvin said.
Neither design for the Belmont Bridge allows for parking underneath it.
The second bridge - the McIntire Bridge - will join two sides of McIntire Park for the first time in history. That design drawing also incorporated public comments.
“Someone who wants to go to the park can drop them off on one side of the bridge safely away from the 250 Bypass into the skate park or the botanical garden,” said Chris Gensic, Charlottesville parks planner.
Finishing touches to the McIntire Bridge will be made by the same firm that designed the east side of the park.
The architect says the price tag for each concept is roughly the same amount as the original: $15 million.