Council Chooses Belmont Bridge Replacement Option

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Plans for the future of the Belmont Bridge are coming into focus. Charlottesville City Council finally decided on one of the four options on the table.

Council voted 4 to 1 to move forward with the enhanced bridge option. This concept is a traditional highway bridge with horizontal girders supported by piers and will shorten the bridge from more than 440 feet to approximately 205 feet. The new design will have two traditional abutments at each end and two sets of piers to support the bridge in three spans.

The traditional steel girders, which flank each face of the bridge below the roadway deck, could be hidden from view by providing ornamental treatments or by wrapping them in architectural precast.

Councilors were all against the underpass option, mainly citing financial concerns, but it wasn't a unanimous decision when it came to the specific bridge design. Councilor Kathy Galvin wanted to go back to the drawing board and hire a new design team for the project.

"I'm still not convinced that this is truly a new alternative in that what the enhanced bridge does is it does put a new covering over it but that is not what I call a fully integrated design in structural problem solving,” Galvin said.

Other councilors all agreed on the enhanced option and did not want to set the project back. Councilor Kristin Szakos voiced financial concerns about delaying the project further, as there was originally about $14 million set aside by the Commonwealth Transportation Board to fund the project, but that’s already dropped by $2 million, leaving the city with just $12.1 million to fund the bridge replacement.

The enhanced bridge option is estimated at a cost of about $17.2 million.

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