Charlottesville Planning Commission Approves Design for Belmont Bridge

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design graphic for Belmont Bridge design graphic for Belmont Bridge

The plans to replace the deteriorating Belmont Bridge are moving forward.

The City of Charlottesville Planning Commission has approved a design concept, and one of the big changes would mean only one lane for drivers on either side.

The City of Charlottesville Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a plan that would replace that bridge, and although the bridge looks the same, one Charlottesville City Councilor is concerned with one of the proposed changes.

"The bridge design is fairly simple...we think it’s sleek and contemporary,” Sal Musarra, project manager said.

On Tuesday, the Charlottesville Planning Commission approved a design concept for the new Belmont Bridge.

One of the biggest changes is only one lane for drivers on either side of the bridge instead of the two it currently has. This would allow for 10-foot bike and pedestrian lanes on both sides on the bridge.

"Very wide sidewalks, very wide bike lanes, they're protected bike lanes which means there’s a physical buffer between the bike lanes and the travel lanes … so it should be very safe," Musarra said.

"We have to make sure that the traffic will still flow smoothly … with my background in construction engineering, I don't think it will,” City Councilor Bob Fenwick said.

Fenwick says there’s a way to test if only one lane is a good idea by using traffic stanchions in the road.

"We can put these in the road and mimic what the design is going to do and we will know within a couple days I think. We will certainly know within a couple of months if that's a plan that’s going to work," Fenwick said.

Other changes in the design plan include taking away the cross walk at graves street that goes across the bridge.

"It's very convenient to the neighborhood and we understand that, but the safety concern is what we are really concerned about,” Musarra said.

The plan would also add stairways underneath the bridge on both sides and would add a small underground tunnel in addition to the tunnel near the Sprint Pavilion.

“It’s about a 10-foot-tall by 21-foot-wide opening, we'll make sure it’s extremely well lit, it has some design interest to it so it feel inviting comfortable and safe,” Musarra said.

Although this concept has been approved that does not mean this is the final plan. There are changes that could still come.

The plan now has to go to the Board of Architectural Review, and then needs final approval from City Council.

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