Charlottesville to expand pedestrian and bicycle space on Belmont Bridge

Charlottesville to expand pedestrian and bicycle space on Belmont Bridge

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Because the winter weather is, at least hopefully, over, barrels will be put up at the Belmont Bridge to expand space for pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the city’s Safe Streets Pilot Initiative.

The city says it’s not only to keep them safe from traffic but also COVID-19.

“So vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and then with a pandemic and people needing to have safe physical distancing, what we realized is that when people are walking on the sidewalk and biking it’s hard to maneuver around each other,” said Brian Wheeler, the city’s director of communications.

That’s why on Tuesday the city is bringing the traffic pattern back, closing the right lane for cars, and creating more space for pedestrians and bikers. Wheeler says this won’t alter plans for the renovation of the bridge.

“We’ve been involved in right away acquisition and, you know, getting the contractors lined up who have been on the project,” he said. “We expect them to start mobilizing in May.”

Wheeler says that the project will improve the future pedestrian and bicyclist experience, but the barrels are a positive step in the present.

“We are working really hard to make sure that we’re balancing the facilities for all users,” he said. “So this bridge includes even a pedestrian tunnel to allow people to get from one side to the other.”

Wheeler also says there’s no time estimate for when the barrels could be taken down because of construction. He also says that the city’s state of emergency will have an impact because if it is ended, there will be less of a need to distance.

According to the city, here is proper guidance for transportation on the Belmont Bridge, starting Tuesday, March 23:

  • Southbound bicycles are only permitted on the asphalt section of the path.
  • Northbound bicycles shall use the northbound vehicular travel lane.
  • The additional space in the roadway is being provided so pedestrians can safely pass with 6 feet of distance, bicycles shall yield to pedestrians on the path.
  • When passing others, please pass on the left and give an audible signal.
  • The ADA accessible route will be maintained along the existing sidewalk.

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