Rivanna River pedestrian bridge not recommended for funding, Metropolitan Planning Organization not giving up

Model of pedestrian bridge crossing the Rivanna River
Model of pedestrian bridge crossing the Rivanna River(wvir)
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:36 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia Department of Transportation just released new SMART SCALE funding, but a major Charlottesville-Albemarle project did not make the cut. A pedestrian bridge that would connect Albemarle County to Charlottesville near Woolen Mills was denied because the cost estimate was “too broad”.

Now, the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (CA-MPO) is working to get preliminary engineering done to provide a more precise estimate.

“One of things we found was that if we’re going to put this bridge across the river, it’s got to have a pedestal in the middle of the river on an island. We don’t know where the bedrock is there. We don’t know how secure that would be. And so the contingencies, when you estimate the cost, the contingencies are huge,” Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook explained.

The project could cost anywhere between 16 and 42 million dollars. Now, the organization is working to come up with a more accurate price tag.

“They’re looking for some funds from a different source to be able to do that preliminary engineering work to come up with a more refined design. So we get a better cost estimate on the project, which hopefully will improve our chances of getting SMART SCALE money in the future” CA-MPO Chair Brian Pinkston said.

SMART SCALE looks at a few different criteria when evaluating a project.

“Whether the project gets approved is a function of two things. One is does it have a benefit. And the statewide project analysis shows that we’re in the top third or top quarter of projects in terms of the benefits to the community, but you also have to look at the costs. And if the costs are going to be more than double what we thought going in, it may not work,” Mayor Snook said.

If eventually funded, the bridge could help to revamp the entire area surrounding it.

“Instead of having to go all the way up to Free Bridge to get around the city, you could just take this bridge. Bikes and people could go between Woolen Mills to the opposite side of the river. It would really be, I think, transformative in so many ways,” Pinkston said.

Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.