Commonwealth Drive sidewalk project scaled back to move forward | local government

A sidewalk project along portions of Commonwealth and Dominion driveways in Albemarle County will be scaled back to meet funding constraints and to avoid potential negative impacts on residents.

The project total is $3.3 million, half of which came from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 2018 revenue-sharing program and the other half from Albemarle. But due to issues discovered during preliminary engineering and design work, the project will not result in full sidewalks on both sides of either road.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, at their meeting on Wednesday, supported the lack of sidewalk additions along Commonwealth Drive between Westfield Road and Dominion Drive as part of the scheme.

“We are only in the conceptual design phase,” said Lance Stewart, director of the county’s Department of Facilities and Environmental Services. “There are still audiences and more design opportunities to refine and work with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] about what would be allowed to them.

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Public engagement for the project will begin in the winter.

The section between Westfield Road and Dominion Drive was removed as it would either require leveling the already steep front yards along the east side of Commonwealth Drive or lose approximately 30 unmarked parallel street parking spaces.

“Kimley-Horn’s opinion is that the public will not receive this very favorably,” said Brian McPeters of Kimley-Horn and Associates, the company working on the project.

Supervisors have requested that a bus stop near the intersection of Commonwealth Drive and Four Seasons Drive, which is just a pole in the front yard of a house, be improved.

At least one side of Dominion Drive will have a sidewalk, but which side is yet to be decided.

The project will add shelters to at least three bus stops on Commonwealth Drive. It will also add a sidewalk along the south side of Commonwealth Drive from Hydraulic Road to the first bus stop, where a shelter will be added.

Some council members wanted the sidewalk to extend as far as possible in front of the duplexes that line the road. There is currently a sidewalk along the front of the duplexes, but it is on private property.

Supervisor Diantha McKeel wanted to add a publicly maintained one into the existing right-of-way, but McPeters said that would require working with each individual owner.

McKeel said it was “a missed opportunity for fairness in a community that needs help.”

“What we’re really doing on this side is pushing everyone to the curb on private property, which isn’t very well maintained,” she said.

Deputy County Executive Trevor Henry said county staff and consultants spent several years studying the sidewalk project.

“This is an area that needs continued attention,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is move this project forward in an executable way that brings some improvement. This may not be the ultimate vision of what we want to do here.