CONCEPTUAL PLAN DEVELOPED
As a result of the May 8, 2007 Citizens Information Meeting and continued coordination with the Project Steering Committee and area Stakeholders, the Design Team began engineering and designing the Hillsdale Drive Extension Project. In addition to the detailed engineering plans, a series of Conceptual Plan Sketches were prepared throughout the corridor which graphically depicts the elements in the engineering plans.
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THE FINAL DESIGN PROCESS
This project is a high priority of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County because it is seen as an important link to commercial areas and an alternative to the congested Route 29 Corridor for local, multi-modal traffic.
On March 8, 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the approved alignment which meant the design of the alternative could begin. The Hillsdale Drive Extension will begin on existing Hillsdale Drive north of its present intersection with Greenbrier Drive and continue south between the Pepsi Plant and the Post Office, through the Seminole Square Shopping Center, and will tie into Hydraulic Road between Virginia Dominion Power and the Kroger Store.
Several steps have taken place to reach the Design Public Hearing, right-of-way acquisition stage, and ultimately, the construction of the Hillsdale Drive Extension. Supplemental survey information was secured to begin the preliminary roadway design. Additional traffic analysis was developed and evaluated to establish requirements related to signage, signals and lighting. Conceptual design plans were developed to establish the footprint of the major design elements and to identify and minimize right-of-way impacts. These conceptual plans were developed with input from the City, Steering Committee, and key stakeholders, and presented to the public at a Citizen Information Meeting.
Following the Citizen Information Meeting, more detailed design plans were developed with continued direction and guidance from the City and Steering Committee. These plans have been developed to a point where the preferred major design features have been established and right-of-way impacts can be fully identified. The Design Public Hearing has been scheduled for November 16, 2010 to share these plans with the public. This provides another opportunity for the public to review the plans and provide meaningful input at this critical stage of plan development.
All of the comments received at the Design Public Hearing will be considered and once the plans have been revised based on the hearing comments, the City will request Design Approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the project will move forward to the right-of-way acquisition stage. During this stage, Final Design Plans will be developed, the necessary environmental permits will be acquired and utility agreements will be initiated with the utility companies impacted by construction. Once all environmental permits are acquired and all right-of-way acquisitions and utility relocations are completed, plans will be submitted to VDOT for final approval before advertisement for construction.
The current state of transportation funding continues to be a challenge and is an important factor when determining the construction schedule. Due to the weak economic climate and falling revenue projections, the state’s transportation program has taken yet another hit. Priority has been placed on maintenance to preserve the current infrastructure and to complete funding on existing construction projects. As a result, funding for Hillsdale Drive Extension’s right of way and construction phases has been pushed back to sometime after 2016 in the Six Year Improvement Program. Staff continues to explore additional funding opportunities/grant programs which could accelerate the timeline for construction of the project. The City will hold citizen information meetings before the construction begins to disseminate information and respond to citizens' concerns.