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13 area transportation projects recommended for Smart Scale funding

Almost all of the transportation projects in Albemarle County and Charlottesville that were submitted to the state’s Smart Scale program have been recommended for funding.

The scores from the fourth round of the funding prioritization process and the staff-recommended funding scenario were presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board at its meeting earlier this week.

The Culpeper District, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle, would receive about $114.3 million in funding.

“I think [the district] did a very good job of having targeted improvements that are addressing safety and congestion hotspots throughout the district,” said Chad Tucker, Smart Scale program manager.

The city, county, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization may each submit a maximum of four applications. This year, they submitted a total of 15 projects and 13 of those were recommended for funding.

“This year is a really positive thing and everybody at the county is really excited about it,” said Kevin McDermott, chief of planning for Albemarle. “It looks like it could turn out to be our most successful Smart Scale round yet.”

Albemarle-submitted projects recommended for funding are to close the open median on the U.S. 250 corridor from People Place to Hanson Road; a roundabout at the intersection of Routes 20 and 53; a roundabout at the intersection of Old Lynchburg Road and Fifth Street Extended; and a roundabout at Rio Road and the John W. Warner Parkway.

Projects submitted by Charlottesville and recommended for funding are the third phase of the West Main Streetscape project; improvements at the intersection of Preston and Grady avenues; the second phase of streetscape improvements along Emmet Street; and multimodal transportation improvements on Ridge Street between Cherry Avenue and West Main.

Improvements at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road and interchange improvements at Fontaine Avenue and the U.S. 29 Bypass were projects submitted by the MPO and recommended for funding.

The TJPDC-submitted projects recommended for funding are a shared-use path on U.S. 29 from Carrsbrook Drive to Riverside Center; a park-and-ride lot at Exit 107 off Interstate 64; and a trail hub and trails at Fifth Street.

Roundabouts at Troy Road and U.S. 250 in Fluvanna County and Route 631 and High Street in Orange County also were recommended for funding in the district.

Area projects that were not recommended for funding are a restricted crossing U-turn at the intersection of Frays Mill Road, Burnley Station Road and U.S. 29 and a project to extend Hillsdale Drive south and connect it to U.S 250 westbound.

A project to build a shared-use path in the median of Route 20 was not supported by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

A multi-district project that would increase rail capacity along the U.S. 29 Norfolk Southern corridor also was recommended for funding.

Smart Scale is the current primary method for funding large-scale transportation projects in Virginia and provides state and federal funds for the design/engineering, right-of-way and construction of transportation projects.

In the first round of Smart Scale in 2016, approximately $1.4 billion in funding was available, and in the second round in 2017, approximately $1 billion in funding was available. In the third round, $779 million was available.

This round, $1.37 billion was available, and 397 projects were scored. Approximately $6.3 billion in funding was requested.

The Culpeper District received $26.9 million in district grant program funding and $87.4 million in supplemental district grant funding, while six projects were recommended with $43.8 million in additional high-priority program funding.

“In many districts that don’t have regional funding authority, there is a sizable increase in the amount of money that’s going into the district grant pots,” Tucker said.

“Bristol is seeing an additional $44.6 million, Culpeper an additional $87.4 million, Lynchburg and Salem both have their pots more than double as a result of the supplemental funding that has come through the General Assembly’s recent legislation. So that’s providing an additional $392.8 million in district grant funding across the board to eight of the nine districts.”

Many of the local projects recommended for funding will have project costs covered by additional state funding, such as the U.S. 29-Hydraulic Road project, and others have local money dedicated to them.

“I think contributing additional local money was a successful strategy for us,” McDermott said. “It just kind of shows that we do have a lot of high needs in our area because of the ongoing growth that we see happening, and I think that actually helped us secure additional money.”

There will be hearings for each VDOT district at which the public can comment on the staff-recommended scenarios and any potential revisions.

The CTB will decide on the final projects to be funded by June.


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