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City Council prepares to allocate $15.3M for Belmont Bridge replacement

Seventeen years after deciding to replace it, Charlottesville is inching ever closer to a new Belmont Bridge.

The City Council will conduct a first reading of a $15.3 million allocation for the project during its meeting Monday. An actual vote on the allocation would come at a future meeting.

The bridge carries Avon Street over the Buckingham Branch Railroad line. It was built in 1961 and sees about 14,000 vehicle trips a day, according to Virginia Department of Transportation estimates. The city decided to replace it in 2003.

In August 2019, the city’s Board of Architectural Review approved a certificate of appropriateness for the project, which has an estimated cost of $31 million.

Overall, the city will spend $13 million on the bridge. The project will be supported by $14.8 million in state funding and $3.2 million in federal money.

The $15.3 million under consideration Monday is composed of $12.1 million in state funding and $3.2 million in federal money.

The city has been acquiring right-of-way for about a year and plans to seek construction bids in the fall.

The new bridge will feature a staircase along the southwest edge, pedestrian lighting features, benches and bike racks. It will have access points from Water Street and a sidewalk underneath it.

A conceptual design includes a 7-foot-wide bicycle lane and a 10-foot-wide sidewalk. The bike lane and sidewalk will be separated from vehicles by a median.

The project has languished in a series of snags for about six years.

Initial designs were met with public opposition, and the original consultants in charge of the process, MMM Design, went out of business in 2014.

In 2017, Kimley-Horn took over the project and the City Council approved a design in October of that year.

The city expects construction to start next year and finish by 2023.

For more information on the project, visit belmontbridge.org.

BLM Avenue

Also on Monday, the council is expected to vote on an honorary street name downtown to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement.

Localities across the country are taking measures to elevate Black history in the months following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

The City Council supported a request to designate Seventh Street Northeast between Market and Jefferson streets as Black Lives Matter Avenue.

Neighborhood Development Services estimated that implementing the designation would cost $748.60.

Flint Hill

Also on Monday, the council is expected to take final votes on a rezoning request, critical-slopes waiver and right-of-way realignment for a townhouse development near the 5th St. Station shopping center.

Belmont Station LLC, which is owned by developer Charlie Armstrong, wants to rezone about 10 acres from residential to planned development for the Flint Hill project.

The property is off Flint Drive behind the Food Lion on Fifth Street Southwest.

The proposal features 37 single-family homes and two eight-unit condominium buildings. It has a maximum density of 60 units, or six units per acre. Armstrong has offered that 15% of the units will be affordable for 30 years at 25% to 60% of area median income.

Relief money

The council also will consider resolutions to allocate more than $300,000 in federal coronavirus relief money.

The city received $246,699 in March through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program

The council created three categories to distribute the money: public services, economic development and administration/planning.

Under the recommendations, the Community Investment Collaborative will receive the $98,679 allocated for the economic development category. According to a staff report, the money will be used for 24 grants that provide technical support to micro-enterprises. The grants will help businesses cover expenses and adapt to the changing economic environment caused by the pandemic.

The public service program funding will be split between the Thomas Jefferson Health District and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless.

The health district would receive $49,661 for outreach, testing and linking to care related to the virus. The homeless coalition will use the remaining $49,017 to provide rental and utility assistance to 25 households making less than 30% of the area median income.

The final $49,339 will be used to cover administration and planning related to the selected projects.

The Registrar’s Office is set to receive $64,229 in separate relief funding to cover extra costs associated with printing and mailing ballots for the November election.

The City Council meets virtually at 6:30 p.m. Monday. To register to participate, visit charlottesville.gov/zoom.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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