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MPO signs off on county road designations

Future projects along four roads in Albemarle County are another step closer to again being regulated by county design guidelines.

On Wednesday, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to approve a request to change the functional classification from major collector to minor arterial for portions of Avon Street Extended, Barracks Road from the city of Charlottesville limits to Georgetown Road, Route 53 and U.S. 250 from Route 22 to the county line.

If ultimately approved by the Federal Highway Administration, Albemarle can again require developers to apply and go before the county’s Architectural Review Board, which regulates the design of development along county entrance corridors.

“We looked at all those roads that were … classified as collectors that were also entrance corridors, and not all of them, but a lot of them appeared to us to be operating as arterials, minor arterials,” said Kevin McDermott, an Albemarle planning manager.

In 2018, Albemarle staff realized that eight of the county’s 21 entrance corridor roads did not meet state code requirements. At that time the county stopped applying the entrance corridor regulations to those streets or segments of streets.

Under state code, an entrance corridor has to meet two criteria: it must be designated or classified as an arterial street or arterial highway by Virginia Department of Transportation, and it has to be a significant route of tourist access to the locality or to designated historic landmarks.

Last month, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors supported county staff’s recommendation that the county attempt to designate four of the roads under the state’s arterial status and consider making the rest county scenic highways, which would mean they all are eligible to be classified as entrance corridors.

MPO policy board member and City Councilor Lloyd Snook asked about the “practical effects” of the changes.

McDermott said there is additional funding for roads that are classified higher. They can be regulated under the county’s entrance corridor guidelines and different safety considerations can be used to evaluate things like access management on the roads.

Next, the request will go to the VDOT district planner, and if approved it would then go to the VDOT Transportation and Mobility Planning Division’s Functional Classification Committee before going to the Federal Highway Administration.


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