A Letter to Protect Crozet Trails

received via email:

The Crozet Trails Crew is asking for support on an issue that affects our trails in Crozet. They are seeking signatories on a letter to insure that construction of the new Eastern Avenue does not interfere with the Crozet Connector Trail. As you may know, Albemarle County staff are currently reviewing plans for construction of the new Eastern Avenue, which will connect Foothill Crossing to Westhall and West Lake. We are particularly concerned about the elevation of Eastern Ave. over the existing Crozet Connector Trail and the adjacent stream. The new road will pass about 20 feet over the trail, and will require a large land fill that will block the greenway. A culvert will be placed at the bottom of the fill for passage of the stream.
Dan Mahon, Albemarle County Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, has proposed that a second culvert be placed at the bottom of the fill next to the stream to permit passage of the trail through the fill. An alternative proposal is to move the Crozet Connector Trail to climb the bank and cross Eastern Avenue at grade.
Below is a letter that The Crozet Trails Crew plans to send to Rachel Falkenstein, Senior Planner at the Albemarle County Planning Office, our supervisor Ann Mallek and others. We are inviting members of the community add their names to this letter. If you are in agreement, please send an email to: cloverc@crozettrailscrew.org indicating how you would like your name to appear and the neighborhood or subdivision where you reside

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To: Rachel Falkenstein, Senior Planner, Planning Division
Albemarle Co. Department of Community Development

Cc: Ann Mallek, White Hall District Rep., Albemarle Co. Board of Supervisors
Dave Stoner, Crozet Community Advisory Council
Dan Mahon, Albemarle Co. Outdoor Recreation Supervisor

The Crozet residents whose names are listed below urge the County Planning office to require that the Eastern Avenue Road extension between Westhall and Foothill Crossing include a culvert for the Crozet Connector Trail in addition to the culvert for the creek. The trail culvert should be of sufficient height for pedestrians and cyclists to pass through. The rationale for this request is to allow access along the greenway without requiring users to climb to the elevation of the proposed road.

This popular trail is currently used by the public for running, biking, and walking by both adults and children. A disruption in the continuity of the trail experience would have a negative impact on the enjoyment and recreational benefit of this Crozet amenity, not to mention the safety aspect of requiring the public to cross what may prove to be a well-used road. There is also a concern that the use of a ramp to connect the current trail grade to the road grade above will not be universally accessible and will therefore exclude a significant group of potential users.

The Connector Trail is consistent with The Crozet Master Plan which promotes connected neighborhoods and walkability. It is also a community asset that is being promoted by developers in their advertising. Feedback from the public tells us there is significant support for our request.

Respectfully submitted.

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6 Replies to “A Letter to Protect Crozet Trails”

  1. Can a map of this area be provided? I know Foothill Crossing from the VA240 end but have no idea where this Eastern Ave is or where it will connect. It sounds as if what is needed is a bridge, not an earth fill with two culverts. A culvert to accommodate walkers and cyclists would be 8 feet in diameter, right? That is a big pipe!

  2. Eastern Avenue will eventually connect Rt. 240 and US250. The current section under construction sits between Westhall and Westlake subdivisons. If you drive out Park Road past Claudius Crozet Park you will come to the WesthallSubdivision. Make a left onto Summerdean Rd. At the end of Summerdean go right onto Jonna. You will see Eastern Avenue. If you look to the left on Eastern, you will see the deep ravine with the trail and stream, where the fill is planned to allow eastern to continue over the ravine.

    It appears that bridge here would be too expensive.
    Yes the culvert will have to be large. At least 8 feet high.

  3. Phil, I have worked beside you for years on the Crozet Park BOD and respect your opinion very much. Respectfully, your request in this open letter is a really bad idea for both Crozet Trails and the Crozet Community. I am an active Resident and Developer of Downtown Crozet and am working hard to shape the future of our community. The construction of this section of the Eastern Connector has nothing to do with me or my company and is being planned and built by one of my colleagues in the Development Community. What you are requesting is a tunnel to be built underneath an earthen bridge. Your proposal contemplates a dark tunnel that will extend more than 80′ in length underneath the Eastern Connector. Nothing good can or will come of creating a long and dark tunnel in the middle of our great trail system – the reality is that is will become a scary stretch on the trail. The alternative and current proposal for the trail system is a gentle grade to the West of the trails current location – gently climbing to the 240 connector elevation – crossing the 240 connector – and then gently traversing back down to the existing trail to the other side of the road. Is there change to the trail? Sure. Is the change significant to the trail system or something that will be an aggravation to any of the users? Absolutely not. Before there is a concerted effort to request and build a long tunnel, I recommend that our active community volunteers seek the guidance and experience of Anne Mallek and Colonel Sellers and determine whether an 80′ tunnel is in the best interest of community safety. What I think you will find is that the expense for the tunnel could be better used in improving the Crozet Trail system in other ways – possibly pavement that will improve handicap accessibility? I am sure that the community can get together and determine a better use of funds but I am nearly positive that the tunnel is not in our best interest.

  4. Drew- which developer is responsible for the Eastern Avenue Connector? What is the timeline for the connection between Westlake and Foothill? How about a timeline for the connection to extend out to 240?
    As a resident of Foothill, there are many concerns about the traffic implications of the connector if the extension to 240 isn’t completed at the same time. Park Ridge Dr will become a heavily used “bypass” for Crozet residents who want to cut through town.

  5. Drew,
    Thank you for your comments on the letter we presented on the new Eastern Avenue intersection with the Connector Trail. I was very disappointed in your strongly held disapproval of our ideas. I have grown to admire you as we have worked together for the benefit of the Crozet Park and the community, and respect your opinion. I appreciate the many ways you have contributed to the community. You raise some important points, most of which we have considered, and some of which I agree, but I disagree strongly with your conclusions. I am sure the county staff will consider those issues when they revue the resubmission of the proposal for the intersection.

    Our main concern is the safety of the families who use the path who would have to walk across Eastern Avenue. Our second concern is the ability to provide a viable extension of the trail to climb up to Eastern Avenue. I fear for their safety of those who will have to cross this road, which will become a major thoroughfare following the construction of a bridge over the railroad tracks and another over Lickinghole Creek. It will not only serve those who live in adjacent neighborhoods, but will provide a shortcut to get from Three Notched Road to US 250, without having to pass through the bottleneck at the railroad underpass at the corner of Three Notched Road and Crozet Avenue.

    Starting in February, when we saw evidence that Eastern Avenue would pass over the stream and connector trail at such a great height, we engaged in extensive correspondence and conversation with a variety of knowledgeable individuals, including various members of Albemarle County staff, to express our concern over the impact of Eastern Avenue on the connector trail. We would have preferred a structural bridge, which would have a minimal impact on the greenspace. However, County staff revealed that a bridge would be far too expensive, and the plan was to fill in the gap and divert the trail to intersect Eastern Avenue at grade.

    The nature of the intersection of Eastern Avenue with the trail was discussed at the March 16 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, (CCAC). All of the representatives of Riverbend Management, the developer who is responsible for constructing the intersection, appeared to like the idea of an underpass, and indicated an interest and intent in exploring a way to accomplish it.

    In a letter to Riverbend Management, dated April 1, containing the County staff review of their rezoning proposal for the extension of Foothills Crossing, Dan Mahon, the Outdoor Recreation Supervisor for the County Park Department, proposed that the grade crossing of Eastern Avenue with the Crozet Connector Trail be replaced with bike/pedestrian access provided under Eastern Avenue.

    At the CCAC meeting April 20, a representative of Riverbend Management, reiterated that they approved the idea and were working on it.

    We are not at all opposed to further development in Crozet, as long as it is done in a way to minimize the impact on the narrow stands of natural forest sandwiched between neighboring subdivisions. We are also very concerned that one of the costs of such development can be the destruction and desecration of our diminishing natural areas.

    I would be happy to debate this issue with you and others in person, but I prefer not to do so in this public forum.

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