Trying to maintain 250 as a scenic byway

From part four of Charlottesville Tomorrow’s excellent series on traffic

Scenic 250 formed as a grassroots organization in 1997 to protect the rural character of the highway. According to steering committee member Scott Peyton, it was a coincidence that the Virginia Department of Transportation launched a pivotal study of 250 that same year.

“It was a watershed moment,” Peyton said. “We had been previously unaware of VDOT’s plans to widen the road.”

VDOT’s final report in January 2000 recommended the widening of 250 west to four lanes between the US 29/250 Bypass near the Bellair neighborhood all the way to the railroad trestle crossing the Mechums River.

Scenic 250 vigorously opposed the road’s widening, a recommendation that VDOT made over the objections of the citizen committee participating in the study. The public argued that it made no sense to widen 250 when it ran parallel to the existing I-64.

With the strong support of Supervisor Sally H. Thomas, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in May 2000 that committed the county to protecting the road as a two-lane scenic corridor all the way west to the county line. VDOT conceded that 250 was used largely for local traffic, and if residents wanted to deal with the congestion, that could be a local choice.

Since 2001, the traffic on 250 west has increased on all the sections measured annually by VDOT. Near Yancey Mills and Old Trail, traffic is up by 28 percent as of 2008. However, the section from Miller School Road to the Mechums River is up 48 percent over the same period, and from there to Ivy it has increased 41 percent.

Jarmans Gap Improvement Cut?

From Charlottesville Tomorrow:

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will vote this week on ways to deal with a $851.5 shortfall in VDOT’s Six-Year Plan. Among the cuts is nearly $7 million for Jarmans Gap Road, a key infrastructure project supporting the Crozet Master Plan, adopted in 2004. The project currently has an advertisement date of January 2011, but that is likely to change if the cuts are approved.

Read the whole story and get involved.

Walking to School in Crozet

It’s really not that far from home to Crozet Elementary, and while I wish there were sidewalks the entire way, it’s a pretty good little walk. Better yet, my small one and I stopped at Mudhouse on the way back home …

Personally, I’m grateful to live in such a walkable place.

Do you walk your kids to school?

Even better, I had my camera with me and took a few shots along the way:

** If you take pictures in or of Crozet, upload them to flickr and tag them with “crozet” – then they will be displayed in the slideshow on the homepage of RealCrozetVA.**

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Continue reading “Walking to School in Crozet”

A Crozet Commuter Train?

From Charlottesville Tomorrow (read the whole thing) :

Encouraged by the reality of daily passenger service from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C., Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) sought the full Board’s support for a feasibility study for daily commuter service from Crozet to Charlottesville. The Board agreed on April 1, 2009 to send a letter to Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) officially seeking grant opportunities to study the idea further.

The service is proposed to be run on rails operated by the Buckingham Branch Rail Road (BBRR) , according to Mallek. She has met with Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris to discuss the idea with the railroad company’s officials. Buckingham Branch operates a railroad line that runs nearly 200 miles from Clifton Forge to Richmond on its Piedmont Branch.

The idea sprung up from a conversation between City resident John Pfaltz and Gale Wilson, the General Manager of the BBRR’s Richmond-Alleghany Division. Wilson identified three challenges, according to Pfaltz:

* Amtrak would need to sponsor the project and CSX, which owns the rail line, would need to approve the service

* CSX trains and Amtrak’s Cardinal service would take priority on the line

* Fencing would be required to keep pedestrians off of the track through Charlottesville

Pfaltz said the second item could be overcome by extending a “passing track” that currently exists in Ivy. This extra track would allow either the CSX train or the commuter train to park while the other train passes by. He estimates the start-up costs would be around $5 million.

(Hat Tip: C-Ville)

In a poll on RealCrozetVA last year, nearly 90% of respondents said that they would be willing to use rail service from Crozet to Charlottesville. About 60% of respondents said that they would be willing to pay less that five dollars each way –

The real challenge may lie in the answer to this question – what do you do when you get to Charlottesville? One idea is to have one of the rail cars be a bike car – then use bicycles to get around town.

Some studies have shown that properties close to transit are worth more …

Take the JAUNT Crozet Bus Service Survey

Would you like a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to commute to work or school in Charlottesville? JAUNT would like to hear about your transit needs in order to create a bus schedule and route that would satisfy as many Crozet citizens as possible. This is the perfect time to let JAUNT know what you would require in a bus service for use on a regular basis.

Please take a few minutes to complete a very brief online survey: JAUNT Survey

Co-sponsored by the Crozet Community Advisory Council and Ms. Ann Mallek, Supervisor for the White Hall District in cooperation with JAUNT, Inc.

Questions about this survey? Contact CCAC member Tim Tolson.

Note that this survey comes on the heels of John-N’s comment:

NBC29 reports today that JAUNT is jacking their rates as much as 50% for non-certified-handicapped patrons. So much for an affordable public transportation alternative for western Albemarle County. The increase seems to be for the purpose of appeasement to cab drivers and CTS buses who felt threatened by the cheaper publicly-funded alternatives. Too bad.

JAUNT is for Everybody

And they have some marketing to do to get that message across to the public. In short, as Charlottesville Tomorrow reports – if we want (bus) transit to and from Crozet, we have to ask and we have to use it.

Mallek is currently collecting names from those expressing interest, and trying to determine what schedule and location would best serve Crozet commuters. She says many of the constituents she’s talked to have offered to pay for a seat on the new route on a monthly basis, rather than day to day, to ensure that JAUNT sees sufficient interest to keep the service going.

It’s not rail, but efficient transit may help real estate values.