VDOT Takes on Old Trail Drive

Thanks to Channel 29: (bolding mine)

A new Albemarle County Board of Supervisor’s resolution calls for a nearly one-mile stretch of Old Trail Drive in Crozet to be accepted into the state road system. Part of it was accepted into the system 2009, so this will complete the process.

“Old Trail Drive, in its entire length from Jarmans Gap Road to the other connection point at Route 250, has always been intended to be a pretty major traffic thoroughfare in Crozet,” she said. “The Crozet master plan presents it that way.”

There have been discussions over the years on RealCrozetVA about the accessibility of Old Trail Drive, and now it’s officially a public road. Great.

Related reading:

VDOT helps builders and citizens adjust to new secondary street standards

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.

Amtrak in Charlottesville – One Person’s Experience

Thank you to Stephen Goadhouse for this guest post:

Charlottesville now has an affordable option for traveling by train to Washington, DC.  It is a new route on the Amtrak Northeast Regional service.  After my first experience with the Northeast Regional, I highly recommend it as a great way to visit the big city.  Read on for the nitty-gritty and a little soap boxing.

Let’s Have An Adventure!

For several years, I heard about this interesting attempt to bring usable and affordable rail service to Charlottesville.  It was fun to fanatasize about taking the kids to the National Zoo on a Saturday, all by rail travel.  Well, the train is real and, for now, the fantasy is gone.  The train’s weekend schedule only gives you an hour or two to spend in DC before having to come back, but if you spend the night in DC (I hear good things about using Priceline.com) you’d have about 26 hrs to enjoy there.  The weekday schedule is much more useful; you have from about 12n to 4p. So, with a desire for adventure, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and book a day trip.


The train station in Charlottesville is accessible by car, bus and even bike (there’s a nice bike rack next to the station).  It costs $5 per day to park your car there, which is not really that bad – its downtown afterall.  Being the cheapskate I am, I decided to park in my UVa spot instead and I took the #7 CTS bus.  Had there not been a chance of rain, I would have opted for the bike.


A few quick words about Charlottesville’s CTS bus service.  I’m impressed.  It’s free with a University ID but would have only been $0.75 otherwise.  How did I know which bus to take and how much it would cost?  Google maps, my dear.  Charlottesville somehow makes their bus schedule available to Google.  You simply go to Google maps and get directions.  Make sure to pick the By Public Transit option. 
Continue reading “Amtrak in Charlottesville – One Person’s Experience”

Streetscape Concerns in Crozet

Perfection is the enemy of the good.
Gustave Flaubert
French realist novelist (1821 – 1880)

The Daily Progress has a good article about the stalling of the Streetscape project. Please read the whole thing.

“We don’t want the charm of downtown to die away,” Trigo said. “That’s why we have to keep the businesses alive and work together.”

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors already has appropriated the money as part of its capital improvement plans, but Marshall said he and other CCAC members are worried the money will be spent on other county projects if property owners don’t get on board.

“Downtown needs this to happen and time is slipping away,” Marshall said. “This is a project that will benefit everybody, [but] the county needs to find a way to reassure [property owners] they are going to hold contractors to a schedule and stick to it.”

My question is this – if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity now, when will we? We’re not going to get a perfect plan – but we need to insist on getting this started and finished as soon as possible. What better time than the midst of a recession to prepare for the other side?

Secondly, I’m going to borrow tfjtolson’s comment from the Daily Progress in its entirety:

I want the business owners of Crozet to know that while they build it (the streetscape) we will keep coming. I want them to stay in business and I want Crozet to have the improvements.
Therefore, as a Crozet resident, I pledge to keep patronizing their stores during the construction.

Who will join me in this pledge?

Update: More at C-Ville.

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.

A comment on JAUNT in Crozet

The following is from a reader. It seems that JAUNT has some marketing to do.

“Thanks for your blog entry that mentioned Jaunt. I didn’t know they offer commuter service. I thought they only did transport for handicapped folks. I spoke with (someone) at Jaunt who advised that all commuter service between Crozet-Cville is door-to-door upon request, and they have no way of knowing how long any particular route would take on any given day.

She said that there are no plans for express service — and it would have to be taken up with city council who funds them.

I would definitely consider using the service if it would just be one pick-up in Crozet (say at Bank of America parking lot which is a designated park & ride) to a stop (or two) in Cville [Downtown Mall & UVA/Corner?].

I think that the service needs to have a predictable schedule and route.

I really can’t commit to using a service that might take 45 mins-1 hour due to multiple stops along the way.”