Belmont Bridge

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The Belmont Bridge carries Avon Street over the CSX railway, and separates the Downtown Mall from the Belmont Carlton neighborhood. The current bridge is the second structure to cross the railroad tracks but it is slated for replacement. A design was approved by City Council in the fall of 2017. [citation needed]

Geotechnical work for its replacement began in June 2018. [1]


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Belmont Bridge Replacement
Belmont-bridge.jpg

Planned

Project Overview

To replace a bridge that has a sufficiency rating of 47.6 [2]
Cost $23 million
Location City Hall
Sponsor Charlottesville
Next meeting May 2018 City Council Public Hearing (tbd)

Status Update

Kimley-Horn is developing construction documents for the project

Website Official site
Contact Jeanette Janiczek, VDOT program manager, Charlottesville

Charlottesville has spent several years studying the best approach to replace the Belmont Bridge, which carries Avon Street over the Buckingham Branch railroad line. [3] Template:Asof, the firm Kimley-Horn is developing construction documents for a new bridge that will be shorter than the existing bridge. [4]

History

Prior to 1905, there were gates at an at-grade crossing with the railroad that controlled pedestrian and horse access to the tracks. [5] One of the guardians of these gates was a man named Ned Harrison, who went by Uncle Ned.

The first bridge to span the railroad tracks was built in 1905 and helped trigger rapid growth in the Belmont-Carlton neighborhood. [6] This bridge was replaced in 1961.

The current bridge was originally built in 1961.

In 2003, the Belmont Bridge was determined by the City of Charlottesville to be “rapidly deteriorating” and a plan was put in place to replace it. According to the staff report prepared for the April 6, 2009 City Council meeting, the elements of the bridge were beginning to crumble, and replacement was recommended rather than repair.[7]

Eight years of planning

The project is one of several being administered by the City's Department of Neighborhood Development Services.

In December 2008, a cost/benefit analysis conducted by the city supported full replacement rather than repair. A design request for proposals was developed. [8][dead link] [MMM Design]] was selected to serve as the design consultant for the project. [9] At the time the company had an office in the Market Street Parking Garage.

Initial struggles with funding

The city received $1 million in VDOT revenue sharing money for the project in FY2012. [10]

In November 2009, VDOT officials announced plans to cut several hundred million dollars worth of projects to fill a budget deficit, threatening the ability for the city to save for the bridge. [11]

Rocky road for the MMM Design

MMM Design held a public kick-off meeting in November 2010. [12] However, after a series of public meetings they presented a design that did not meet the favor of many in the Belmont community.

Contest leads to commpeting designs

Filmmaker Brian Wimer held a contest in February 2012 called Project Gait-Way to solicit new designs. The winning concept called for the bridge to be replaced with an at-grade crossing with the Buckingham Branch Railroad. [13] The result lead to uncertainty about which direction the city would go as transportation planners weighed their options. [14]

City Council considered the matter at its meeting on March 5, 2012. Several members of the public urged Council to consider the winning entry when considering a replacement. Mayor Satyendra Huja said doing away with the bridge would be impractical. [15] NDS Director Jim Tolbert told Council that he was working with MMM, city staff and the chair of the U.Va School of Architecture. He said the newly-created PLACE Design Task Force would be initial body to review work of the "local architect to work with their design team." MMM continued work on the project.

The design firm Siteworks Studio was hired as a subcontractor, and spent the summer of 2012 taking the elements from design contest entries to incorporate into a new design. Two alternatives have been developed. One would be a replacement of the bridge. The other would be an underpass, with Avon Street dipping below the CSX railroad tracks. Both designs also feature a pedestrian-only suspension bridge, a plaza, and a linear park along the railroad. [16][dead link]

The PLACE Design Task Force reviewed the proposals in December 2012. The task force recommended the adoption of the underpass scheme because it concluded that it would provide easier and more attractive access to the Downtown Mall and give greater development potential to land south of the railroad tracks. [17] [18][dead link] Charlottesville sought public input regarding the two designs in February 2013. [19]

Public input was again solicited at a meeting in November 2013 at which some participants expressed a feeling they were trapped in an endless loop. [20] MMM continued work on the project throughout the winter of 2014. [21] However a competing design for an underpass developed by architect Jim Rounsevell was championed by many in the community and was to be presented along side two design scenarios MMM was developing. [22]

Council opted to proceed with one of the bridge designs developed by MMM in late July 2014. [23] However, MMM went out of business leaving the city having to start nearly from scratch. [24]

2015 search for new design firm

A request for proposals for a new design firm was created by the steering committee and was advertised by the end of November 2015. [25]

On October 20, 2016, NDS director Alexander Ikefuna told the PACC-Tech Committee that the Virginia Department of Transportation was reviewing the contract with the unknown firm on issues related to the pay-scale as well as "new provisions from Washington." He said the city attorney's office would have to review any changes that were made.

The project was dormant for many months after the summer of 2014 but a request for proposals had been advertised was the end of November 2015. [25] Negotiations proceeded throughout 2016 before Kimley-Horn was announced. [26]

Kimley-Horn takes on the job

Kimley-Horn began the public process in February 2017. [27] A survey conducted in the late winter and early spring indicated respondents wanted a functional bridge rather than a majestic icon. [28] Design workshops with multiple committees and stakeholders was held in late April. [29] The steering committee endorsed the basic concept in June 2017. [30] Council approved the preliminary design in October 2017. [4]

Latest information

The city of Charlottesville signed a $1.98 million contract with Kimley-Horn in late December 2016 to design an urban design plan for the bridge and the surrounding areas. [31] This came after several months of negotiations over the scope and fee to redesign the bridge following the failure of the now-closed MMM Design to produce a satisfactory alternative. [32]

Kimley-Horn is currently developing construction documents following preliminary design approval from the Board of Architectural Review, the Planning Commission and City Council. [33] [4]

Construction on the replacement is not expected to begin until at least 2018 or 2019. [citation needed]

Development timeline

  • April 2009: MMM Design hired to engineer and design new bridge [9]
  • November 30, 2010: Kick-off meeting at CitySpace. [12] [34]
  • January 2011: Meeting held with adjacent neighborhoods.[35]
  • January 2011: Meeting with Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville. [36]
  • January 12, 2011: Meeting with bike and pedestrian community. [37]
  • January 20, 2011: Meeting with Economic & Government Affairs Committee of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. [38]
  • March 2, 2011: Public design charette. [39]
  • June 20, 2011: Council briefed on design progress. [3]
  • September 14, 2011: Design Preview Meeting[40]
  • March 5, 2012: City council briefed on contest results, next steps in design
  • January 13, 2013: PLACE Design Task Force recommends underpass option [17]
  • February 13, 2013: Belmont Bridge Conceptual Design Review meeting at Central Library. [19]
  • November 21, 2013: Another public meeting is held to gather input on bridge design [20]
  • May 20, 2014: Another public meeting is held to demonstrate two MMM designs as well as underpass [41]
  • July 22, 2014: Council decides unanimously to proceed with one of the MMM designs [23]
  • Fall 2014: MMM goes out of business
  • November 12, 2015: City urban designer Carrie Rainey said request for new proposals should be advertised by end of month [25]
  • November 27, 2015: City issues request for proposals. [42]
  • October 20, 2016: Ikefuna updates the PACC-Tech Committee
  • February 2017: Plans were announced to close the remaining sidewalk [43]
  • April 2017: Kimley-Horn holds design charrettes [44]
  • October 2017: Council approved the preliminary design in October 2017. [4]
  • June 2018: Geotechnical work begins [1]

Map and images

Underside of Belmont Bridge from East Water Street

"A Tale of Two Bridges" - A video made for Project Gait-Way

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Web. First Steps in Belmont Bridge Construction Are Underway, Lowell Rose, News Article, NBC29, June 10, 2018, retrieved June 11, 2018.
  2. {{cite web|title=Revenue matching funds for roads cut|url=http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/revenue-matching-funds-for-roads-cut/article_92c0ef2b-5289-5b31-8a9e-475c7dc90105.html%7Cauthor=Rachana Dixit|work=News Article|publisher=Charlottesville Daily Progress / Lynchburg News Advance|location=|publishdate=June 28, 2010|accessdate=January 20, 2018}
  3. 3.0 3.1 Web. Belmont Bridge design coming into focus, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 22, 2011, retrieved June 29, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Web. Belmont Bridge design wins council's approval, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, October 17, 2017, retrieved December 27, 2017.
  5. Web. Belmont - A History of a Neighborhood, James H. Buck Jr., Paper for James Kinard's Local History course, May 1980, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  6. Web. City of Charlottesville Strategic Investment Area Plan, Cunningham Quill, Cunningham Quill, December 13, 2013, retrieved July 28, 2014.
  7. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, April 6 2003.. Also available in older archive.
  8. Web. Project Tracking Matrix, MPO Policy Board, December 15 2008, retrieved 9 Nov 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Web. MMM Design selected to oversee new Belmont Bridge design work, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, April 8, 2009, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  10. Web. FY 2012 Revenue Sharing Allocations, Virginia Department of Transportation, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  11. Web. Belmont Bridge fix funds in danger, Ted Strong, Daily Progress, Media General, November 25, 2009, retrieved January 2, 2018.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Web. November 30, 2010 Kick-Off Meeting, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  13. Web. Winning design for Belmont: No bridge, more connectivity for Belmont and Downtown Mall, Courtney Beale, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 21, 2012, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  14. Web. Design work on U.S. 29 widening to start this summer, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 24, 2012, retrieved December 27, 2016.
  15. Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, March 5, 2012.
  16. Web. Conceptual Design Review, City of Charlottesville, Belmont Bridge Replacement Project, Feb 2013, retrieved 8 July 2013.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Web. Belmont Bridge replacement proposals, PLACE Design Task Force, Advisory Memo, PLACE Design Task Force, January 13, 2013, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  18. Web. Memorandum to City Council, PLACE Design Task Force, Belmont Bridge Replacement Project, 28 January 2013, retrieved 8 July 2013.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Web. Belmont Bridge proposals weighed at public meeting, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 14, 2013, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Web. City gathers more public input on Belmont Bridge replacement, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, November 21, 2003, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  21. Web. Belmont Bridge design getting refined, Effie Effie Nicholaou, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  22. Web. Enhanced Belmont Bridge to be presented alongside underpass, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, March 13, 2014, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Web. Unanimous Council dismisses underpass as Belmont Bridge replacement, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, July 22, 2014, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  24. Web. City to hire new firm to design Belmont Bridge, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, October 7, 2014, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Web. [1], Sean Tubbs, Twitter coverage of PLACE Design Task Force, Twitter, November 12, 2015, retrieved November 16, 2015.
  26. Web. Negotiations continue for firm to design new Belmont Bridge, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 29, 2016, retrieved January 11, 2017.
  27. Web. Kimley-Horn begins public process for new Belmont Bridge design, Sean Tubbs, News article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 21, 2017, retrieved December 27, 2017.
  28. Web. Belmont Bridge replacement doesn’t need iconic status, survey says, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, March 29, 2017, retrieved December 28, 2017.
  29. Web. Kimley-Horn wraps up Belmont Bridge design workshop, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, April 19, 2017, retrieved December 28, 2017.
  30. Web. Belmont Bridge Steering Committee endorses design elements, Kayli Wren, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 15, 2017, retrieved January 1, 2018.
  31. Web. City signs design contract for Belmont Bridge replacement, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, December 26, 2016, retrieved December 27, 2016.
  32. Web. http://cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/24295-belmont-bridge-negotiations/, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 29, 2016, retrieved October 24, 2016.
  33. Web. Belmont Bridge Steering Committee endorses design elements, Kayli Wren, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 15, 2017, retrieved June 26, 2017.
  34. Web. http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/6368-belmont-bridge-replacement/, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, December 1, 2010, retrieved November 16, 2015.
  35. Web. Adjacent neighborhood meeting, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  36. Web. DBAC meeting, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  37. Web. [2], City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  38. Web. Chamber of Commerce meeting, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  39. Web. Public design charette, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 8, 2011.
  40. Web. Belmont Bridge Replacement Design Preview Meeting, Charlottesville Tomorrow, retrieved September 1, 2011.
  41. Web. More questions raised about Belmont Bridge replacements, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, May 21, 2014, retrieved January 20, 2018.
  42. Web. Charlottesville seeks ‘urban design plan’ for Belmont Bridge, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, November 29, 2016, retrieved April 27, 2016.
  43. Web. Sidewalk to be closed on deteriorating Belmont Bridge, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 13, 2017, retrieved December 26, 2017.
  44. Web. [3], Charlottesville Tomorrow, retrieved May 9, 2017.

External links

Official project site

Resources