July 21, 2014
After a late night vote from Charlottesville city council, the future of the Belmont bridge has been decided.
City Council chose one of the three "overpass" bridge replacement options. The new "enhanced bridge" will allow for construction without completely redirecting traffic or changing the railroad schedule, a major selling point for councilors.
The chosen bridge will be half the length of the existing one, and free up more space for pedestrians and bike areas.
The popular underpass option that was a favorite among local business owners in that area ended up being unpopular with the board.
Councilor Dede Smith was against the larger price tag.
"My major concern about the choices we make is that we do not expend an excessive amount of city taxpayer dollars to get something that's more than what we really need."
Councilor Kristin Szakos said that no matter what the higher cost, the funds could be used elsewhere.
"We have Buford middle school that needs building. We have a lot of infrastructure needs here in the city many of them are bike and pedestrian infrastructure. We have a lot of things that I can imagine we would want to do with that money without putting it all in one particular project."
City councilor Bob Fenwick said that partially replacing the bridge would be a win for the city and that option would leave money to help other bridges.
"Greenbrier has bridges in the structurally deficient category and two others in close proximity. So, I share the concern about spending so much money in one spot in our city when it makes more sense to try to take care of many spots."
Councilor Kathy Galvin was the only vote against the bridge option.
She said she has been unhappy with the entire design process and favored starting over from scratch.
The next step is the bidding process for construction. After that, the project is slated to take 18 months to build.