Hillsdale Drive News
Hillsdale Drive "Notes From Peter Thompson"
As a reader of my Senior Center Times column you are almost certainly aware of the Hillsdale Drive extension project. We are at the next critical phase of this project. On Tuesday, May 8 from 4:30 until 7:00 p.m. there will be a Citizens Information Meeting at the Senior Center. I encourage you to attend this meeting to learn where we are in the process and how you can impact this project.
In 2005, Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County all approved the location of this road to extend through the existing Pepsi Place corridor, between the Pepsi Plant and the U.S. Post Office and through Seminole Square to connect to Hydraulic Road just east of K-Mart.
Charlottesville has hired a contractor to design the road, including where to place sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes and bus stops as well as landscaping details.
Importantly, it was input from concerned citizens like you, as well as the Senior Center’s advocacy, that the CTB’s approval of the road location includes several stipulations. These include a focus on safety for those of us who live or work in this neighborhood or access organizations like the Senior Center. Another important stipulation for the Senior Center is that any loss of parking in our area such as on Pepsi Place must be replaced. The design consultant must evaluate the feasibility of a multi-use trail for pedestrians, bicyclists and those who use wheelchairs and other alternative vehicles.
Now is the time to have your voice heard again to ensure the design of this road enhances rather than detracts from our neighborhood. The decision-makers heard the concerns of citizens during the location study and I have confidence they will hear our concerns now during the design process.
The current projected timeline includes several information meetings in 2007, a design public hearing in late 2007 and construction beginning in late 2009. Visit www.hillsdaledrive.org for more information.
Representatives from local neighborhood associations such as Brookmill and Branchlands and myself are working to represent our neighborhood’s interests on a Steering Committee that is working with Charlottesville to design this road. We need your voice on May 8 to help launch a successful road design process.
Hillsdale Drive Extension Update
The City of Charlottesville has re-convened the Steering Committee on the Hillsdale Drive extension project. The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a basic road location in 2005, to be constructed along Pepsi Place and through Seminole Square, connecting to Hydraulic Road. The Steering Committee includes representatives from local neighborhoods as well as Senior Center Executive Director Peter Thompson, and has hired a consultant to begin designing the roadway, addressing issues such as speed limit, sidewalks, the Greenbrier intersections, and more.
Senior Center, Inc.’s interests in building a road that is safe and protects existing Pepsi Place parking, remains in the committees recommendations at this point. Citizen meetings will be scheduled this year to hear what you think is important for the engineers to consider when designing this road. Be sure to keep reading the Senior Center Times which will announce upcoming meetings. It is expected that the design phase will take all of 2006, with the public hearing on the final design to take place in 2007. The safety improvement project for the existing Hillsdale Drive is still planned, but has been delayed until 2007. For more information, please visit www.hillsdaledrive.org
Hillsdale Drive Safety Improvements Approved
The Albemarle County Hillsdale Drive Multi-Modal Safety Project grant application was recently approved for nearly $300,000. You may have been involved in a series of meetings held at the Senior Center in 2002-2003 regarding safety issues on existing Hillsdale Drive. Albemarle County submitted a grant proposal to implement improvements that were identified by you during those meetings. While full funding was not approved, causing a delay in some improvements, the following projects should be done in 2006 or 2007:
- Raised median crosswalks at Senior Center, JABA, Squire Hill, Food Lion, and
- Branchlands Blvd;
- Re-stripe travel lanes to reduce vehicle speed;
- Sidewalks constructed between Branchlands Blvd and Mall Drive;
- Combine the entryways of Our Lady of Peace and Church of the Incarnation (fewer entry and exit points along Hillsdale will result in a safer environment for cars and pedestrians);
- Trails along southeast side of Hillsdale Drive, at the storm water ponds, and to the
- mall from JABA;
- Lighting in medians and along walkways for nighttime and rainy day safety.
Details on these improvements will be planned over the next two years. Thank you to everyone who participated in the citizen meetings that brought the safety issues of our neighborhood to the attention of area decision-makers.
Hillsdale Drive Project Web Site
Board of Directors Issues Position Statement on Hillsdale Drive Extension Project.
At the June Board meeting, the following Position Statement on the proposed Hillsdale Drive extension project was approved:
Senior Center, Inc. on Pepsi Place in Charlottesville is one of Virginia’s largest and longest operating senior centers. Founded in 1960, we have been in our current facility since 1991. We are the first nationally accredited Senior Center in Virginia, and just the 84th of the 15,000 senior centers nationwide. We are able to serve over 45,000 participants annually, primarily because of our large facility, our accessibility, and adequate parking. The Senior Center is a resource used by thousands of citizens of all ages from Charlottesville, Albemarle and surrounding counties.
We understand the goals of the Hillsdale extension project. However, we do not think it is appropriate to divert through traffic from Route 29, a road designed for through traffic, into the Hillsdale/Greenbrier area that is a neighborhood, not a throughway. If Hillsdale is extended, it must be primarily designed for local traffic.
The Hillsdale Drive extension, well-planned, could be beneficial to the community, and to the Senior Center’s ability to provide programs for area seniors by improving access to the Center. Poorly planned, the Hillsdale extension could severely limit our ability to provide for seniors and make it untenable for us to stay on Pepsi Place.
Our primary concerns at this time are two fold:
I. Safety. The Hillsdale extension would affect neighborhood safety dramatically regardless of its location. We already have safety problems in this neighborhood with cars speeding, ignoring bike lanes and crosswalks, and running stop signs. We also have inadequate sidewalks and crosswalks throughout the Hillsdale/Greenbrier neighborhood. In 2002, Mr. Harrison Rue and the TJPDC led a study with neighborhood input that acknowledged the severity of these issues and prepared a plan to address them. The safety solutions this plan proposes must be completed before any Hillsdale Drive extension is completed. If Hillsdale is extended, improved crosswalks, sidewalks, and intersections along existing Hillsdale and Greenbrier, as well as the Hillsdale extension, must be completed. Additionally, the design of the road must accommodate the reality of a large proportion of seniors living in, and utilizing, this neighborhood. Proper traffic calming, speed limits, and other methods must be used to ensure safety for pedestrians and others.
II. Parking. Regardless of the location of the Hillsdale Drive extension, it is imperative that we maintain all of the parking on the Senior Center property, and the parking on Pepsi Place so seniors and others can access our facility for programs. Several times a week, we depend on Pepsi Place parking when our extensive selection of life-enriching programs meet. Eliminating Pepsi Place parking would severely limit our programs at a time when our senior population is booming.Hillsdale Drive Project Web Site