TJPDC adds Stanardsville to its MPO want list

By Susan Gibbs

TJPDC Executive Director Steve Williams

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission would like to incorporate the Town of Stanardsville into its Metropolitan Planning Organization along with Ruckersville and Twin Lakes, TJPDC Executive Director Steve Williams told Greene County supervisors at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, July 24.

The MPO is a federally-mandated program established by the federal government that maintains a contractual agreement with TJPDC to provide staff. It is designed to facilitate regional cooperation on transportation issues of regional importance in communities with more than 50,000 residents via its long-range transportation plan.

However, Williams told supervisors, the long-range transportation plan was “not just for planning projects on the existing roadway system.”

TJPDC’s assistance, Williams said, “extends to doing things like subdivision and development applications … we maintain and use … a travel demand model … that’s very useful in looking at either new road facilities or new land use development or both … and to provide some good information to local governments that they can use to anticipate what changes are going to result from those types of things.”

Williams presented the Board with an example of how the transportation planning works: “Albemarle County came to us (with) a proposal for a development immediately adjacent to Charlottesville boundaries … that was going to involve a new road … and they wanted to know what the traffic impacts were going to be. We provided the results of our analysis to the county and the city and the developer … they are negotiating traffic improvements based on that information.”

He did not state whether or not the developer was expected to proffer improvements, but he did say that

TJPDC’s focus is on “the larger, federally funded facilities like US29, 250, the state highway, other things like that.”

Williams continued: “We are … doing our once every 10 year review of the areas that should possibly be considered to be part of the MPO … Ruckersville and possibly the related Stanardsville area is one part of that up here in Greene County.”

He did not explain why Stanardsville, with a population of about 500 people on a total area of about 0.3 square miles, would be incorporated into the MPO.

The Twin Lakes area of Ruckersville was mentioned for inclusion in the MPO two weeks earlier, at the Board of Supervisors’ regularly scheduled meeting July 10.

At that time, Andrea Wilkinson, citizen liaison between Greene’s supervisors and TJPDC,  told the Board that what membership in the MPO “allows you to do is benefit from some transportation funding that is federally-funded 80 percent, 10 percent state-funded and 10 percent planning district funded.”

Also on July 10, Greene County Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda explained to supervisors that the Western Bypass in Charlottesville is an MPO project and that as related improvements take place on US 29 in Albemarle.

“As that develops … if projects continue into the future heading north it’s likely that whatever happens either on 29 or off 29 would be planned together as part of the MPO … the potential is there that we’ll receive improvements on 29,” Svoboda said July 10.

On July 12, Eye on Greene reported that neither Wilkinson nor Svoboda had told the Board that TJPDC’s Charlottesville Regional Implementation Plan, required by a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant received in the late fall of 2010, calls for the implementation of TJPDC’s sustainability accords.

Those accords call for, along with the alignment of land use and transportation visions, the development and codification of implementation strategies into the comprehensive plans, codes and ordinances of localities in the region.

Language in keeping with TJPDC’s sustainability accords as well as with the regional transportation plan has already been inserted into Greene County’s updated comprehensive plan, which was approved by supervisors in June 2010.

On July 24, Williams focused on speaking to TJPDC’s Long Range Transportation Plan, also known as the United Jefferson Area Mobility Plan (UnJAM 2035), which is available for public viewing at  http://www.tjpdc.org/UnJAM2035/index.asp, and was approved by the MPO Policy Board in May 2009.

He did not say that UnJAM 2035’s regional goals include, among other things:

  • A more complete network of parallel and connector roads
  • The re-engineering of existing roads for increased capacity, safety and an enhanced business environment
  • The development of new roadway designs for balanced, multi-modal performance
  • Pedestrian friendly streets and highways with complete, connected sidewalk systems
  • A complete bicycle network with amenities, to include on-road bike lanes on urban streets, off-road multi-purpose trails along major corridors
  • Separate freight movements from passenger travel where possible
  • The amendment of codes and standards for more flexible roadway and development designs
  • The expansion of modeling and forecasting to coordinate transportation and land use planning

Williams did tell supervisors that the county’s secondary road system would have to be incorporated into that plan.

He also said it was unclear as to whether or not Greene County would be a voting member if it chose to join the MPO.

“There are several possibilities,” Williams said. “They could ask you to join and become full voting members;  they could ask you to join as ex-officio members for some time period – two to four years, something like that, with the understanding that at some date in the future that would be reassessed and they would consider a voting membership at that point; or, they could just ask you to participate for some period of time and then ultimately come in to some form of membership.”

Following a question and answer period, Greene’s supervisors unanimously agreed to take the offer under consideration.

Currently, the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County are the only MPO members. In addition to Greene, TJPDC would like to include Zion Crossroads, Lake Monticello and Crozet in the organization.

 

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