The removal of the utility poles and wires from Crozet Avenue’s downtown stretch during January satisfied the Virginia Department of Transportation’s last condition for authorizing work on the long-awaited $2.1 million street improvement project. Albemarle County gave its official Notice to Proceed to the contractor, Linco, Inc. of Waynesboro, on Jan. 31. The contract allows Linco 270 days from the date of the notice to complete the job; so it is expected to be done in October.
An earlier plan to detour traffic away from Tabor Street and into The Square, a route that promised parking problems for businesses there, has been abandoned and now the detour will be through Library Avenue.
“VDOT first thought it didn’t have the right of way over Oak Street, but they discovered they did,” explained Albemarle County Director of Facilities Planning Trevor Henry.
VDOT has determined that this is the only viable detour route.
The new detour plan had a public hearing from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Feb. 5—they must approve the detour—and it will be on the consent agenda for their Feb. 12 meeting to avoid causing a work delay.
Tabor Street’s intersection with Crozet Avenue is expected close for 15 days beginning on Feb. 24. Weather permitting, Tabor Street is expected to reopen March 14. Improvements to the intersection involve storm water drains, gutters and sidewalks. Tabor will be re-graded to create a more level “landing area” for cars as they stop at Crozet Avenue.
The changes were expected to take five weeks to complete if Tabor were to remain partially open and managed with flagmen. Tabor will be closed during work hours—8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.—on weekdays and open in the evening and on weekends.
Traffic from the neighborhoods around Claudius Crozet Park will use High Street to reach the old lumberyard and from there proceed to Library Avenue. Two old, platted but undeveloped roads exist there: Oak Street, which connects Library Avenue to The Square, and Ellison Street, which connects High Street to Oak Street. The oak trees that still stand in downtown are the remnants of what was once called Ellison’s Grove.
The county will grade and gravel the detour section connecting High Street and Library Avenue to a ‘drivable surface’ and improve its drainage. Signs will mark the route.
Residences on Tabor as well as Tabor Presbyterian Church will be accessible from High Street during the detour period.
Once work begins, county project manager Frank Pohl, who is responsible for daily oversight of the performance of the work, will hold “office hours” at Crozet Library on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. and on Thursdays from 12 to 1 p.m. to answer questions from citizens and hear complaints. County public school bus drivers have been briefed on the detour.
County officials say they still intend to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, but they have not announced a date for it.
The work will proceed in six sections, first on the east side of Crozet Avenue, where most the widening will happen, and later on the west side. Each section will be brought to near completion, finished except for the final coat of pavement, before the next section is begun. This plan is believed to result in the least disruption to businesses on the street.
The county will post updates on work progress on a website (www.albemarle.org/crozetstreetscape), on the county’s Facebook page, Twitter, and through its “A mail” list, an email service that citizens can sign up to receive that allows them to get news and event notices from county government. To sign up for Amail go to www.albemarle.org/amail.