Charlottesville: CARES grant, SmartScale improvements, Belmont Bridge replacement

CharlottesvilleCharlottesville City Council had a busy meeting Monday night, approving new city planning measures and COVID-19 relief strategies.

CARES Act funding

The Council approved a plan for the distribution of funds from a federal grant to the city. Coming from the CARES Act passed by Congress in March, the city will receive a $246,699 grant as a part of federal stimulus packages aiding in coronavirus relief. The funding is a subset of the preexisting Community Development Block Grant program, which has been modified to help small cities plan around the coronavirus.

The targets of the funding include homelessness prevention and support for testing and outreach. For example, the grants may provide rent relief to low-income households facing eviction, and hiring employees to coordinate testing efforts.

Belmont Bridge

Council members also approved plans to move forward with the construction of the Belmont Bridge. They approved a $15.3 million allocation for the new bridge. At its completion, the project is estimated to cost $31 million, with $13 million coming from city resources. The rest of the funding will come from state and local sources.

The new bridge will feature a pedestrian walkway, a staircase, and bike lanes.

City staff have been working on the project since 2003, and will seek construction bids in the fall.

SmartScale improvements

Finally, the Council discussed SmartScale improvements in public transportation around the city. Chip Boyles of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission offered a plan that would prioritize intersection safety and pedestrian walkways at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and 29 North, as well as at Fifth Street commercial locations. He also proposed extending Hillsdale Drive and creating a traffic circle at its intersection with Hydraulic Road.

Council endorsed these applications, moving forward plans for new construction.

Story by Grace Ayyildiz

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