UVa’s $2 Million Pedestrian Crossing

I love my alma mater, the University of Virginia, and I love pedestrian-friendly environments, but this strikes me as a trifle excessive: $2 million from the 2007 Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill to pay for a pedestrian crossing over Jefferson Park Avenue as part of the South Lawn project.

According to University of Virginia News, the crossing will link Jefferson’s historical “academical village” on the north side of the busy road with new classrooms and offices to the south.

C’mon — $2 million for a pedesterian bridge? What are they going to do — build the thing with Italian marble? This could be a case study, I’d bet, in how federal rules and requirements drive up the cost of the simplest of construction projects.

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9 responses to “UVa’s $2 Million Pedestrian Crossing”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    What are they going to do — line the thing with Italian marble?

    um, probably. It’s UVA.

  2. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Is this a crosswalk, or a pedestrian overpass? If it is an overpass, how high and long is it, and has it got escalators, or stairs?

    What is the density of traffic on Jefferson Park Avenue? Figure there is a light instead of an overpass and the light stays red for 90 seconds. Say ten cars each direction are idling for 90 seconds every five minutes for six hours a day. In 53 years you would have wasted enough gas waiting for the light to pay for the overpass. That is at today’s gas prices, the payback period could get a lot shorter as gas prices rise, then again, that might mean a lot less traffic.

    That is not counting the time cost to the drivers for the extra traffic delay. In fifty three years, how many pedestrians will you kill without the overpass? In fifty three years, how many drunken students will take a dive off the overpass and get killed anyway?

    Is it worth it? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

  3. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    While there may be some benefit in this investment, on a broader sense, it proves the state auditor was right in the criticism of transportation funding. Virginia funds projects without regard to their relationship to an overall transportation plan. But then, if the system changed, how would Richmond’s lobbyists earn their keep?

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: transportation planning

    Let’s not confuse mobility modes with cost effectiveness.

    The auditor found that VDOT does not rank and prioritize road projects.

    I guess it’s an open question as to how much VDOT should be spending for road projects verses how much should be spent for ped/bike facilities.

    Both in both cases – ranking, prioritization and cost-effectiveness would be legitimate issues.

    But.. if you wanted to combine BOTH roads and ped/bike facilities in an effort to rank and prioritize them in terms of mobility benefits.. methinks you’d be off on the deep end because VDOT cannot accomplish that role even when they’re restricted to roads only.

    Finally.. remember.. VDOT is perceived by most of us – as much more concerned with moving cars.. than moving people.

  5. Not Jack Herrity Avatar
    Not Jack Herrity

    $2M is not excessive for a pedestrian overpass, especially given ADA requirements (think elevators). The question remains whether it’s necessary.

    I want to know if an “academical village” is anything like an “academic village?”


  6. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    This is, in fact, the biggest change to UVa’s Central Grounds in decades. Cabell Hall will be torn down (about damned time) and the Lawn will be extended for another few hundred yards, clear over JPA. It will be a crosswalk in a certain sense, but people will really just continue walking along the grassy field, hopefully unaware that cars are speeding along beneath them.

    This will not only provide more Lawn, which is great, but it will also solve the problem of the crosswalk there, which is that students keep getting hit by speeding cars. It got so bad a few years ago that neon flags were kept on either side of the road — students were encouraged to pick one up and cross while waving it high in the air.

    The overall project is going to run over $100M. Perhaps there’s just $2M of it that can be classified as the pedestrian crossing itself, and that’s the origin of the number — and the description.

  7. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Egads, Waldo, the Lawn will be extended over Jefferson Park Avenue? That’s ambitious. No, that’s hubris.

    Admittedly, my sentiments are colored by my years at UVa more than 30 years ago. I lived on Valley Drive and crossed JPA every day to get to Cabell Hall. It didn’t seem so dangerous then, but I’m sure traffic is a lot worse these days.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think we all perhaps betray a bias when we question whether a pedestrian facility is necessary but we pretty much assume any kind of road facility is needed.

    Doesn’t that say something about our commitment to truly provide bikeable/walkable places for folks to work and live in?

    If push comes to shove – is the default – roads-only and ped/bike if and only if.. we’re awash in new roads and can think of no more to build?

    Ped/bike is not free… not a few left over bucks.. not chump change. It’s real dollars for – obstensibly – a real purpose.

    Bike/Ped costs proportionally in size to what a road would except that they require less right-of-way, less asphalt etc – AND – for every person on that bike/ped facility – one less auto.

    We can and should question – no, we should insist that ALL transportation facilities be cost-effective and not gold-plated versions but I hope that we’re not automatically thinking that bike/ped are, in fact, gold-plated “extras” to roadways.

    Charlottesville and UVA are clearly putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to ped/bike facilities. They have made clear that they do very much want a more walkable/bikeable community AND less cars on campus and environs.

  9. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “Ped/bike is not free… not a few left over bucks.. not chump change. It’s real dollars for – obstensibly – a real purpose.

    Bike/Ped costs proportionally in size to what a road would except that they require less right-of-way, less asphalt etc – AND – for every person on that bike/ped facility – one less auto.”

    This is pretty much my argument about conservation: it isn’t free, it will take more than chump change, and you cannot expect to continue to simply expropriate the money from landowners.

    I readily agree that we need to apropriate the right amount of money for bike and pedestrian paths, considering what they do. I ride my bike on bike paths, and I put the bike in the back of the car to get there.

    The common mistake I see here is that we can have one in place of the other. Wrong. Bikeriders will still own cars and their facilities are IN ADDITION TO whatever we decide to spend or not spend on roads.

    Likewise Conservation is going to be IN ADDITION TO development and therefore both efforts are going to wind up costing more.

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