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Connecting equal access, environmental best practice–and cost savings
As you may know, PEC is working with Albemarle County and many other partners to facilitate access to Biscuit Run Park, near the southern edge of Charlottesville. I’m writing to update you — and ask for your help — with a key park connection for residents of the Southwood community and other surrounding neighborhoods.
Biscuit Run Park is scheduled to open this fall. At 1,190 acres of woodlands and fields, it will be vast — nearly three times the size of other large county parks. And it’s going to be conveniently located next to neighborhoods where thousands of people live, work and go to school.
But for some, particularly those on the park’s western side and those whose only or preferred mode of transportation is on foot or bicycle, this new community resource will be very difficult to reach. That’s because the County’s planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge and trail connecting the park to neighborhoods on its western side won’t be built until 2027 at the earliest. Southwood residents and other neighbors deserve to have equal access to this amazing new recreational resource right in their backyards, sooner, rather than later.
Ask the County to build the bridge in 2025!
Fortunately, we see a path forward to move the planned construction of this bridge forward. Currently, the County is planning — in 2025 — a major stream restoration project in the same area as the future bridge project. If the County were to restore the stream and build the bridge at the same time (rather than wait until 2027), it could save significant costs, minimize environmental impacts, and make the park and greenway network available to more people, sooner. It doesn’t make sense to restore the stream then immediately tear it up.
That will require direction from the County’s leadership, which means advocacy. That’s where you come in.
Making a start
The initial entrance into Biscuit Run Park will be on its eastern side, off of Virginia State Route 20, which is currently only accessible by car. Along the park’s western side, where many residents rely on foot and bicycle transportation, the park’s namesake stream is deeply channeled, highly eroded and extremely difficult to cross safely. This means that the park will be visible — but inaccessible — to community members there.
With a grant from the Charlottesville-based Genan Foundation, PEC hired local engineering firm Line + Grade to determine the optimal location of a bridge over that stream, with the least environmental impact. Line + Grade’s study has drawings that show how it would sit in the landscape, with construction options and cost estimates.
Once complete, the bridge and trail connection will be a transportation resource for those who don’t have or use cars to get around. It will be for walking and biking only, be wheelchair and stroller accessible, and connect residents to the park and to the area’s trail network, which links to job locations, schools and shopping centers.
PEC’s next steps
PEC is urging County officials to synchronize management and scheduling of the stream and bridge projects and mobilizing public support.
We are also seeking funds for the technical bridge design that will finalize the location and answer any remaining questions. By doing this, we believe the bridge design can be accelerated to catch up with the stream restoration, but it will require a commitment from the County.
What you can do
- Contact the Board of Supervisors to ask that the bridge project be moved up to 2025, so that the park can be more accessible, sooner. You can email directly at BOS@albemarle.org or attend one of its meetings.
- Join PEC’s list of advocates and allies for connectivity and outdoor access.
- Reach out to Albemarle County Parks to learn more about Biscuit Run Park and volunteer opportunities (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Help get your neighbors involved
For more information, please contact Peter Krebs, Community Advocacy Manager at The Piedmont Environmental Council, email@example.com.