Construction on Monticello Avenue redesign to start next month, following City Council's approval

Staff writer

Construction on a design overhaul of a section of Monticello Avenue from Richmond Road to Treyburn Drive will begin in September, following City Council’s unanimous approval Thursday.

The board signed off on a comprehensive agreement with York County-based contractor Henderson Inc. to begin work on a streetscape redesign of the corridor. The project is expected to begin next month and should be completed in July 2020. The contract will cost the city $3.85 million from its capital improvement project budget.

“Henderson expects to start the work after Labor Day and to be completed next summer, approximately six months before the first buildings in Midtown Row will be finished,” said City Engineer Aaron Small.

Once it’s finished, a parallel parking lane and a bike lane separated by bollards will be added to the side of Monticello Avenue next to the former Williamsburg Shopping Center, while a WATA bus pull-off stop with a bus shelter and a right turn lane into the former Monticello Shopping Center will be added on the other side of the street. A new intersection also will be built there to lead into a new private entrance road on the Williamsburg Shopping Center side called College Row.

“That allows traffic to turn into the shopping center, and that gets (cars) out of the travel lane so that we can actually get more throughput for vehicles traveling toward James City County,” Small said about the new right turning lane.

The number of lanes along the expanded road will vary as drivers travel from Treyburn Drive to Richmond Road.

The need to keep traffic flowing through the corridor was a concern for council members. Small said the continued presence of a middle turning lane along the road and the addition of a second left-turn lane from Monticello Avenue onto Richmond Road are meant to relieve congestion at that intersection.

For pedestrians and visitors to the Midtown Row mixed-use development, the current 5-foot concrete sidewalk from Mount Vernon Avenue to Treyburn Drive will be replaced with a 10-foot wide asphalt multi-use path for bicycles and pedestrians, while the existing sidewalk that borders Midtown Row along Richmond Road from Monticello Avenue to Bacon Street will be replaced with a similar 10-foot wide concrete shared-use path.

According to a timeline for the work attached to the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, the first step in the redesign will be to create a new entrance into the former Monticello Shopping Center in front of Ace Hardware, as well as the right-turn lane into that shopping center.

Small said he expects there to be periodic lane narrowing while work on the redesign is underway, but that he doesn’t think any road shutdowns along Monticello Avenue are planned during construction.

Council members were supportive of the roadwork project, but Vice-Mayor Doug Pons voiced concerns about the parallel parking lane, saying that a right turning lane into the former Williamsburg Shopping Center could be more effective in keeping traffic along the corridor from slowing down.

“The design certainly works toward that pedestrian feel that I think we all aspire to. With the renovations that have happened at (the) Monticello (shopping center) and what’s happening at Midtown Row, that all becomes one mixed-use development, so that makes sense,” Pons said. “The concern is if it doesn’t work out for traffic, and if it doesn’t, what are our options beyond that?”

In response, Small said the public works department will assess the effectiveness of the parallel parking lane along Midtown Row, but that it can be converted into another lane for traffic, if needed.

“If it doesn’t work out and the parallel parking is causing more problems than it’s solving, one thing we can do is re-stripe and make that parallel parking lane into a through lane, and we’ll then have two through lanes coming in,” Small said.

At Thursday’s meeting, City Council also unanimously voted to award a $199,351 contract to construction company Earley Contracting Corp. for maintenance work on city bridges at Capitol Landing Road and Bypass Road. The work is scheduled to begin next month and is expected to wrap up in November.

The board also signed off on a request to designate the downtown Williamsburg library plaza and the Williamsburg Community Building lawn as a new city park named City Square.

Rodrigo Arriaza, rarriaza@vagazette.com, 757-790-9313, @rodrigoarriaza0

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