Plans for Pedestrian Bridge Over Rivanna River

City/County unveils $11-15 million plan for ped/bike bridge between Woolen Mills/Riverview and Pantops

Charlottesville and Albemarle County have been talking about building pedestrian/bike bridges over the Rivanna River since at least 2003, and around 2008, ahead of the construction of the new Martha Jefferson Hospital on Pantops, there was renewed interest in the ped/bike bridges idea, as many worried about the increased traffic across Free Bridge and the Pantops area. But plans never moved forward. Today, that part of town has become a bottle-neck that can back traffic up all the way to the top of Pantops mountain at times. Historically, planning has always focused on a park-to park bridge project, from Pen Park to Darden Towe Park, but now the focus is on a bridge between Woolen Mills/Riverview and Pantops.

As part of the Albemarle County’s PantopsMaster Plan, Charlottesville’s Bike/Ped Master Plan, and the Rivanna River Area Plan, planners will unveil a recently completed feasibility study, the Rivanna River Shared Use Path Bridge Study, which calls for a bridge between Woolen Mills/Riverview/ and Pantops. There are two bridge location/concepts within this area being considered.

Bridge Alignment #1 would cross the Rivanna River approximately 2,000 feet upstream from the confluence with Moores Creek. This crossing would include abutments on each side of the river channel to support a bridge deck situated at approximately 38 feet above the river elevation. The span between abutments is projected to be 240 feet long. Bridge Alignment #2 would cross the river approximately 300 feet upstream from the Moores Creek confluence. This bridge alignment has a longer span (592 feet) requiring a single support pier to be placed on an island of river sediment at approximately one half of the span distance. The elevation of the deck of Alignment #2 is projected to be set at 325 feet, which is approximately 25 feet above the normal water level of the river.

Total cost of the project:

Bridge Alignment #1 - $11.3 million

Bridge Alignment #2 - $15.3 million

You can virtually attend the meeting about the study on November 12, from 6pm to 7pm. Event link:


Rivanna River Shared Use Path Bridge Study

Urban Rivanna River Corridor Plan

2014 - Gensic said he and his counterparts in Albemarle County also are planning two bridges to cross the Rivanna River.

“One [would be] between Darden [Towe] Park and Pen Park, and the other from Riverview to Pantops,” Gensic said. “We could not even begin to consider the Pantops bridge until recently when State Farm and the new Martha Jefferson Hospital gave the county some land on their side of the river.”

Gensic said planning is underway for both bridges, each of which will cost at least $2 million. Read more…

2009 - Local officials have long discussed the possibility of building a pedestrian bridge over the Rivanna River that would allow residents to get to Pantops Mountain without battling vehicle traffic on Free Bridge. Read more…

2008- Since around 2003, the idea of crossing the Rivanna with a bike/pedestrian bridge has caught the fancy of planners and engineers. But the site that's garnered the most attention– until now, at least– is a link between Pen and Darden-Towe Parks. Besides the happy symbolism of uniting city and county, such a bridge might allow many park users to abandon the incongruous practice of climbing into a vehicle to reach a park.

While engineering plans for the park-to-park bridge– a planned 600-footer–- have been made by the American Society of Civil Engineers and civil engineering students at UVA, according to retired UVA civil engineering professor David Morris, the $3.5 million project has hit a funding roadblock.

"Between the economy and other more pressing projects, this has been on the back-burner," Morris says.

But city trails planner Chris Gensic says the park-to-park bridge– which could potentially link the parks with the Meadowcreek Parkway trail and connect Route 29 north with Pantops in the future– is now a top priority, although the uncertainty of highway plans complicates its future.

"The wild card is the proposed Eastern Connector," says Gensic. "Do I move forward on a pedestrian bridge if they're going to build a bigger [car] bridge?"

Another priority, he says, is a McIntire Park bicycle/pedestrian bridge that would cross the railroad tracks in the park. "Essentially it's two different parks right now," says Gensic, noting that the McIntire plan was denied federal transportation enhancement money last year. Read more…