November 16, 2020: City Council to discuss 5th Street traffic study


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The Virginia Department of Health is reporting its highest one-day total of COVID cases this morning, but there’s a caveat. 

“The 2,677 case count reported on Monday, November 16 is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours over the weekend,” reads a statement on the VDH portal, which goes on to direct people to look at the metrics in a different way. 

“In order to observe the spread of illness most effectively, please review the charts that show cases by date of symptom onset,” the statement continues. 

With this new information, the seven day average for new daily cases is now 1,594. 

The seven-day rate for positive tests statewide has increased to 7.3 percent up from 7 percent on Sunday, and 6.1 percent last Monday. 

In the Blue Ridge Health District, there are another 41 cases reported today, with 16 from Charlottesville, 14 from Albemarle, four from Louisa, three from Fluvanna, three from Greene and three from Nelson. The percent positivity for PCR tests in the district increased to 2.7 percent from 2.5 percent Sunday. The percent positivity for all tests is 3.2 percent, up from 3 percent yesterday. 


City Council tonight will discuss options to help reduce speeding on 5th Street, which has been the scene of several fatal accidents in recent years. A petition to change the character of the street now has over 1,400 signatures

One option is to build a roundabout in the middle of a long stretch of a four lane divided highway. The topic also came up at Council’s budget work session on November 12.  (read Duncan’s report)

“That is kind of an interim solution to try and calm some of the traffic and break up the long straightaway that’s there,” said Brennen Duncan, the city’s traffic engineer. “That would go just north of where Bailey us, kind of where the community gardens are today.”

Duncan said the owner of an undeveloped property to the west would be interested in donating land as long as they were able to get vehicular access to the roundabout. He said this is just an idea now and would need further research if Council wanted to move forward. Duncan estimated the roundabout would cost between $3 million and $4 million. In his staff report, Duncan said there are other options to reduce speeds.

“We don’t really have a traffic problem, or a speeding problem for the majority of traffic, but we do have a long straight roadway that will allow people to get up to speed if they choose,” Duncan said. 

Last Thursday Councilors were asked to give staff direction on their appetite for tax increases to pay for increased capital spending, or whether they should make cuts to previously approved programs in order to stay within the city’s debt capacity. Read the first part of this story from Friday’s newscast

However, Council did not make any decisions about what to do because they said they need more information. In summary, the elected officials said they know they will need to make cuts, but need more information about how to proceed. Here’s Vice Mayor Sena Magill. 

"There is no way that we're getting out of this without cutting things that we all care about tremendously," Magill said. 

Council meets later today, but will also meet on Friday to further discuss the budget. 

Those with paid subscriptions will get a more detailed version of this story later on today, and it will be posted on before Friday. 


Today in meetings:


  • The Virginia State Board of Elections meets today at 1 p.m. to certify the election. (agenda)

  • Albemarle County will hold the second of two information meetings for property owners within the scope of the proposed Rio Road form-based zoning code. This virtual meeting begins at noon. This is not the last time we’ll hear about this proposal this week. (meeting info)

  • The Albemarle Architectural Review Board meets at 1 p.m. The only item listed on the agenda is a decision over what blocks in the Brookhill development should come before the panel for review. Brookhill was rezoned in November 2016 and will bring between 600 and 800 homes. This is a good chance to get an update on where the project stands.  (meeting info)

  • Places 29 Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. There will be a presentation entitled “Neighborhood Strength: Lessons from Bamboo Grove”, referring to a recent rezoning in Crozet. Then the group will get updates on the county’s housing policy, and an update on efforts to increase broadband access.  (meeting info)

  • The Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee meets virtually for the first time since the pandemic. They’ll get an update on the “development dashboard” updated by county planners. The Breezy Hill rezoning is not on the agenda, but could conceivably come up in conversation. (meeting info)