01/14/10: “Chat Covers Bridge Issues,” The Free-Lance Star

Chat covers bridge issues

UMW’s Jeff Rountree answered readers’ questions during a Web chat Tuesday about the bridge that will link Eagle Village and UMW’s main campus

By CATHY JETT

Is the new bridge that will connect Eagle Village and the University of Mary Washington’s main campus just for the college community?

Or will city residents feel comfortable using it, too?

And what’s the detour route drivers will need to take when sections of the bridge are swung into place this weekend?

Readers peppered Jeff Rountree, the UMW Foundation’s CEO and president of Eagle Property Holdings, with these and other questions during a Web chat Tuesday.

Here’s a portion of the hourlong conversation. For a full transcript, go here.

Thanks for adding value to both UMW and the community by cleaning up Route 1. It appears you will buy everything from [the old] Putt-Putt down to the gas station across from James Monroe High School, on both sides of the street. Along the way please try to preserve College Heights, as affordable family housing is rare within walking distance of downtown.

You are welcome, and we hope our part of this urban renewal project will spur others to join the party! As far as our footprint (acquisitions) is concerned, we are about done.

Eagle Village–exciting. The bridge–really neat. All looks great. But seems as if the whole development is being walled off from those not connected to UMW. A huge parking deck to the south–a bridge that you can access only from the campus, etc., on the north end gives the impression that this isn’t quite a bridging of the gap between town and gown.

Granted, you are paying for it! But seems as if all the retail/restaurants planned for the development might not be very inviting to city residents. That is, anyone could walk into the Eagle’s Nest and order a sandwich and a soda, but it’d be pretty awkward if you weren’t a student.

This seems like a really cool project–but as a resident of College Heights, I don’t feel any connection to it at all anymore. Is that intentional? Is Phase I intended for only the campus community? Thanks for taking time to take questions.

I would advise you to wait until the construction fencing and temporary walls are down. Everything is wide open and designed for easy–but safe–access. The few walls we have are to keep folks separated from the highway. Once completed, I think you will like it, and the walkway to the bridge goes right up to the city sidewalk, so [it will be] much easier to access than our current Campus Walk.

When will pedestrians be able to cross over the bridge?

For safety reasons, once the site is open to the public, probably in early August.

Where will the detour for getting past the bridge construction be?

The city has posted maps on this. Link to road closure info and maps of detours: bit.ly/8NEZHH

With the existence of the bridge, will the current crosswalk be eliminated both in markings and in light timing? If eliminated, will barriers or some form of pedestrian indicator be erected indicating crossing is not allowed?

Like all public streets, U.S. 1 will still have a crosswalk. You may have noticed they added timers recently, but it will be much safer to use the bridge.

The bridge will be a pretty obvious landmark. How much should we all expect to see hanging from the bridge for events and holidays and such? I’m sure the temptation to do such will be overwhelming for collegiate events as well as local events. I wonder about the potential levels of distraction from what is, in reality, billboard space.

The bridge is fully enclosed on the sides (glass), bottom and top so there will be no way to hang anything off the bridge. I agree with you. We want to keep it clean and nice-looking 24/7 as this will be a main entry point for the city as a whole, not just UMW.

What will be done as far as security?

Both UMW police and city police have control of the space. We also have a very sophisticated camera system all over the new portion of Eagle Village, and lighting will be good in that area.

Does UMW plan to build a similar bridge over William Street to connect the campus to the old Marye’s Heights apartments, which are now upperclassmen dorms? If so, when will this happen?

Good question, and this bridge will be the ultimate test! We [UMW Foundation] also own the Marye’s Heights Apartments, and I have always liked the idea of a bridge for safety reasons. Like everything we do, however, it would have to be a first-class structure as the character of William Street would be important to protect.

Any word on what is happening with the Giant in Eagle Village?

I will be meeting with the senior VPs again within the month. Stay tuned.

When will the first stores be open in Eagle Village?

The “shells” for the new retailers will be delivered in May. At that point, the retailers build out their own spaces, and we hope to see some openings by September, maybe earlier.

Will the bridge will be accessible for individuals on bicycles?

You bet, and encouraged. It will be all grade, no steps.

What are the nighttime lighting expectations for the bridge? I would assume lighting would be required for safety reasons, yet a balance is needed to ensure vehicular traffic is not blinded or distracted.

As the floor is solid, the interior lighting in the bridge will not be a factor to traffic below. The lighting plan was reviewed by VDOT, and they are fine with the plan. The decorative exterior elements will be lit.


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Published: January 14, 2010 by The Free Lance-Star


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