4th Street Downtown Mall Crossing
|Downtown Mall Crossing|
1. Improve business on the east end of the Mall.
2. Improve flow of traffic around Mall by replacing crossing removed by Eastern Mall Expansion project
|Cost||No direct costs, costs to rebrick 4th Street SE now part of $7.5 mall revitalization program|
City Council voted 3-2 on April 7, 2008 to make the 4th Street SE crossing permanent. The street will be rebricked as part of the Downtown Mall renovation.
|Contact||Alex Ikefuna, Director, Neighborhood Development Services, Charlottesville|
The 4th Street Downtown Mall Crossing is an intersection allowing vehicular traffic to cross the Downtown Mall at Fourth Street East from north to south. On August 12, 2017, it was the site of the murder of Heather Heyer and wounding of several dozen other peaceful protesters in the car attack by white supremacist James Alex Fields.
|This article documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.|
A petition had been circulated to close the crossing permanently, but was later taken down. 
Ever since a section of Main Street in downtown Charlottesville was closed to vehicular traffic in the 1970s, opening up side streets for crossing of the pedestrian mall has caused a great deal of controversy. The first one was approved in the 1990s allowing drivers to cross south-to-north at 2nd Street W. 
Until 2003, it was possible to cross the mall using 7th Street E, but that was bricked over as part of the Mall's extension.
Decision to create a second crossing
A petition to open a second crossing was brought to Council by the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville in the summer of 2005. They claimed sales were lower at the east end of the mall due to the closure of 7th Street. They also claimed there was no easy route for motorists to get from the Market Street Parking Garage to the Water Street Parking Garage. Council opted to hire a traffic engineering firm to study potential crossings at 4th and 5th Streets. At the same time, the Downtown Transit Center was also being planned. A decision on the crossing was postponed until construction was complete. 
"Our history with the 2nd Street Crossing has helped us understand that there need to be physical changes to the roadway so that cars appreciated they are entering a pedestrian space and that pedestrians understand they are entering a vehicular space," wrote Gary O'Connell in the staff report for the February 21, 2006 public hearing. 
The firm RK&K recommended that 5th street would be the appropriate choice and that north to south would be the appropriate movement. They also recommended that there be two crossings allowing vehicles to circulate. City Planning Commission Bill Lucy countered that opening a second crossing would decrease pedestrian safety, citing his counts that pedestrian traffic had not declined as the merchants had claimed.
The Planning Commission voted 5-2 on January 10, 2006 to recommend against the second crossing. City Manager Gary O'Connell suggested that better signage could solve many of the problems. However, he said if Council did choose to pursue another crossing, 5th Street would be the better choice because of the concurrent construction of the Holsinger Building.  O'Connell also suggested a one-year trial. Twenty-one people spoke at the public hearing, with 11 people speaking in favor of the second crossing and ten speaking against. 
Vote to open
Before the vote in early April, staff recommended that 4th street be the site for the pilot for three reasons. First, it could be done more cost-effectively because of the existing infrastructure. Second, it would continue the alley access between 4th and 5th Street. Third, it would be easiest to implement for the trial period. Staff still recommended 5th street as a permanent location. 
City Council voted 4-1 on April 3 to approve a second vehicular crossing with Councilor Kevin Lynch as the lone vote against. A one-year trial of a north-to-south crossing at 4th Street E began lasting from May 2006 to May 2007. At the time Jim Tolbert, director of the City's Department of Neighborhood Development Services, said staff recommended closing the crossing during Pavilion events and to locate any permanent crossing at 5th Street East.
Keep it open?
After the one-year trial ended, a survey of pedestrians was taken to determine public opinion. Of 532 individuals surveyed, 369 said they supported keeping it open and 163 wanted it removed. The DBAC conducted their own study. There was also another study from RK&K commissioned by the city. The idea to consider 5th Street as the permanent crossing was discarded. 
City Council voted 3-2 on June 18, 2007 to retain the second crossing with the mall, but left open a final decision on which street should be the subject of improvements. Voting for the crossing were David Brown, Kendra Hamilton and Julian Taliaferro. Voting against were Dave Norris and Kevin Lynch.  The matter was referred back to the City Planning Commission who took action on December 11, 2007.
The stated purpose of the 4th Street Downtown Mall Crossing was to:
- Improve business on the east end of the Mall.
- Improve flow of traffic around Mall by replacing crossing removed by Eastern Mall Expansion project
Charlottesville resident Aileen Bartels started an online petition in August 2019 to close the mall for safety reasons, telling NBC29 that she thought more people would visit the mall as a result. However, the idea is opposed by the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville.  The idea of closing the mall was also considered in a $100,000 safety assessment of the mall. 
- Web. C'Ville Woman Creates Petition to Close Fourth Street Crossing to Vehicular Traffic, Carly Kempler, News Article, WVIR NBC29, August 9, 2019, retrieved August 15, 2019.
- Web. Additional Downtown Mall Crossing, Gary O'Connell, Staff Report, City of Charlottesville, February 21, 2006, retrieved August 15, 2019.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, February 21, 2006.
- Web. Downtown Mall Crossing Interim Plan, James Tolbert, Staff Report, City of Charlottesville, April 3, 2006, retrieved August 15, 2019.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, April 3, 2006.
- Web. Downtown Mall Crossing, James Tolbert, City of Charlottesville, June 18, 2007, retrieved August 15, 2019.
- Web. Charlottesville City Council meeting minutes, .pdf, Council Chambers, City of Charlottesville, June 18, 2006.. . Also available in older archive.
- Web. $100,000 for Downtown Mall risk and threat assessment, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, May 22, 2018, retrieved August 15, 2019.