BoS Holds Surprise Vote on Bypass Bypass

The Board of Supervisors voted to end its block on funding of the Western Bypass late Wednesday night, Sean Tubbs writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow, require a suspension of the rules to avoid informing the public about the vote in advance. Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton called Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier—the swing vote—and told him that the state would provide all necessary funding for the bypass bypass, liable to cost somewhere near a quarter of a billion dollars. Connaughton emphasizes that the funding is promised only for the very alignment that is currently proposed, and not any variants. (Note that no funding has actually been allocated to the project, and the state’s road network is disastrously underfunded, but $3B in transportation bonds could be used to pay for this on credit.) The vote was 4-2, with Dennis Rooker and Ann Mallek dissenting.

By way of reminder, this proposed 29 bypass will bypass our existing 29 bypass, functioning as a bypass bypass. We built the existing bypass to route around the built-up area of 29, but didn’t put any sort of a moratorium on development along the 29 corridor. Decades later, the bypass is now a handy way to get around town, but it doesn’t really bypass anything anymore. The proposed bypass bypass would start just north of Walmart, running next to the reservoir, paralleling Hydraulic and Georgetown, and connect to the bypass between the Barracks Road and Ivy exits. Of course, this was all designed prior to any of the development north of Walmart, such as Forest Lakes, Hollymead Town Center, the expansion of Ruckersville, etc. There’s also the matter of the 2005 study that found that the bypass bypass would have virtually no impact on reducing traffic on 29, since nearly all of the traffic on 29 originates or ends within the area that would be bypassed, and would save only about a minute of travel time for traffic using the bypass. A decade ago, some national group did the the math and figured out that, mile for mile, the six-mile bypass would be the nation’s most expensive road.

What we’re really seeing here is Charlottesville becoming a part of a statewide transportation debate, with us cast as the bad guys, and Lynchburg and Southside cast as the long-suffering victims. Lynchburg’s newspaper editorializes periodically about how their economy would be humming along brilliantly, if only Charlottesville wasn’t in the way of people driving there. There’s an old story—probably an urban legend—about how Route 64 wound up running through Charlottesville, rather than Lynchburg, and it involves Lynchburg’s winding up getting the short end of the political stick over a more powerful Charlottesville senator, and something about JFK. The matter of the Western Bypass, then, is seen as a continuation of the unjust treatment of Lynchburg at the hands of Charlottesville. Unsurprisingly, Lynchburg Senator Steve Newman is taking some credit for the BoS’s action, saying that he talked to Connaughton in February and walked away sure that Connaughton was going to get this road built.

As a practical matter, we have to pick: we can either have a bypass bypass or we can continue to develop 29 north (and south) of the two termini of the new road. But we can’t do both, or else the sixty seconds being saved by this bypass will quickly be rounded down to zero seconds.

49 Responses to “BoS Holds Surprise Vote on Bypass Bypass”


  • I sure do love the Lynchburg and Danville bypasses. A huge improvement. Not sure how a non-stop highway will be only 60 seconds faster than running the 29N gauntlet.

    A curious note: do you know that the perfect speed to catch nothing but green lights on a low traffic day on 29 from Hydraulic to walmart is….58 MPH. They have the lights set at 13 MPH over the speed limit.

  • Another irony- the fiscally conservative McDonnell administration wants to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a road that accomplishes next to nothing. Has anyone counted how many stop lights will be avoided versus how many wouldn’t. I’ll bet Waldo’s right; it will amount to a couple of minutes of saved time for the people from Lynchburg and points south.

    And once Wendell builds his shopping mall next to the northern terminus, well, that will be at least another 3 stop lights to add to all the rest the Lynchburgians will be stopping at ( before they come to the bypass )

    If McDonnell does squander our money on this – bet this will come back to bite him if he tries to run for national office.

  • I’ll bet Waldo’s right; it will amount to a couple of minutes of saved time for the people from Lynchburg and points south.

    FWIW, this isn’t my assertion—this was from a study conducted by some governmental unit (I forget which) maybe 5-8 years ago. Unfortunately, when the Progress nuked their archives, the story disappeared from the internet. But I do remember the time saved hovered right around 60 seconds. I’ll be grateful if anybody could turn up a citation! (And then we’ll know how good my memory is for this. :)

  • Where would the northern terminus be? North or south of airport Rd?

  • “The proposed bypass bypass would start just north of Walmart, running next to the reservoir, paralleling Hydraulic and Georgetown, and connect to the bypass between the Barracks Road and Ivy exits.”

    Way south of Airport Road.

  • I always thought there was a bridge over the reservoir involved in this. So its not actually a bypass of Forest Lakes, Hollymead, North Pointe, NGIC, or any of the hell that developers want to turn Ruckersville into? And the same people pushing for it are letting stoplights sprout like dandelions along 29N?

  • As a city resident, I’d like to point out that this whole discussion about the Western Bypass has literally nothing to do with the City of Charlottesville. Lynchburgers and Danvillagers like to demonize C’ville for being the sole source of their economic woes because of the traffic on 29, but the fact is that the theoretical Western Bypass is 100% in Albemarle County.

    This may seem like a minor semantic issue, but I often get the sense that the politicians in the counties south of us find the City of Charlottesville to be a convenient scapegoat simply because we’re politically liberal. Sorry, guys; it’s the real estate developers who run Albemarle who are responsible for the traffic problems on 29, not us tree-hugging, dirt-eating Druids in the city. Work it out amongst yourselves.

  • I wonder what if anything the scheme for a Western Bypass might have to do with the push for building a huge dam on another reservoir instead of dredging the one along its path. If the un-dredged reservoir were abandoned as a water source, I’m suspecting that some lucrative development opportunities that might not otherwise exist would suddenly become available.

    It would be interesting to see who owns land that would significantly increase in value due to a combination of an abandoned reservoir and conveniently located exits from a Western Bypass.

  • Perhaps years ago the study found a 60 second savings. But anyone making a drive from the Ivy exit to Walmart on a friday night hits every stop light. Figure 30 seconds each just sitting and burning gas. And when Stonehenge gets built at Hydraulic that will go form a Friday night 2 light wait until who knows. That has to be 7-8 stoplights. I am guessing that at rushhour we are talking 8-9 minutes to clear this area vs. 90 seconds.

    That said, it is a joke to dump more money into debt for a bypass that will really have to go north of Hollymead to really make sense, unless one just wants to find ways to pump more debt into the economy in search of the promised 8% unemployment…

    But I am one of those who thinks a bit strange about these things. Dont spend what you dont have.

    Had Albemarle/State/whoever planned better and established frontage roads when they tore down all the median trees on 29N to make 4 lanes each way it would be a moot point. Two lanes for the through traffic and one lane frontage.

  • Pete brings up a very important point, but I’d also add that we’re not only demonized by the counties south of us, but also the counties to the north, and most notably the one that surrounds us. There’s often the impression that they consider it an important part of their mission to school the godless tree-huggers and welfare recipients that they feel populate our fair city.

    I find it noteworthy that the County complains that the City has been obstructionist re the Meadowcreek Parkway, even though they haven’t yet built their own eastern connector or western bypass. Bit hypocritical, that. If they want to address the source of all that traffic, they need look no further than their own doorstep in the form of irresponsible planning driven by the growth lobby.

  • The county, up until now had never agreed to build the Western Bypass. The City of Charlottesville had agree to build the Meadowcreek Parkway. That’s why the County built their very soon to be connected part.

    Just because both involves road doesn’t mean Ablemarle being a hypocrite but there is no question that Charlottesville is breaking their word on the parkway.

    If the road won’t work at all then why is the state spend $250 million on it? Just to keep Lynchburg happy? I don’t think so.

  • If the road won’t work at all then why is the state spend $250 million on it? Just to keep Lynchburg happy? I don’t think so.

    Well, yeah. That’s precisely how a great deal of money is allocated, especially on the federal level, but also on the state level. Enormous sums of money are routinely awarded for purpose of making elected officials look good. We call this “pork.” On the federal level, much of it is provided through the earmark process. Why in the world would the government spend $398M for a bridge to serve a population of fifty people? It’s called the “Gravina Island Bridge,” which you may know as “The Bridge to Nowhere.” That’s a particularly spectacular example, but the fact is that every year congress authorizes spending on many dozens of project of dubious merit, almost always in the districts of powerful congressmen. We have a spoils based system—that’s the reality of our political process.

    Also, I’ve found tertiary sources from a few years ago (including me) who described the time saved by the western bypass as ninety seconds, rather than sixty. I’m not going to correct this blog entry based on that, because it’s mixed in with claims of sixty—I’m waiting until I find an original or secondary source that will give an exact number and the name of the entity that conducted the study.

  • If the road won’t work at all then why is the state spend $250 million on it? Just to keep Lynchburg happy? I don’t think so.

    On reflection, intellectual honesty demands that I respond to this question in substance, rather than merely in the abstract. That is, would such a thing be done just to keep Lynchburg happy? I think that’s an important question.

    I am personally dubious that the state is actually prepared to allocate this funding. I drove to and from D.C. on Wednesday and Friday, and to and from Baltimore last weekend. The roads upstate are atrocious. Beyond the traffic, I mean that the actual quality of the road surface is awful. “Third-world country” is perhaps putting too fine a point on it, but they’re definitely vehicle-damaging. The state’s political power has been moving north and east for the past few decades, and redistricting has only strengthened that trend. If we figure that this $3B in bond “income” is functionally the entire pool for money for road construction (which isn’t too far off), then spending almost 10% of that money on a 6-mile road for Lynchburg seems like an awfully tough thing for VDOT to justify. I have to imagine that they’re going to come under a huge amount of pressure to spend that in Hampton Roads or upstate.

    Let’s consider Lynchburg’s power. Lynchburg is represented by just three legislators: Del. Kathy Byron (R), Del. Scott Garrett (R), and Sen. Steve Newman (R). Scott Garrett is a freshman, having defeated freshman incumbent Del. Shannon Valentine—a Democrat and a friend of mine—two years ago. But Byron has been in office for 13 years, and Garrett for 15, so they’ve got some seniority. Newman is in the Democratic Senate, but Byron is in the Republican House, so her seniority actually counts for something. All three are up for reelection this November. Garrett, having just unseated a Democrat, will need something to shore up his odds of reelection, although that’s probably not hugely important to state Republicans, since they hold a healthy majority in the House of Delegates. On the other hand, both Newman and Garrett are on their respective chambers’ Transportation committees, which counts for a lot. Perhaps even more important, both Byron and Garrett are on the House Finance Committee. So this trio, while perhaps not ideal (none of them are chairs of either committee, for instance), looks pretty well suited to influence the spending of transportation dollars. And they’ll get the credit. Just today, the Lynchburg News & Advance editorialized about this, naming Newman first in their list of people who they think deserve credit for this. To the extent to which the governor controls this funding—and I know nothing about that—then he’s surely look for some wins for Republicans to point to and to credit him for, in which case he’s bound to be pushing for this to shore up support in the Lynchburg area.

    On the other hand, Lynchburg is a speck on the electoral map compared to many other localities. (As is Charlottesville.) Consider Fairfax. It has seventeen members of the House of Delegates and nine members of the Senate. (You can get the list on Wikipedia.) The Senate Transportation committee is chaired by Yvonne Miller (D), of Norfolk. The House Transportation committee is chaired by Joe May (R), of Clarke and Loudoun. They’re probably not real psyched to see 10% of the state’s transportation dollars turned over to Albemarle County.

    In brief, I think it’s possible that Lynchburg’s Richmond delegation has the political power to pull this off, but I’m dubious that they can.

  • I think it’s relevant that we’re not talking about a quarter of a billion that Virginia taxpayers have given, but a quarter of a billion that future taxpayers will have to cover as they pay off the bonds. This is money we don’t have. The funding is coming from ASSUMED future federal gas taxes, which also assumes that oil will remain cheap and that advancements in fuel-efficiency will not depreciate the revenue generation potential from this source. Both dubious assumptions.

    So not only will future generations (or us in 20 years) be tasked with maintaining our highways, they will now have to figure out a way to pay for their original construction. But maybe that minute of travel savings for bypassing the portion of the 29 corridor will send our economy into the stratosphere and we’ll all be laughing about how we used to fret about hundreds of millions of dollars. Let’s assume so.

  • I’m curious as to how this will come to fruition. Look at the Meadowcreek Pkwy. It is being built and there are still folks who seem willing to do anything short of laying in front of a bulldozer to stop it.
    I was a long-time proponent of a bypass, but the northern terminus was shortsighted 20 years ago. As an intersection with “Business 29″ it would be fine, but I think that the traffic is just as bad north of that point as it is to the south.
    There is more to this than economy, as Lburg’s unemployment rate is just a percent short of Cville’s. I would think that if Lynchburg and Danville leaders pushed to have 29 upgraded and re-designated as I-785 from Amherst to Greensboro (already happening from Danville south), the change in the traffic patterns would end up necessitating a major bypass of Cville (ending north of Ruckersville).
    Why wouldn’t a “bypass of a bypass” through Cville and Albemarle get a good bit of local use? Half of the Lynchburg bypass is a “bypass of a bypass” and it gets a plenty of local use. It has also not stunted the growth of the areas within its bounds; Lynchburg city saw greater than 15% growth over the last ten years, and while most of the region saw population growth, little of it occurred at either end of the bypass.
    This was all debated when gas was much cheaper and our economy was humming. Now gas has tripled and the economy has soured. Heck, its a federal highway and the government can’t even take care of what it has already, so this whole issue should be on the back burner- not off the stove, but on a back burner.

  • Why wouldn’t a “bypass of a bypass” through Cville and Albemarle get a good bit of local use?

    Albemarle County did a study of vehicular traffic on 29N through the corridor in question and found that 67% of all traffic on 29N begins and ends between the proposed start and end of the bypass. So, right there, we can rule out benefit to two thirds of traffic. Likewise, any trip that merely starts or ends between the proposed start and end of the bypass is also quite certainly not going to benefit from the bypass, and I’d put money on that taking the number up from 67% to up towards 90%.

    Because, really, who among Albemarle and Charlottesville residents is going on 29S? That won’t even get you to Scottsville—there’s virtually no reason to drive there. The population is vanishingly slim on 29S, and other than Dr. Ho’s etc. at the crossroads, there are virtually no businesses that people would be going to.

    Thanks for joining this conversation, Tom! As a Lynchburger (Lynchburg…ian?), your perspective here is valuable.

  • Waldo,

    There are lots of local people who would use this bypass. In fact the whole southern side of the City would use it to get to Walmart and points North. I’m not taking sides on whether to build it or not, but it would become a local road for many as a way to bypass 29 from the University area to north of Walmart.

    @county mountie. The county did agree to build the Western ByPass, as part of the 3 Party Agreement. Others I have talked to since Dorrier changed his vote feel since Meadowcreek Parkway is underway it’s time for the rest of that plan to be implemented, even if it’s not perfect.
    A link for history buffs.

    http://www.roadstothefuture.com/US29_Charlottesville_Bypass.html

    I found this from the above link quite insightful

    The Route 29 Bypass: A Rational View

    By Mr. H. Carter Myers, III, Culpeper District representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board (he retired from the CTB in April 2002, after serving 8 years). Published in the Charlottesville newspaper The Daily Progress. Provided to me by a member of the North Charlottesville Business Council, who told me that this is not copyrighted material and that Mr. Myers desires for it to be distributed freely. Verbatim copy follows (blue text):

    The Route 29 By-pass: A Rational View

    The History

    Rt.29 is a strategic north-south transportation corridor from North Carolina to Gainesville. It is also a critical artery serving local commuters, shoppers, airport traffic and our fastest growing areas. Traffic volume in certain sections reaches 60,000 vehicles per day.

    For nearly 25 years, our community has painfully searched to find a balance between the statewide and regional needs of a Rt. 29 “throughway” and the impacts on the local land, the environment, property values and our quality of life.

    After studying approximately 27 possible road locations in the City and County, it was determined that the one with the least impacts, most direct path, and least cost was Alternative 10, (“Rt. 29 Western By-pass”).

    While this location has been criticized for many reasons, there were good reasons why this route was selected.

    Selecting the Alternatives

    First, all eastern routes and routes through the City were ruled out because of impacts to Monticello, costs, special easement conflicts, or substantial impacts to developed property.

    Second, the far western routes, while more in the form of a “true by-pass,” all crossed appreciably more of the Rivanna watershed and crossed the Reservoir, impacted more rural land, farms and subdivisions, cost more, and faced greater public opposition.

    Third, the “Expressway” concept of a depressed four-lane road built down the middle of the current Rt. 29 North, with service roads for local traffic, was eliminated because of the significant cost, traffic confusion and impacts of building through this densely developed commercial section.

    The Western By-pass, the shortest and least expensive, was selected and approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in 1990 following a location public hearing and the issuance of an approved Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) Environmental Impact Statement.

    The Advantages of the Selected Route

    It was selected on the basis of the following:

    I. This route does not cross the reservoir and has the shortest path (only 3.4 miles) in the watershed.

    2. This was the least costly of the alternatives. While still costly, other than the delay, extra reservoir protection, and other community accommodation, there is nothing unusual that adds to cost other than bridges and rolling land.

    3. Because of its close proximity, this route gives the most local benefit and diverts the most local traffic from the existing Rt. 29 North. If built today, approximately 15,000 vehicles would be diverted from the existing Rt. 29 North (approximately 25% of the current traffic). Travel would be uninterrupted from the Rt. 29-250 By-pass to Route 29 north of the Rivanna River.

    4. It will serve traffic going to the University for employee parking, game traffic and the proposed new basketball arena. Improving mobility in the City at the Hydraulic Rd. intersection, the Rt. 250 / 29 By-pass ramp, along Emmett St, and on Ivy Road will be a substantial benefit.

    5. Being the shortest route with no interchanges, it will have little impact on growth and development. While VDOT questioned the decision not to put an interchange at Hydraulic Rd., Albemarle County’s request was honored.

    6. Schools are not being affected. For purposes of comparison, St. Anne’s Belfield Lower School is closer to the current Rt. 29-250 By-pass than any school would be to the Western Bypass. In fact, Agnor-Hurt Elementary, the County school nearest the Bypass route, was built by Albemarle County after the location was chosen.

    7. The safety of the traveling public will be improved. Accident records historically show that a highway interrupted with traffic signals and unlimited access results in a greater number of accidents and deaths.

    Twenty Five Years of Debate is Long Enough

    Some have suggested we stop the By-pass. Unfortunately, we can’t stop the need for a limited access route around Rt. 29. Even if we abandon the current project, we would need to begin a new search for a new route immediately. This would put new areas of the City and County back on the option table, and create a cloud over all property in the area. It would be a terrible situation to again put our citizens through.

    There have been several debated alternatives. One contemplated building three grade-separated interchanges on Rt. 29 North at the intersections of Hydraulic Rd., Greenbrier Dr. and Rio Rd. In the mid ’90s, VDOT spent $750,000 studying these interchanges. The plans, impacts, costs and benefits of these interchange projects were taken to a public information meeting and a meeting with the City and County officials. The City rejected the idea of an interchange at Hydraulic and withdrew its support.

    While there would be a slight benefit for “through” traffic by the elimination of the three signalized intersections on the current Rt. 29 North, there would still be at least seven signal lights along with confusing and busy interchange ramps.

    In 1995 the CTB voted to terminate the grade separation project. It used the remaining funds to build sidewalks and landscape the current Rt. 29 and moved the balance of the funding to the Western By-pass.

    Proposals to move the north/south “through traffic” to an upgraded Rt.15 at Zion’s Crossroads in lieu of building the Western By-pass have not proven feasible. Diverting north/south traffic sixteen miles to the east on I-64 and getting approval for road widening through the Greensprings Historical District of Louisa are not viable options.

    The truth is, we are way down the road toward completing this project. For example:
    è All design work and related costs except for the northern terminus have been funded and completed.
    è Substantially all the property required to build the road has been purchased except for the northern and southern ends. All homes and the old SPCA have been acquired.
    è All environmental impacts have been assessed and the FWHA has approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

    Time to Move On

    In closing, while no route is perfect, the current location of the Western By-pass will have positive benefits to our community and to the citizens traveling through Central Virginia. In fact, a 1995 survey of 625 local residents indicated support for the project by almost three to one.

    From an environmental perspective, our reservoir will have more protection than any other in Virginia (I-64 crosses directly over the Newport News reservoir). All environmental impacts have been studied and will be appropriately mitigated. Extensive and thorough reservoir protection has been built into the design features. Spill protection, retention ponds, retaining walls, storm water and silt detention and filtration are all designed into the project.

    From an economic perspective, it is important to note that our neighbors are moving ahead. Danville now has its by-pass. The Lynchburg-Madison Heights By-pass is under construction. All cities and towns from North Carolina to I-66 will soon have a Rt. 29 By-pass with the exception of Charlottesville.

    Finally, from a historical perspective, it is interesting to note that the same type of debate took place 50 years ago when the functional and attractive Rt. 250 By-pass was proposed and built. No road could be nicer looking and more beneficial to this community.

    It is time to bring this twenty-five year debate to a close, bring our community back together and move on to look at other transportation needs of our community.

  • There are lots of local people who would use this bypass. In fact the whole southern side of the City would use it to get to Walmart and points North. I’m not taking sides on whether to build it or not, but it would become a local road for many as a way to bypass 29 from the University area to north of Walmart.

    I think that’s a fair point, as a use case I’d never considered, probably because it seems like a pretty convoluted route for a lot of people, but perhaps faster! For instance, somebody who lives at Mill Creek could cross Avon Extended, take Mill Creek Dr. to 20, get on 64W, get on the 29 bypass, get on the 29 bypass bypass, and then get off on 29 business and head south to Walmart. The best-case scenario for folks south of town, I assume, is going 64 -> bypass -> bypass bypass -> 29N.

  • Carter Myers — the car dealer? No, no conflict of interest there when arguing to build more roads.

    (The historically mindful will remember that he got appointed to this position on the CTB after getting defeated at the ballot box v. Sally Thomas, a write-in-candidate. At least that’s my memory of the affair.)

  • Walt R, it would interest me to know what points in Mr. Myers statement you disagree with. I am neither pro nor con Western ByPass, but I do recognize the need for roads to accommodate county growth.

  • fdr (fred, not franklin)

    Albermarle should encourage some commercial growth just south of the city and I-64 so people from south/east/ and western sections of the county can stay off of Rt 29N and shop closer to home.

    Rt 20 could be four laned with no commercial growth zoning and be a far better bypass by connecting into Rt 29 somewhere near Culpepper and then connecting it to the interstate directly just east of Pantops.

  • fdr (fred, not franklin)

    Waldo, that alternative use case is not, “head south to Wal-Mart”, but head north to Target and all the other sprawl that Albermarle and Greene are building on Rt 29N that is simply making it even worse.

  • fdr, that’s a far better alternative, but I have heard that so much land along 20 is under easement, and funds are so tight that it is impractical.

  • Waldo- A bypass plan with full interchanges at both ends would be used locally; plenty of people will opt for a freeway even if they have to backtrack a bit, simply to avoid the stop and go. I question the findings of the Places29 group; wasn’t that where the Ruckersville Parkway idea came from? Might as well commision a study by the SELC. I have seen “studies” that find residents are overwhelmingly against the bypass, but there seems to be plenty of support for it outside of the Sierra Club and the SELC.
    No matter… the north end will be a mess and the government is having some issues with its budget, so if I had a vote, I’d say wait a while and plan a bit more for the future.

  • Valuable or not, I weigh in because the future of US 29 has an impact on people all along the corridor. It isn’t just Lynchburg officials who are pushing for this bypass, but they seem to make the most noise. One day I’ll have to ask Steve Newman why the northern terminus is never recognized as being a problem; one would think that would be a deal breaker without a better plan for northbound traffic, especially if the goal is to get the poor downtrodden southern folks up to DC.

  • Waldo,

    Even if there was a long ago study that said this ByPass would not be used locally, you and your bloggers can’t even find that information, which tells me, it’s time for it to be redone. Given the continued back-ups on 29 near the City limits, and the new, soon to be built, Stonefield development, this may now be a road that is more local than long distance.

    Once this segment is done the state may need to begin land acquisition for another section to ByPass the development on the northern end, if there is no local willpower to curb the stop and go.

  • I question the findings of the Places29 group; wasn’t that where the Ruckersville Parkway idea came from?

    Nope.

    Even if there was a long ago study that said this ByPass would not be used locally, you and your bloggers can’t even find that information, which tells me, it’s time for it to be redone.

    It may be true that it needs to be redone, but the Progress nuked their archives just about 18 months ago, IIRC—the fact that news can’t be found online in no way means that the information carried by it has cease to be relevant.

  • The Ruckersville Pkwy idea was floated by Mitch Van Yahres AFTER he left office and only THEN announced that it was time to do something to bypass the mess on Rt 29 – (after he fought the Western Bypass for so long) It was an original idea, but not well coordinated with other parts of the locale (i.e. Greene). We need to get on with the plan that’s on the books that VDOT has agreed to pay for, not delay and start over and study it to death (again). If we wait for “perfect”, Rt 29 will become the parking lot for the Strip Mall USA that is Rt 29 North…..

  • How can a legitimate news organization nuke their archives, that is unbelievable and would cause one to wonder why ?

    Waldo, I agree the study may still be relevant, so I hope someone has a copy somewhere. But much has changed since that time and one switch is- those who fought the Western ByPass argued that it came too close to the Reservoir at South Fork. These same folks have fought and won approval of a 50 year water plan that runs the new water supply reservoir at Ragged Mountain under I64 without a peep of protest, and allows the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to silt in with no plan to maintain it for future water supply.

  • @LocalResident: Others I have talked to since Dorrier changed his vote feel since Meadowcreek Parkway is underway it’s time for the rest of that plan to be implemented, even if it’s not perfect.

    You mean the part of the three-party agreement on a plan that would, in this order (…I’m going on memory here):

    1. grow wisely, restricting the proliferation of new access points to Rt 29. Acquire properties for grade-separated interchanges.

    2. build the grade-separated interchanges.

    3. and then build a bypass if still necessary

  • The county and city do not support the grade separated interchange (although I think that was the best solution) and the city has historically supported the Western ByPass, and now the county does as well, and the state is willing to pay for it plus other transportation improvements in the county. Sounds like this may be the best compromise we can hope for and not be left with only the Meadowcreek Parkway as a way for 29traffic to get to 64 by cutting through the City.

  • So commitment to the holy plan is void, and we’re then left with new politics and new traffic realities, and thus the need to craft a new plan.

    You said it was time to implement the “rest of the plan.” What plan would that be?

  • Well, I would say the rest of the plan that the City and County can agree too and that can be funded expeditiously.

  • Does anybody know what trucks are carrying to/from/through Lynchburg:

    a) when the studies were done a decade or so ago?

    b) now?

    c) in the fantasy-growth scenario of the Lynchburg-area Chamber of Commerce types?

    I gather from reading and watching that complaints about the effectiveness of Rt. 29 for handling traffic is mostly, if not exclusively, about freight trucks.

  • Can’t seem to get any information from our Super, Mr. Boyd, leader of the pack on these late night votes, on the bypass and why do it when widely thought to be a big expense for little benefit. Most of comments above make these points. He doesn’t ask for the opinion of those who live on 29 north. On other issues has been totally prodevelopment even when the locals have been vocally against it. Recent flip flops and town meetings and related nonsense come to mind – hard to get this guy pinned down on anything. Has accomplished zero on 29 north during 6 years – except getting Hollymead built, without promised green space, pedestrain access and environmental controls. Trust me, he says. I don’t think so. Trust is earned by results and process, both lacking here. Enough.

  • Waldo, I agree the study may still be relevant, so I hope someone has a copy somewhere. But much has changed since that time and one switch is- those who fought the Western ByPass argued that it came too close to the Reservoir at South Fork.

    I definitely don’t want to ignore this point—a lot has changed. Hollymead Town Center is Exhibit A. I can’t claim to know whether those changes would collectively weigh more or less in favor of the western bypass, but I do think that they add up to some important changes in the human settlement and transit patterns in the affected area.

  • No one has yet taken up my question, which was offered sincerely, but I might be able to answer it with a few off-the-cuff observations.

    Lynchburg’s economy has grown in the last decade, despite the “problem” of 29N. Its politicians bally-ho this. So has that of Charlottesville/Albemarle.

    So what is Lynchburg’s argument? What is getting shipped in and out that is facing some kind of purported surcharge for 29 traffic and that holding back Lynchburg’s economy from some Chamber of Commerce dream?

    Do their Chick-Fil-A sandwiches cost more than in Charlottesville? Do flat-screens at Walmart?

    Would the elimination of this particular added cost of 29N traffic suddenly make furniture manufacturers or whatever flock to set up shop in Lynchburg rather than China or increasingly Vietnam and Cambodia and the Marshall Islands?

    Finally — and mostly — what about rail for freight? Check out Norfolk Southern’s tracks. Where do Lynchburg’s “exports” need to go that aren’t served more efficiently by rail?

    I think there’s just a bunch of dumb regional politics going on.

  • @Local Resident – “Has anyone counted how many stop lights will be avoided versus how many wouldn’t.”
    As a supposed ‘local resident’ you could easily figure that out. Let’s travel south from the stoplight at the Rio Mills/Polo Ground intersection, the one near where Rt. 29 crosses the Rivanna River. That’s about where the bypass would start. Going South…

    Let me count the stoplights:
    1) Walmart
    2) Schewel’s Furniture
    3) Woodbrook Drive
    4) Albermarle Square
    5) Rio
    6) Fashion Square entrance 1
    7) Fashion Square entrance 2
    8) Waffle House/Food Lion
    9) Greenbrier
    10) Seminole Square
    11) Hydraulic
    12) KFC/BestBuy

    Currently those are the stoplights the road would bypass. Those are the stoplights to be avoided.

    Versus what? Are there stoplights not being avoided?

  • @Waldo

    I disagree with this part of your original post – “There’s also the matter of the 2005 study that found that the bypass bypass would have virtually no impact on reducing traffic on 29, since nearly all of the traffic on 29 originates or ends within the area that would be bypassed, and would save only about a minute of travel time for traffic using the bypass.”

    Have you tried to look at that source data recently? You link to a your own 2005 blog entry that itself gives two sources through links. The “Places29″ link goes to a blank Albermarle County page. The other link to the Daily Progress that says ‘page not found’.

    So, can you put an updated link to your credible source perhaps?
    -
    Even so,
    Let’s be realistic. Would we save only a minute using a bypass vs. going through the 11 stoplights I listed in my previous post? I’ve seen the south turn lane back up to the Post Office. Waiting 5 stoplight cycles is more than one minute.

    Isn’t a major reason for this bypass to move 18-wheeler traffic away from that bypassed section of road?
    That is not all local traffic.

    What about improved safety along the bypassed section?
    Have you ever tried to walk or bike between the Emmet St. Bodos and Walmart?

  • Walt R has an interesting line of though going with regard to why Lynchburg feels they need this road so badly. Anyone who heads South on 29 knows that there is no where near the same amount of traffic as north of C’ville, I’d say 20% (??) and that is reduced again by at least half by the time you pass the Crossroads store intersection.

    I agree that 29N can be a mess, but certainly that is focused during three time periods (morning rush hour, lunch and evening rush hour?). The road is open 24 hours. Any business that relies on shaving 30 minutes off of shipping time (Is Lynchburg exporting sushi?) can easily find alternative times when their trucks will pass quickly through C’ville.

    Folks will use this road if it is built. However, that in itself is not a good enough reason to spend $250 million dollars when are government in swimming in debt.

  • @DDD: Let’s be realistic. Would we save only a minute using a bypass vs. going through the 11 stoplights I listed in my previous post? I’ve seen the south turn lane back up to the Post Office. Waiting 5 stoplight cycles is more than one minute.

    Well, if we’re offering up anecdotal evidence, I drove up 29N from 250Bypass to Lowe’s (which is, what, one stop light short of the proposed terminal for the proposed bypass?) yesterday at 2:00 PM and encountered only one red light. I waited about a minute.

  • @WaltR
    That’s a fair observation. At times I’ve also zoomed through all the lights I mentioned. I also have waited endlessly for 2-3 light cycles at times. It would be better to get an average time of many vehicles, not individual experiences; some sort of measurable data. Anecdotal evidence is not fact.

    Still, Waldo’s links to the study don’t work, so while I believe him, I want to see the data he cites.

    And – I don’t think you would save 60 seconds on average. Or do you include 10pm to 6am?

  • Still, Waldo’s links to the study don’t work, so while I believe him, I want to see the data he cites.

    FWIW, I completely agree with you: I believe me, too, but I want to see the data! :)

  • Excellent cover story in this week’s Hook on this topic.

    http://www.readthehook.com/91627/fast-track-how-western-bypass-went-overdrive

  • Isn’t a major reason for this bypass to move 18-wheeler traffic away from that bypassed section of road?
    That is not all local traffic.

    How about spending the full cost of the bypass instead on improvements to 29N (again, those damn grade-separated interchanges) and on getting freight onto rail (cheaper, greener — and thus small-c conservative).

  • Nalle- Maybe the supporters in the south see the lack of traffic between Lynchburg and Charlottesville as something that should increase. There is no shortage of communities around the country that would like to see improved highway access. Cville has the ability to get plenty of state and federal money to prime the economic pumps; most cities don’t get this benefit, so they are always looking to build their economic portfolio by making their region more attractive to business. Lynchburg has been successful despite its issues with access; Danville, not so much.

    WaltR- Freight to rail is more economical but it will be years before short hauls are handled this way (and maybe never). As it is, 7 to 8 trains roll through Cville and Lburg loaded with trailers; most go between Atlanta and Front Royal or Harrisburg. A distribution center or large manufacturer might ship bulk products or raw material by rail, but most goods end up going to or coming from places other than Atlanta or Harrisburg.

    All the folks that think that there is no economic value to improved highway access should ask why so many other places across the country take an opposite position (just Google highway economic development). You can argue until you are blue, but business leaders inside and outside of Cville will continue to pursue this and after they get this part done, they will look at other sections of the highway to improve. They have already mapped another 10-12 mile section of 29 just south of Lynchburg to bypass. My guess is that economic and business leaders would love to see some of the heavy traffic diverted from I-81 to an improved US 29. I’d venture to say that Cville is one of the few places that would have such outlandish battles over roads; someone is already suing over the Meadowcreek Pkwy again. What a hoot!

  • @tomr, nobody is arguing that the Bypass Bypass would provide *zero* benefit. It’s just that the cost-benefit ratio is abysmal. VDOT doesn’t even have enough money to maintain what it already has, and now they want to spend $250 million on a road that provides extremely marginal improvements? And what are the odds that the $250 million magically grows to a much larger sum, as major construction projects almost always do?

  • I attended the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting in Richmond yesterday and filed this update which may be of interest.

    Sean Tubbs
    Charlottesville Tomorrow

  • @Pete- I am not disagreeing with you. Just pointing out that the value of a bypass to Cville area residents is not the most important thing for outside politicians. I have not seen a cost benefit analysis for this project and I doubt if there is one that is accurate since most are done by opponents of the project and don’t take into consideration the entire corridor. There have been plenty of governmental studies that detail positive impacts on economies along highway corridors and they are easy to find.
    I don’t think that the money will be as easy to find, though, and I think that the route needs to be lengthened to really meet the goals of improving the corridor.

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