Feds Oppose Western Bypass

In a stunning development, the Federal Highway Administration is requiring VDOT to prove that the Western Bypass will serve any real purpose and is better than alternatives, Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. The FHA points to the growth of the region and questions whether the two-decade-old plan to build a bypass around our bypass makes sense anymore. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.) They’ve told VDOT to consider alternatives, which is almost certainly a euphemism for grade-separated interchanges along 29. In perhaps the most gutting line in the letter, they encourage VDOT to “work closely with local representatives to gain their support of the transportation improvement moving forward,” an acknowledgement that only a single member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors supports the proposed Western Bypass.

As Sean Tubbs writes in the article, “in combination with expected action by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to withdraw its support, construction of the Western Bypass in the near future now appears very unlikely.”

02/20 Update: Rubbing a little salt in the wound, BOS Democrats passed a surprise resolution against the Western Bypass at last night’s meeting. Ken Boyd, the lone Republican, objected to the unexpected appearance of the resolution, which was met with laughter from the audience and some members of the board. Boyd famously engineered the same thing in 2011, in that case causing the long-dead bypass to rise up again. The whole scene last night amounted to something like revenge fantasy pornography for bypass opponents, who now hold the high ground on nearly every front, an utter reversal from the position of defeat that they occupied three years ago.

18 Responses to “Feds Oppose Western Bypass”


  • It would be nice to see this resolved. While I am fairly agnostic on the issue, it would seem that many many more motorists would benefit from at-grade intersections on 29 rather than a bypass.

    Now, hopefully it won’t take the city council two decades to approve a very simple bridge to Belmont…

  • This continuing drama over transportation solutions happens against the backdrop of recent data from the US Conference of Mayors, WaPo story, pointing out that the Charlottesville metro area is one of the 10 worst-performing metro U.S. economies of 2013, shrinking 3%. I can’t help but wonder if the continuing squabbling, and lack of a unified vision for the area is the problem, and this highway interchange a key indicator.

    As a Blacksburger I always got a laugh out of the Hooville refrain – “All Dirt Roads Lead to Tech”. But you know what, all the freeways in Charlottesville lead to nowhere. And waiting for rail to save the Metro economy is just sad. But you C-villers do share something with Blacksburg; you can’t make decisions. After 20 years of “study” and “consensus building” Blacksburg can’t decide what it wants to do with a stinking vacant ex-school lot, it’s commercial district, it’s schools. Smart public servants spend millions re-habbing a derelict “historic” car repair shop, while the tax base shrinks.

    I watch this inability to build opportunity for ALL in these places where very smart people are concentrated and it just looks dumb, painful, and unattractive. How much longer will we have to hear some comfortably tenured, or retired Charlottesville Burgher speak of the brilliance of cock-blocking improvements to Rt. 29, and the promise of better access to the Northern Virginia economic engine. Honestly, is the metro citizenry that unaware of the elitist NIMBYism that grips the area? The plague of free-thinkers, and self-assured experts who wouldn’t know collaboration and self-sacrifice if it bit them on the ass?

  • Feds pulled the money for the bypass because when President Obama returned from his trip to Charlottesville he said, “What traffic on 29?

  • Danpri shoots & scores. That was seriously funny.

    I must say, I was shocked to discover that Charlottesville had a metro area, so I dove into that WaPo story. Turns out the top “growing” metro areas got that way because they either previously suffered huge losses in their housing markets that were now rebounding or they “benefited” from oil and gas production — often fracking. In short the areas of growth are ones I’m particularly pleased to not be experiencing.

    The feds are right: this bypass doesn’t. Lynchburg is currently calling this a “national highway” which also sounds odd. It is a US Highway but not an Interstate. Many thousands of US Highways double as somebody’s main street and none of them are required to be limited access.

  • When your jobs growth rate is 358 out of the 363 distinct national metro regions…you may have a public policy problem. When your Gross Metropolitan Product (GDP for metro areas) ranks 355 out of 363 metro areas, you have a problem.
    http://usmayors.org/metroeconomies/2014/0114-briefing.pdf

  • That report doesn’t actually include the kinds of figures you reference. It doesn’t include estimates for GMP. It includes the _changes_ in four different years for estimated GMP. I’d certainly agree with Barbara Myers that I’d rather not live in a city which competes with Midland, TX for a ranking on that chart.

    Nor does it include any measurement of an aggregate jobs growth rate– it includes change in _employment rates_. C’ville’s 4.4% unemployment rate means that the small percentage changes in employment statistics really don’t amount to much of anything.

    Certainly C’ville as a city can do more to improve its own economic prospects. But there’s nothing in that report by which we should be ashamed. And perhaps more importantly, you’ve given no evidence at all that building the so-called “Bypass” would do anything to improve those prospects for anyone in C’ville, or Blacksburg.

  • Oh, surely Soroka, these metrics must be Studied, and Parsed, before a Consensus can be reached that there is …nothing to see here! Look, I don’t give a spit about the bypass, so don’t cast me in that melodrama. My point was; it is a distraction and an indication the community lacks a cohesive prioritized vision of the future and its citizenry. There are real metro problems, water supply, manufacturing base, transportation, infrastructure, revenue, jobs and opportunity -the US Mayor’s Economic Briefing paint them bright.

    So while you and Miss Barbara console yourselves that you don’t live amongst the foolish people who found themselves upside down in a house during this recession, or sniff at Midland, Texas, let me just point out that on that list of economic indicators there was not a single Virginia metro economic region below the Charlottesville metro region!

    And while you congratulate yourselves that you aren’t Midland, Texas let me also point out something else you are not, having experience with both communities. Midland is a loud cowboy place for sure, a product of the Texas entrepreneurial oil industry. And once you get past the brash you see the essence of a community unafraid to take chances or make mistakes. No challenge is too big, or too impossible. They know that making mistakes and losing a few is part of the path to success. And understand that taking themselves too seriously only makes a fall more painful. Charlottesville could learn from that.

    While you don’t have to fear fracking shale, Permian basin wildcatters, or an overbuilt housing market; you should be wondering why the metro area doesn’t have more business investment, manufacturing, leadership and employment opportunity. But what packs the public hearings and captivates the Smart People? A roadway.

  • Robert–

    _You_ chose to comment on this topic. (“Fed Oppose Western Bypass”). I cast you in nothing. I did point out that the document you referenced doesn’t actually say the things you first claimed it does. It certainly doesn’t say the things you claim above, either. Your insults won’t change that.

    I think neither Barbara Myer nor I disparaged Midland in the way you suggest. For my part, I have nothing against Midland. I also don’t think that economic and political circumstances in West Texas look anything like what they do in Central Virginia. Comparing the two cities to the detriment of either is stupid, especially so doing using an opaque and simplistic numerical measure like GMP. The point to be made is that what is good for Midland or for Charlottesville is not necessarily good for the other.

    Your insults and misuse of statistics laid aside, there’s not much left to which to reply in your comments, so we can consider the conversation over.

  • Looks like we’re doing OK to me.

    America’s Healthiest Small Cities (#6) – Daily Finance 2014
    Top 100 Places to Live (#26) – Livability.com 2013
    America’s Smartest City – Luminosity.com 2013
    Top Ten Book-Loving Cities (#4) – Livability.com 2013
    Best Small Cities For Working Women (#4) – nerdwallet.com 2013
    Most Romantic Cities (#4) – Livability.com 2013
    One of “America’s Best Intergenerational Communities” – Met Life & Generations United 2012
    Tastiest Towns in the South (#5) – Southern Living Magazine April 2012
    Small Community City for Overall Well-Being – Gallup 2012
    Top Beer City (#8) – Livability.com 2012
    #1 City to Live in the Country – Yahoo Real Estate/Sperling’s Best Places – 2011
    “Locavore” Capital of the World – Forbes Magazine – 2011
    Most Walkable City in Virginia – Walk Score – 2011
    TripAdvisor – Top 10 Charming Towns – 2010
    Best College Football Town – Associate Press Readers
    Top “Brainiest” Metropolitan Areas – The Atlantic
    Number One City for Retirement – Kiplinger.com
    Healthiest Place to Live – Men’s Journal magazine 2010
    Top Place to Retire – Kiplinger magazine 2010
    4th Best Place to Live in the Country – Kiplinger’s Magazine 2009
    11th Best Town to Find a Job – Forbes Magazine 2009
    One of the 30 Coolest Neighborhoods, Belmont – Men’s Health Magazine June ’09
    18th Safest Mid-Sized Cities in the Country (populations between 150,000 and 500,000), Farmers Insurance
    AAA Bond Rating by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s 2009, Moody’s has ranked City AAA since 1973, S & P since 1964
    AARP, Top 10 Healthiest Places to Retire, 2008
    Best Places to Retire, Black Enterprise Magazine, 2nd in 2008
    Best City for Living and Launching a Business by Fortune and Money Magazines – 18th Place in 2008.
    Best Small Market for Business by Forbes Magazine – 9th Place in 2008.
    2008 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, Gold and Flag Award in the Environmental Program (Government) category
    USGBC LEED Gold Certification, Downtown Transit Center, 2008, 1st LEED Gold municipal designation in the state.
    Top Ten Digital City, Center for Digital Government, 3rd 2005, 4th 2006, 6th 2007, 5th 2008, 4th 2009
    National Trust for Historic Preservation, Distinctive Destination, 2007
    2008 Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze Level from the League of American Bicyclists
    Southern Business & Development Magazine: #1 on the list of 10 “Really Cool Small Southern Markets”
    Life magazine: Charlottesville region “The Best New Place to Drink Wine.” Charlottesville area – one of 10 superlative locales cited in Life’s write-up of “10 Perfect Weekend Escapes.”
    2007 Businesses for the Bay Environmental Excellence Award ”Outstanding Achievement for Pollution Prevention, Local Government”
    Money Magazine: Best Places to Live
    Outside Magazine: One of the Best Places to be Found 1995 & 1999, also one of Seven Dream Towns That Have it All, Best Town to Live 2006, 2008
    Kiplinger’s Personal Finance: #2 Healthiest Place to Live in America
    Men’s Journal: #3 Healthiest Small City to Live in America
    Reader’s Digest: Top Ten Places in the Country to Raise a Family (#7 out of 50)
    American Health: Top Ten Healthiest Cities for Women (#6)
    Golf Digest: Best Retirement City for Golfers (#1)
    Tennis Magazine: Best Tennis Town (#1)
    Arts and Entertainment Television: One of the Best Places to Live in America (#6)
    #1 Best City to live in in USA & Canada (Cities Ranked & Rated 2004)
    E-Podunk.com: Best Small College Town (#1)
    Modern Maturity Magazine: Most Alive Places to Live (#2 College Town)
    Forbes/Milken Institute: Best Small Places for Business and Career 2001 (#12)
    Travel 50 & Beyond: Top Ten Great Places to Retire 1999
    Best Trail Running, Outside Magazine 2006
    Cottage Living Magazine, Great Place to Live
    GFOA Certificate of Achievement Reporting
    • for fiscal year 2013 for the 33th consecutive year.
    Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Awards, Outstanding Achievement for Pollution Prevention, 2007
    City Website was voted Best City Website by the City County Communications and Marketing Association – Savvy Award, 2006
    City Website was voted Best City Website by the National Association of Government Webcasters
    Top Five Green Cities, Blue Ridge Magazine, 2006
    City Website received Sponsors Award by the National Association of Government Webcasters
    City Parks and Recreation Department accepted as Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
    City Parks and Recreation Department accepted Tree City USA
    Best Place to Relocate, Relocate America, 2006
    Fire Department – ISO Class 2 Fire Department (1 being the best on a score of 10)
    • Internationally Accredited Fire Department
    • Fire Department – Governor’s Award for Excellence in Fire Service Management
    Dozen Distinctive Destinations – Charlottesville – National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2007
    Best Workplace for Commuters, US Department of Transportation, 2006
    Department of Social Services, USDA recognition for outstanding customer service, 2005
    City Ranked the Top “Really Cool Small Southern Market”
    By Southern Business and Development Magazine, (April 2005)
    Money Magazine 100 Best Places to Live – August 2004
    Forbes Magazine – Best Small Places to Do Business – Rank 22
    Business Journals – Best Places to Work – June 2005

  • Yeah, you’re doing real good. But I already knew that because a City fire truck told me Charlottesville is a “World Class City”. What’s the plan for the 1 in 4 City residents who live below the poverty line, or the 1 in 2 City schoolkids who are so poor they can’t afford lunch?

  • @Robert,

    That is a very good question you pose. What do you think would be good starting points to address those two problems you point out?

  • Start by recognizing that the status quo is UNACCEPTABLE. Organize, and don’t vote for any candidate who can’t present a cogent plan to bring jobs and opportunity to the City. Challenge the intellectuals who have failed so reliably in the past. Be prepared to hang those failures like a lantern.

    My first impression of Charlottesville (+35 years ago) was evident hard poverty as I cruised 5th to downtown. I thought it was odd that this town/city would let such conditions fester in plain sight, this being a proud University town and such. Now, all these years later, I’m just fed up with the malingering, ample excuses of Smart People who I suspect are all too comfortably numb with the status quo.

  • I thought this thread was about the bypass but alas I was mistaken

  • “Looks like we’re doing OK to me.”

    Goodness help us Bystander, if regular US29 has to be shut, like was for the President and his French Counterpart recently, just so these placates and awards can be gladhand delivered to Lane Auditorium or within City Hall.

    “Organize, and don’t vote for any candidate who can’t present a cogent plan to bring jobs and opportunity to the City.”

    The only thing perlogik didn’t extend in cheeky reply to you Robert was what I’ll go ahead to dare add now.

    …But don’t we all think campaign rallies under the Downtown Pavillion Tarp are a local industrious business too?

  • I believe that a majority of the citizens of both the city and county view our area as a good place to live and surveys done over multiple years support that view. The change in the bos in my view was a reaction to the old board who felt changing Albemarle to a Fairfax model was a mistake. But getting back to Route 29, I would just remind you that Rt 29 goes both in and out of Cville and you always have the choice to leave if your unhappy.

  • Good to know you perceive how that might appear to everyone and reaffirming this before all here. So then really, what actually induced you to list that litany of bean footage?

    “….and surveys done over multiple years support that view.”

    Sure, but not the entire whole with every single solitary view in it!

    You sound very hard-working and decent Bystander, and I’d give you a benefit of doubt; listing such wasn’t out of professional pride, silver spoon affluence or any creeping gentrification. Still, how many times can something be repeated before taken as a skipping record? These are such sugary coated cavity causing nice lauds to drill into set minds. Something being exceedingly touted and incessantly gotten across (especially for primarily leading others to unchallenged belief) DON’T mean it’s 100% on level.

    Although you have managed to pique something else worth noting. “…the old board who felt changing Albemarle to a Fairfax model…..” That smacks just like NOT daring to defend the present economy and unemployment rates as where such now are.” There’s plenty of misdirection on all sides and so little time. Is genuine earnestness so low, that it had to resort to that rabbit from a mantra hat-trick “bypass around a bypass.” Had all the stops to annexation not been pulled out over twenty years back, maybe Emmett Street would be today known as only that, rather than also Business 29.

    You also know what else among all this comes across disingenuous? Playing the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir (slash) Environmental Card. Would the EPA still have the same protective incitements, were the South Fork dam torn down for extension of the full Rivanna (both forks) becoming designated a State Scenic River? Just conjecture but, could that have been in the far-flung recess of Liz Palmer’s conscious, back during debates over structural height increase for Ragged Mountain Reservoir’s Water Capacity?

    So back to US29 Bystander, I won’t bother you about regrets over traffic cameras and the impervious flow of the local versus out town vehicular traffic. Balanced choice seems to matter little to some and why impose further on those predisposed to selective hearing anyhow.

  • Waldo, Is this last post spam generated by your (reasonable) post against Cups?

  • It was a damned shame to delete that spam comment (“breast enlargement”) and ruin a perfectly good joke. :)

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