Eastern Connector est Mort?

Things are not looking good for the Eastern Connector, Seth Rosen writes in the Progress. The long-discussed road is intended to move traffic between Pantops and 29N without taking the bypass, or any of the routes we take when we don’t want to deal with the bypass. Basically, to move people between these two points:


It’s not hard to see that you can’t get there from here. Either such a road would have to plow right through the city, or veer around, traversing hundreds of millions of dollars of prime real estate along 20N. After $500,000 in studies, that’s basically what the city and the county have figured out. Four routes were proposed: simply widening 250, building new bridges on either side of Free Bridge, running a road straight through Pen Park to Rio, and beefing up Proffit/Polo/20 N. All have some combination of being ineffective and impossible.

Though nobody’s declared the Eastern Connector dead, it’s hard to see how to move forward from here. The good news is that more traffic means more support for mass transit, which will help with the problem. The bad news is that it’ll have to be really bad for at least a decade or so before that support gels into anything meaningful.

18 thoughts on “Eastern Connector est Mort?”

  1. It appears the County and City had different goals for the road. It would have been great if they had done a little more work on defining what problem they wanted to solve before they hired a consultant. This $500K may well have gone down the drain. As I’ve said before elsewhere, having one road across a brdige out of Charlottesville is ridiculous.
    There is no law that says that the “Eastern Connector” has to be one continuous road. Why not lay out several shorter road segments? I have to admit that I really have no idea exactly where new roads can be built in that area. I have avoided driving on 20N and 22N my entire driving life.

  2. “…nobody’s declared the Eastern Connector dead…”

    Fantastic, then let me be the first.

    The Eastern Connector is dead because it is:
    A. Ridiculously expensive,
    B. Ineffective at reducing traffic and would in fact increase overall Vehicle Miles Traveled through induced demand, and
    C. Dependent on a hundred year old travel concept dependent on privately owned single occupancy vehicle cars burning fuel in the age of the information economy, peak oil, and global warming.

    This leads to some interesting questions:
    1. How does this affect the Meadowcreek Parkway, which required the Eastern Connector as a precursor for the city’s participation and suffers from the same design flaws?

    2. How can the increasingly messy eastern half of the region’s transportation system be improved in a way that reduces automobile dependence and VMT, uses modern technology, conserves resources, and is climate friendly?

  3. My office is at Pantops and I LOVE my “Eastern Connector” – Rt.20N to Rt.649 (Proffit Rd) * If I have to go to the bank or PO, I’ll take the By-Pass to 29 and wave at Wal-Mart on my way to TARGET!!

  4. Here is an idea. Run the thing to the interstate and create a new direct route from 64 to 29 North of Target. What am I missing?

  5. The direct route to I-64 was orginally planned over 30 years ago to extend the Meadowcreek Highway through the city along Ridge and 5th Street SE. It had nothing to do with relieving traffic on Park Street or providing better access to the downtown Mall, which wasn’t conceived at the time. It probably still is.

  6. They should use Profit Rd as the “bypass” by improving the line of sights, adding a little width to it and widening the railroad bridge.

    It would be a far better alternative than a new road close in to the city.

  7. I love to play golf, but I think it should go through Meadowcreek Golf Course. It would require losing hole number 6 at Pen Park which is a bland, unimaginative hole anyway. There is plenty of land there to replace the hole with a new one.

    It would also allow better access to Pen Park from the city by pedestrians and cyclists. It could be a nice tree lined street with a median, bike lanes and sidewalks. I don’t see many walking up Park/Rio to Pen Park from the city, yet it is so close via another entry point.

  8. They should use Profit Rd as the “bypass” by improving the line of sights, adding a little width to it and widening the railroad bridge.

    I once worked for someone up 29 North and this is essentially what I used to do too.

    I’ve thought for years that this is really the natural solution. I think it’s the communities along that route that have stood firm against anything like that. To them, I think it’d be effectively like deciding that we should just widen and improve Park Street and make it the Meadowcreek Parkway. (Hmm… Now there’s an idea…)

  9. How does widening Park Street improve it? Improve it for whom? I remember a parent in that area complaining several years ago that he couldn’t cross that street in the mornings to take his first grader to the school bus stop and it is a two lane road.

  10. I thought that the Eastern Connector planning group/consultants DID consider essentially making Profitt Rd./Route 20 the de facto bypass, with widening and straightening and all that would be entailed ($44 million was the estimated figure for that option). And I thought that they concluded that doing so would end up doing very little to reduce the travel time.

    Specifically, this is what I recall reading (from Charlottesville Tomorrow’s coverage of the November 2007 public meeting with the consultant):

    “Many [of the citizens attending the meeting] were concerned that none of the three alternatives would make a significant difference in reducing travel time, despite the large price tag. This analysis was based on a hypothetical trip from Hollymead to Pantops. Under the no-build [i.e., the “do nothing” option], that would take 37.8 minutes in 2025, compared with 37.4 minutes for Alternative #1 (Proffit Road relocated), 36.8 minutes for Alternative #2 (Polo Grounds Road Connector), and 35.9 minutes for Alternative #3 (Rio Road to Route 20 via Pen Park).”

    That was all quoted from Charlottesville Tomorrow, with the stuff in brackets and the boldfacing as my additions. Do nothing, and the commute from Hollymead to Pantops in 2025 takes 37.8 minutes; spend $45 million to make Profitt Road the bypass, and that commute takes 37.4 minutes.

    Full disclosure: I live off of Route 20N, so I’m uneasy with the whole Eastern Connector idea, but I have been willing to consider the various alternatives (I was fondest of the Pen Park option), but the consultant’s own numbers show that none of the options really seriously shaves any time off the commute? For the amount of money that would be required to put any of the alternatives into play? That seems nuts.

  11. For myself, the Proffit/20 route was never about time. It was more about stress. Basically driving down 29 just sucks, and I’d much rather drive somewhere else even if it took longer. I suspect I’m not the only one. Is my state of mind worth $45 Million? Maybe not, of course I’d never live up there.

    RE: “How does widening Park Street improve it? Improve it for whom?”

    You’ve missed my point. People already live along 20/Proffit just as they do along Park Street. Park Street wants the Meadowcreek Parkway because they think it’ll make their road safer. According to V-Dot and any amount of common sense, it won’t. If they are really serious about stopping people using it as a cut-through, then it is an easy thing to fix… put up a gate right in the middle and make it only accessible to emergency vehicles and mass transportation. You won’t see that happen because as much as they claim to fear for their neighborhoods safety, they depend on it as a short-cut just as much as everyone else does. After all, aren’t those that live on the Northern sections of Park essentially making other families road more dangerous? That’s why I put forth the somewhat sarcastic suggestion that we should make them the Meadowcreek parkway. After all, change begins at home, right?

  12. In August of last year, the consultant with PBS&J presented 11 options to the Steering Committee. None of these included a route through Pen Park. The consultant took a very broad view of the goal of the study, and the 11 options ranged from single roads to improvements on Route 250. Some of these ideas were fairly outlandish, but keep in mind the Eastern Connector is at the conceptual stage, and sometimes bold ideas are needed. However, some members of the Steering Committee felt a Pen Park option could be viable, despite the federal regulatory hurdles that would have to be overcome. By October, that route was added to the potential options. The committee saw further refinements and preliminary cost estimates in November, and three options were selected to show to the public at two late November public information hearings: Polo Grounds, Proffit and the Pen Park Route. However, the public did not seem to care for any of these options, and a majority chose the no-build option. In December, some Committee members felt the consultant had not done a good job of presenting the data, and asked for further analysis of the effects of each alternative on traffic congestion. One key point of contention: The data on time-savings shown to the public represented an average savings calculated over a 24-hour period. That lead to another steering committee in February where data analysis was further discussed, as was further refinements of some of the 11 alternatives that had previously been dropped. The resurrection of the bridge into the City south of Free Bridge caused City staff to bring the issue to the attention of City Council, which is where we are right now.

  13. Add a $5.00/gallon War Loan Repayment Tax on gasoline, and the need for a connector might diminish.

  14. Cecil reminds me of when I really got confused about the role of the Eastern Connector. I never read the RFP for the study, but I was still surprised when the time-saving discussion kicked in. I had thought the purpose for to alleviate the stand-still traffic on the 250-Bypass during rush hour by cutting down on the number of cars using it then.

  15. The Proffit Road option seems pretty unlikely, given that Proffit is a Historic Neighborhood and there are a bunch of conservation easements along it. I live on one of the nastier curves, but I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

    The road evolved from a horse-and-carriage trail, as all good roads do, and “straightening” it would be *much* harder than simply building a new road.

  16. I wrecked a new Ford convertible at a bridge below the church past Barrsden Farm/Pinch-em-Slyly on Rt.20 35 years ago coming back from party at Rivanna Farm…the road has been modified and my “wreck bridge” is gone; however, I doubt the road will be widened or straightened for commute purposes.

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