VDOT is recommending a couple of new connecting roads, Sean Tubbs writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow.
The first is a chunk of the western bypass, extending “Leonard Sandridge Drive” (the exit to the bypass that UVA built recently, near the law school) on the other side of the bypass, running across Barracks Road and connecting to the far side of Hydraulic, towards Albemarle High School. That could hug the developed area pretty closely, connecting to and expanding Georgetown Road, or it could loop farther out, still connecting to Hydraulic where Georgetown does. There’s a third option of running clear up to Earlysville Road. (See the Daily Progress’ map.) The idea is to formalize what many people already do—drive clear up 29 from Barracks Road without ever driving on 29—but starting back at UVA. The folks in Canterbury Hills are about to bust a vein over these proposals—this road would run right through the back of many people’s property there, or through the middle of the neighborhood if the Georgetown option is chosen. VDOT emphasizes that this isn’t a bypass—it’s just a new road, meant to be used for local traffic. Presumably that means that there will be connecting roads, traffic lights, etc., so this new road would be opening up a whole new corridor for development. Part of VDOT’s interest has to be that the clock is ticking on the land that they acquired for the western bypass—if they don’t put it to use within the next few years, they’re going to have to sell it back.
The second proposal is an exit for 29N from the bypass at Best Buy. “We already have one,” you say? That’s true. (Though I figure we have two—one via Hydraulic and one that’s direct.) But VDOT wants us to have another one, so they’re proposing an elevated roadway that would run north from that stretch between Hydraulic and 29—going towards Barracks Road, it’s on your right where you can see a stream and a pedestrian footbridge—between Kroger and Dominion Power, over Hydraulic and the used car dealer owned by that guy who shot his neighbor’s cat, and then merge into 29 in front of Seminole Square. (See VDOT’s rendering.) If Albemarle Place ever happens, that merge point would seem to prevent access to it.
Given the state of Virginia’s transportation budget, this all seems academic. Though VDOT wants to see Charlottesville help fund it with local property tax increases along the corridor, it’s tough to see how that could possibly add up to being enough money. (Though it would send local business groups into fits, simultaneously favoring new roads and opposing having to actually spend any money to build them.) VDOT’s study group is going to take these recommendations to the Commonwealth Transportation Board in a couple of months, who will presumably decide whether it’s a high enough priority for the state that they’re prepared to spend however much it’ll cost.