Doing the Math on the Western Bypass

Aaron Richardson has a long article about the revival of the Western Bypass in the Progress, but the bit that interests me is this alarming pair of facts:

“The public money for [Hillsdale Drive] is less than $10 million and it will take 12,000 vehicles a day off 29,” Rooker said. “The cost of the bypass is around $250 million, and will take 15,000 vehicles off 29.”

James Rich, who represents Charlottesville on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, agrees.

“After $300 million of expenditures, Route 29 will still be at an F level of service,” he said. “You’re spending a ton of money, degrading the quality of life in an important area of the community, and what help is it?”

To provide a more direct comparison of the benefit per dollar of the the two modifications to 29N contrasted by Dennis Rooker, consider the difference in the cost expressed in cars per year of each approach. Expressed in terms of cars per year, Hillsdale Drive will cost $2.28 per car taken off 29. (10,000,000 / (12,000 x 365)) In the same terms, the Western Bypass will cost $45.66 per car taken off 29. (250,000,000 / (15,000 x 365)) Put even more simply, the Western Bypass will cost 2,000% as much per vehicle taken off 29N. Again, for an “F” level of service.

How much would it cost to run light rail clear down 29N to downtown? Or commuter blimp service? Jet packs for everybody? Any of those would be cheaper, and probably just as effective, as this goofy bypass of our existing bypass.

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