What About Berkmar Extended?

A press release from the Charlottesville-based Southern Environmental Law Firm raises an important point: Berkmar Drive Extended is supposed to go in the same spot where the Western Bypass is supposed to go, and building one or more bridges over the Rivanna River to carry both of those (and then having Berkmar go over or under the 2–3 on- and off-ramps) is going to be a bit of a trick. SELC had a traffic engineering firm produce a report on the topic, trying to deal with the fact that the Berkmar plan and the bypass plan aren’t reconciled in any way. The engineer concludes that “[u]nder any scenario, trying to fit two facilities in this space would be difficult and extremely expensive,” whether by having adjacent roadways sharing a bridge, a few underpasses/overpasses and a parallel bridge, or just a pair of bridges. (It’s tough to explain, but looking at the diagrams, it’s easy to appreciate the complexity of the problem.)

The Berkmar Drive extension, you’ll recall, is intended to be a part of a parallel road network to 29N, to transport local traffic. It’s a method of getting thousands of cars off of 29N at a significantly lower cost than a bypass. No doubt it’s possible to do so in tandem with the bypass bypass, but rushing through the bypass without considering basic questions like this probably isn’t going to make things go more smoothly in this department.

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