Eastern Connector Back on the Table

The Metropolitan Planning Organization wants to re-study the possibility of an “eastern connector,” Sean Tubbs reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. As the planned western bypass will route traffic around the city to the west, the idea is to have a corresponding road routing traffic around the city to the east. Of course, the bypass already does both of these things, so this would be another bypass bypass. The idea is basically to connect these two points:

Map with markers at Rio/29 and Pantops

If this seems familiar, it’s because we’ve already gone through this. At a 2007 public hearing, the public overwhelmingly opposed it. Then, in 2008, $500,000 in studies found that every possible road alignment was either ineffective or impossible. So later that year, both the BOS and City Council shelved the matter, and in 2011 the BOS finally eliminated it from their plans entirely. Without carving an entirely new road through a densely settled, suburban portion of the county, studies found that the only remaining options wouldn’t actually save anybody any time. Starting it farther north would be plowing through Forest Lakes, ending it farther east would go through Keswick estates.

So what’s changed? Well, nothing, except that there’s a $250,000 federal grant that the MPO figures they could get to study the ecological impact of an impossible or ineffective new road. Supervisors Rodney Thomas and Duane Snow say that they’d want the road to bypass Pantops entirely, since that’s become such a tangle, but doing that would involve going either over or through the Southwest Mountains, a feat on the scale of Claudius Crozet’s famous tunnel through the Blue Ridge, with the added twist of having to then run the road straight through some of the most valuable estates in Virginia. More than a century ago, there was a road crossing the Southwest Mountains at Hammocks Gap, as a part of the route to the Rivanna River from Milton but that was abandoned in favor of less arduously steep routes to the north (now Route 33 in Orange) and to the south (now 250 over Pantops).

And the cycle begins again.

9 thoughts on “Eastern Connector Back on the Table”

  1. Robert Moses could get it done! Of course, if anyone singlehandedly kills mass trans in the USa it would be him

  2. It sounds like our local politicians are happy to accept money to study this dead-end idea so that they can “create” a few jobs. A real conservative position would be to decline the Federal gift that would be a waste of money.

  3. With the Meadowcreek parkway happening I believe this could be a 20-25 year reality as well!

  4. Just keep asking the same question over and over and over until you get the answer you want. Disregard facts and public opinion, these are always slanted.

  5. Interesting that Boyd and Snow like this idea now that they think they’ve successfully circumvented good governance, faith in democracy, environmental stewardship, and traffic science in regards the western bypass-bypass.

    As Duane notes, this reveals local “conservatives” as complete and utter hypocrites.

    I don’t know Boyd’s biography, but (in my opinion) Snow has surely sullied his family’s otherwise good name with all of his asphalt aspirations.

  6. “create a few jobs” (Duane)……but not here. Can’t disagree with the concept and that a “northern” bypass is sorely neededbut as noted in comments it will never be done. The western bypass is too little too late, ‘Meadowcreek’ is simply a joke left over from 1971. A real bypass would skirt north of the airport from Pantops to Ivy. Never gonna happen. Charlottesville/Albemarle planners need to do a long look at Loudoun County.

  7. Loudon County is certainly a glaring example of a once beautiful place ruined by mindless development, but what specifically might our local planners learn from that mess?

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