Travel plans: Will Bypass bypass peds, bikes, and transit?

The proposed Western Bypass, the resurrected $235 million road project that will cut a 6.2-mile swath from Forest Lakes South to the North Grounds of the University of Virginia through neighborhoods west of Route 29, will not include bike or pedestrian access. Yup. And that's a fact that frustrates advocates for alternative transportation.

"We implore you to focus not only on the roadway design," writes Len Schoppa with the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation, in an email to the Albemarle Board of supervisors, "but on design elements that impact the ability of this project to improve bicycle, pedestrian, and transit connectivity in our region."

"The Bypass RFP makes it clear that the Bypass will not allow bicycles or pedestrians," says County Supervisor Dennis Rooker, who has convened a task force to add recommendations in an addendum to the RFP in the hopes of getting a better Bypass, 55 percent of which lies in his district.

As Schoppa points out, the current RFP for the project includes few mentions of bicycles and pedestrians, no mention of public transit, and only vaguely touches on "the need for more trails."

"This is an understatement," says Schoppa, who says the project could be a great opportunity to assist alternative modes of transportation. "All community surveys of parks and recreation needs show that trails are at the top of the list of priorities."

Indeed, the proposed Northtown Trail, a planned 14-mile commuter-bike-trail project to run from the airport to downtown on both the east and west sides of Route 29, was created to address this problem of getting bikes and pedestrians across the major roadway and the Rivanna River.

"Any project that spends $250 million or more to improve the flow of vehicular traffic without devoting some funds to improved transportation via these other modes is an anachronism," says Schoppa. "All projects in the 21st Century, especially those connecting and passing through densely populated areas, should include accommodations for walkers and bikers."

The Bypass design's neglect of public transit is "equally egregious," says Schoppa. Since the Bypass connects to Leonard Sandridge Road, Schoppa argues that it would serve as an excellent transit route for students. Other local transit providers like CAT, UTS, and JAUNT could also develop express routes on the new Bypass.

For example, Schoppa points out that at the Bypass's Earlysville Road crossing where it comes close to the dense housing on Rio Road, and near Sam's Club and Berkmar Drive, an express bus pull over on the Bypass to serve these employment and residential centers without the time-consuming process of going in and out of shopping centers as CAT's #7 currently does.

"Only by giving transit the ability to travel at similar speeds to vehicular traffic will we ever be able to entice choice riders to switch to transit," says Schoppa.

At a task force meeting on Monday, October 24, landscaping to buffer road noise, the need for aesthetically-pleasing bridges, and the possibility of limiting speed to 50mph were discussed, according to a report by Charlottesville Tomorrow.  Modes of alternative transportation? Not so much. In fact, eyebrows were raised by a plan to move the road closer to North Grounds and UVA's Darden School, currently an extremely pedestrian-friendly area.

"It is going to funnel a tremendous amount of traffic into North Grounds," said Mark Stanis, CT reported, a member of the task force who works for facilities management at the University of Virginia, where Leonard Sandridge Road will likely grow from two to four lanes.

Still, Rooker says alternative transportation issues are still on the list.

"One thing we are looking into is how we can create new pedestrian and bicycle connectors along the area of the Southern Interchange to prevent balkanization of the community by the interchange," says Rooker. "We are also interested in making certain that Bypass bridges don’t interfere with existing and planned pedestrian and bicycle paths and connections."

VDOT issued the RPP in September, and will issue an addendum on November 8, and a second addendum will also be included in the RFP in February before the contract is awarded.

Before then, Schoppa's group has a wish list of its own:

· Bikes and pedestrian trails on bridges over the Rivanna with pathways separated from motor traffic, much like the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac in Washington, DC.
· Roadway pull-offs for at least three bus stops with stairways and/or wheelchair accessible ramps providing pedestrian access from nearby neighborhoods.

· A continuous bicycle and pedestrian trail (similar to the Mount Vernon Trail along the George Washington Parkway) along the entire route.

Of course, it's questionable how realistic some of these wishes might be, considering the Bypass project has been a pedestrian-unfriendly "limited-access highway" project from the beginning. But, as Schoppa points out, the opportunity is there to change that– if we want to.

For recent design concepts, maps, etc. visit VDOT's design page at

More recent design concepts:

Southern Terminus design drawing

Most recent project location map

VDOT design page


this is a stupid argument

It would free up the bike lanes that are now congested by unnecessary traffic.


Is anyone else frustrated that with all the smart people in this community, like the dam/ uphill electrified pipeline plan, we are again failing to plan for the future, but instead are stuck in the past.

For all this money spent I would rather see nothing done, rather than continuing to proceed with short range solutions that keep us stuck in a mindset that treats our natural resources as something that will last forever.

When will we stop electing people who do not value the natural environment we live in, and who will work to find affordable, smart solutions to human needs - that will leave our planet in better shape for future generations.

Both our city and county elected officials are guilty of this --even Mr. Rooker has abandoned his one time support of a dredging centered water plan when pressed by the Nature Conservancy.

Mr Huja, who is up for re-election, has been an even greater disappointment. He used his citizens money to pay for studies that showed dredging is a better water supply alternative and then refused to make a decision based on facts that would have provided abundant water, preserved tens of thousands of trees, and been more affordable for for all . He also favors the ByPass.

Laying waste our natural environment, and failing to plan for a different future based on new technologies will not make Charlottesville a more attractive destination to live or work .

Do we not have a moral imperative to learn from the mistakes of the past and do better ?

@travel light:
There are no bike lanes on 29 North. Yours is the stupid argument.

I was not aware that Mr. Huja had publicly voiced an opinion on the 29 Bypass. Are you (intentionally?) perhaps confusing Mr. Huja's support of the Meadowcreek Parkway with what you claim to be his support of the 29 Bypass? They are certainly not equivalent issues, and it is quite possible to be in favor of the one and opposed to the other (as I am).

What was the quote? "This is a Us highway and not your main street."
You get the point. The bypass is to get traffic around that stinkhole.

If you want bike lanes, ped crossings, and starbucks put them on the future 29 business at your expense.

You hippies need some kids or something else to occupy your time.

Still betting that the bypass in its present configuration doesn't get built.

I doubt there are very many bikers or pedestrians traveling from Danville to DC. The proposed road is a bypass.

It's a road, roads are for cars. It is to alleviate the "conjestion" on Rt 29, not to accomodate bicycles, pedestrians and mass transit....................

"Only by giving transit the ability to travel at similar speeds to vehicular traffic will we ever be able to entice choice riders to switch to transit," says Schoppa.

Then one might make the assumption that this person is calling all current transit riders "non choice!" And what is a "choice rider" anyway? Maybe "choice riders" get to sit at the front of the bus?

Whenever you look at any aspect of this mess, remember that it was Supervisor Ken Boyd whose midnight escapades brought it to you.

HEY CHUCK! There are bike lanes at the present by-pass which goes in front of the high school.



I'm gonna assume that the speed limit on the bypass will be 55. Can you imagine what a car will do to a human body if struck by a vehicle at that speed. Can you also imagine what might be left of a human body once flattened out by an 18 wheeler, one big red spot. The argument for bicycles defies any logic or good sense. But what do you expect from people who try so hard to defy Darwins Law?

Dear Nancy,
I share your frustrations over what is admittedly politically expedient decisions made supposedly on the public's behalf. But there in lies the rub. What we see today here in Charlottesville is no different than what takes place in DC, only on a much smaller scale. Political cronyism, special interests and back room deals sealed at midnight. Unfortunately for us, the unwashed masses our only redress is at the poles. Unfortunately also is the fact that those aspiring to give us leadership if elected have no other aspirations than to follow in their predecessors footsteps. Another words, whats in it for me. Welcome to politics 101.

@ travel lite, Your posts are typically so moronic as to be laughable. Your most recent pair is no exception to that rule. There is no bypass that goes in front of a high school, at least not locally. As a logical consequence of that, your concern about the presence of bike lanes on a bypass going in front of a local high school is absurd at best. As far as a new bypass goes, it has only recently gone out for bid, which means that no one even knows what it will cost. Since no one even knows what it will cost, it ought to be pretty obvious that it hasn't been paid for.

@ Restore the Republic Re: your question "And what is a "choice rider" anyway?," you should be able to find our answer here. It will be explained in the first item that comes up.

@travel lite: "There are bike lanes at the present by-pass which goes in front of the high school."

Huh?! Are you talking about the Meadow Creek Parkway?!?! Because this article is about the need for such bike lanes on (or at least adjacent to) the proposed 29(!) BYPASS! No mention of the Meadow Creek Parkway.

How about you shut up and read the feekin' (sic) article next time?

"travel lite"- go play in traffic, see who wins. Perhaps we should widen pedestrian and bike trails to accomodate cars.............

Most of the bike lanes in town are perpetually empty.

@Chuck Bartowski, Ms. Szakos and Mr. Huja are Council's representatives to the MPO Policy Board and gave the two votes that were against funding the Bypass.
The intention of the Bypass is to have no local functions whatsoever therefore it should not have any local amenities. The reason why US29 is so congested now is because its original function as a highway was abandoned in favor of uses of a local road. Why make this mistake again?

The tax on gas pays for the majority of road maintenance and improvements. Why should this money be used for bike lanes. I have never seen anywhere I've been any indication that enough bicycles are used to impact traffic volumes. There are a few that comute, but most are for recreation. Highway tax dollars should not be used for bike paths. Use highway funds for highway maintenance and improvements. One reason highway projects cost are increasing is that items like this are added when they are not needed. Let bikers pay their own way.

@ g-unit as of 2007 the gas tax only covered 61% of highway funding. 39% is coming from other sources, including the taxes of bikers and pedestrians. Bikers are paying their own way!

biker- 61% is pretty good isn't it?

and bikers pay their share through their gas tax.

The balance is paid for by everybody.

How about we build you a velodrome........

Fine, lets put bicycle lanes on 64. That'll solve all the worlds problems. I'm opening a new crematorium.

Hi all,

It is very useful to make the betterment in Travel. Thanks for this great effort. keep sharing.

It is up to the State as to what vehicles and/or pedestrians are allowed on Interstate, I would "guess" that it will be up to the City or County as to whether or not anything other than EV or internal combustion powered vehicles will be allowed on the by-pass.

How about a horse and a horse and carriage lane?

The small % of taxes that a few bikers pay would not come close to paying what it costs to add a bike lane to a road project. Costs of bike paths should come from the general fund budget. VDOT also has to use funds to pay for things like renovating old train stations and other items not related to highways. Transportation funds go to subsidise underused rail and bus systems. But everyone wonders why Virginia roads are becomming the worst in the country.

As mentioned previously, this highway is not being built to service local traffic. Also, adding more stops to service neighborhoods totally defeats the purpose of the BYPASS. Mr. Shoppa wants to turn this road into another local road:
"For example, Schoppa points out that at the Bypass's Earlysville Road crossing where it comes close to the dense housing on Rio Road, and near Sam's Club and Berkmar Drive, an express bus pull over on the Bypass to serve these employment and residential centers without the time-consuming process of going in and out of shopping centers as CAT's #7 currently does."

"awildstrawberry" thank you! If some of the commentors would take a ride on the Amherst/Lynchburg, Bedford or Danville by-pass they just might learn something..........

I see the validity of (almost) everyone's points on this thread, but a lot of you are missing the point that whenever you build something of this magnitude it should be done the best possible way; getting the most complete solution from the money spent.
Obviously bike and pedestrian paths will not be located on the roadway but most likely grade separated in the massive disturbed area from this project: not the half-hearted half-lanes to nowhere you see on 5th st and hydraulic. Bike paths and quick bus services from grounds to wal mart or the airport? ingenious.
Now there's that mention of "choice" riders, which at first sounds degrading to a current bus rider; but i also know that it takes me at least 45 minutes to get from downtown to anything on 29 via bus. Some people are just too impatient for that. What if you could get from your house in forest lakes to Barracks in 10 minutes via public transit? You've all of a sudden perked up a lot of ears, especially in the university community. You reduce traffic and parking congestion at one time.
The biggest problem of all may be the northern terminus: this bypass will only do anything for the first... Years then will be made obsolete by sprawl on hollymead and beyond.
When making a descision this large please get the most benefit and be mindful of the way the community works and could work better.

At the nov CTB meeting, the culpepper chamber of commerce requested more transportation funds because the Western Bypass would put more 18 wheelers in culpepper which means of course that those 18-wheel vehicles will be induced to cut the I-81/i66 corner and come into north albemarle by the new bypass.

The profession of truckers is to find the shortest, quickest route and missing a dozen lights will entice them to at least test this new possibility, putting hundreds, perhaps thousands of huge trucks around C-villes northern suburbs.

The road, in shirt, will create what it is alleged to avoid. And that's according to a chamber of commerce...

The Chamber of Horrors has weighed in on a number of issues and their special interest views are suspect to be sure. Any time I see their name printed for or against an issue I have to be alert for an ulterior motive.

What if you could get from your house in forest lakes to Barracks in 10 minutes via public transit? How could this possibly be done if you do not build the by-pass?

I do not ride a bicycle and I should not have to pay for someone elses recreation with gas tax money.

Bicycle riders should pay just like hunters and fishermen.

Of course bikes and buses should be accommodated. Transportation facilities are a public resource. It's that simple.

I do agree that they should be accommodated. The question is who should pay. If bicycles and busses could get enough traffic off the road to reduce congestion you would have a case to pay for it with gas tax monies. Bus this is just wishfull thinking.