Parkway panic: Rooker vexed as Dorrier rekindles Bypass
Taking the reins from the late Charlotte Humphris, Dennis Rooker built his political career on fighting the Western Bypass, a much-maligned planned freeway that would rip through hills and neighborhoods just west of Charlottesville. And Wednesday night at 11:35pm, according to a Tweet by Charlottesville Tomorrow's Sean Tubbs, retiring Albemarle Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier flipped his vote from just a week earlier to let the Bypass live.
The Bypass earned infamy because it was designed in the early 1990s before much of the northern U.S. 29 development had occurred and before its price tag skyrocketed to something around $270 million. Its high per-mile cost, its inability to get around those northern suburbs, and VDOT's own research suggesting that 90 percent of existing 29 traffic is local led a national group called Taxpayers for Common Sense to name it one of the most wasteful road projects in the nation.
However, business leaders in Lynchburg and Danville have long complained that Charlottesville remains an expensive bottleneck for trucking operations that in 2005 won a bypass around the Lynchburg suburb of Madison Heights.
Around 2006, a pair of prominent Charlottesvillians proposed a cars-only alternative called the Ruckersville Parkway, but that died almost as quickly as it was born.
One thing that must be weighing on the minds of Virginia Department of Transportation officials is the fact that former land-owners along the route of the Western Bypass might possess the legal right– some as soon as this fall– to buy back their properties at the original purchase price due to the state's 20 years of inaction since acquiring those tracts.