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.



The manner in which this came about is reprehensible. The meeting had been adjourned, and I was on my way out the door when I hear that Mr. Dorrier wanted to change his vote. Much procedural scrambling ensued as Ms. Mallek and Mr. Rooker incredulously asked how their fellow supervisors could even consider this vote under the circumstances of LATE hour, meeting adjourned, and not allowing an opportunity for public comment. SHAMEFUL -- and makes me question the legality of vote.

Mr. Dorrier should be ashamed of his reversal and he should be investigated. There is something fishy going on here.

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Yeah, no kidding we need a bypass - AN EASTERN ONE.

And your comments regarding Mr. Rooker's appearance show what a small-minded person you are. Way to go, third grader.

I believe she was commenting on Mr. Dorrier's appearance and if you had seen him last evening you would understand that there is something seriously wrong with Mr. Dorrier. the comment was related to Mr. Rooker.

I was at the meeting as well and watched as Rooker tried everything in the book to stop this. First, this wasn't a vote to build the Bypass - it was a vote that allows the building of the bypass to be discussed, along with other roads the county wants to get some of the transportation dollars that have passed this area by for years. Before the Bypass would be built there will be other hearing and plenty of time for the public to further comment.

It seemed clear that Dorrier could only bring this up because he was on the side that voted against it the first time and he did so after talking with the Transportation Secretary. Again nothing seemed to have been promised but many other roads seem to have been discussed. Dorrier was open about why he changed his mind. There was nothing wrong or illegal about this- it was brought up in others matters part of the agenda- the only place Dorrier could have addressed it. The fact is was late had more to do with the hearing before it then anything nefarious.

So if the state only offer the money for the bypass the supervisors might not go for it. However if they give us money for widening 29 near Forest Lakes and the Berkmar bridge, then that might be something else entirely.

All this vote seems to have done is allowed other conversation that will generate more public meetings to occur. I would like to hear would the state will offer before turning it down and I'm glad that that this reversal occurred. I look forward to hearing more information about what the state is offering before saying I could support or reject the total package.

From the NC border northbound all the way to DC, EVERY locality along US 29 has built a bypass except for CHO: Danville, Chatham, Gretna, Altavista, Lynchburg/Madison Heights, Amherst, Lovingston, (Your Name Here), Madison, Culpeper, Remington, Warrenton. Albemarle/CHO needs to get over its "not in my back yard" mentality and use the funds you have already taken/misspent and build a bypass around the embarrassing fiasco of the 29 business corridor that you yourselves have created. Interstate 64 was originally supposed to have been an East-West connector between Tidewater and Bristol. The Hoity-Toities hob-nobbed with JFK and got it re-routed through CHO. Congrats! Now build the damn bypass.

The process is what is at stake here, Dusty. Don't you care that this item wasn't even on the agenda, advertised to the public? This is typical backroom Boyd. For all the lip service paid to "freedom" and "transparency in government," this is somehow deemed as acceptable process. Ewww.

"From the NC border northbound all the way to DC, EVERY locality along US 29 has built a bypass except for CHO: Danville, Chatham, Gretna, Altavista, Lynchburg/Madison Heights, Amherst, Lovingston, (Your Name Here), Madison, Culpeper, Remington, Warrenton. Albemarle/CHO needs to get over its "not in my back yard" mentality and use the funds you have already taken/misspent and build a bypass around the embarrassing fiasco of the 29 business corridor that you yourselves have created. Interstate 64 was originally supposed to have been an East-West connector between Tidewater and Bristol. The Hoity-Toities hob-nobbed with JFK and got it re-routed through CHO. Congrats! Now build the damn bypass."

That's right. And an EASTERN BYPASS makes a heck of a lot more sense. Look at a damn map already. Where are the growth centers in Virginia? Duh.

Is that John Lennon on the left?

@ Caroline...Cheers! That's exactly what needs to happen. Traffic flow is ultimately about bottlenecks. It does take very many tractor trailers to slow traffic. The fact that most 29 traffic is local isn't as vital as you may think. On 29 it's the individual lanes that cause the backup...29 approaching and leaving 250 for instance. Take the through traffic out of that mix and it's happier motoring, for sure.

Caroline your mind is made up and that's fine but it didn't have to be on the agenda, why do you say it does? This is done at every meeting (it's called matters not on the agenda) and it was a simple reversal of one vote that had a public hearing the previous meeting. The public was heard there. Dorrier says he heard new information from a state official and that change his mind (of course don't let what Dorrier actually said sway you from making another baseless accusation that will probably get deleted)

As for process, this vote seems get it allow to occur. It's not a vote to build the Bypass just one that let's us finally talk about other road projects as well that need to be addressed. Can't you wait until the state let's us know what it will and won't fund first? I can wait till then and make a decision when I've got all the facts.

If the bypass had been built years ago you would be praising it. Get it done for future generations to be able to do more than crawl on 29.

This debate has been going on for a quarter century and CHO has already received (squandered?) $50 million for the project. How's that for hope and change? Git 'er done... before a federal judge steps in and makes you pave something you may not like.

Dusty, perhaps it's just a gap in understanding of what a truly transparent political process is -- or how much of one citizens demand.

"Other Matters" or "Matters from the Board not Listed on the Agenda" are intended (and explicitly stated) to be for non-controversial or non-voting items. For example, a report from a Board member on a recent committee meeting he or she has attended. The Board just mandated this themselves a week ago through a specific action!!

Because, you see, the public should be informed about MAJOR issues being discussed and/or decided so they can plan to ATTEND the Board meeting and weigh in if they desire.

To do otherwise, as was the case last night, essentially excludes citizens who might have an opinion or two about putting the Western Bypass on the table -- or any other issue for that matter. What if another Board member had decided to slip in a vote on county funding of Planned Parenthood? Or a million bucks in county funding for a YMCA?

It's not about the specific measure they are deciding, it's about the process by which they are deciding it!

If you are comfortable with individual Board members slipping in eleventh hour decisions that might have a profound effect on your community, hey -- more power to you. You may want to check out home prices in Northern Korea while you're at it. I for one believe that a true democracy must include true transparency. And last night that principle was blatantly being abused.

I'm surprised for all the talk from "the right" on "freedom" they are so willing to give it up at the most basic level. Jeesh.

correct @ North Korea, not Northern.

late night.

Could you show me where it's say that a matter not on the agenda has to be non controversial? And who gets to decide if it is or not? The matter had a public hearing and will have more, why do you seem to pretend otherwise? The public did weigh and and will again.

The matter was brought up at the very first opportunity it could after the previous public hearing and vote- It's not Dorrier's fault the hour was late and it's disingenuous of you to accuse him of doing something wrong. It was only late because of the exhaustive meeting that i had attend where the public was heard quite completely by the very same supervisors.

Again Caroline it's not a vote to build the bypass only one to discuss it. Are you really saying that even discussing the possibility of building a bypass is wrong even after the public weigh in?

The Board members decided that themselves, Dusty. In fact if you go back and listen to the podcasts of the last year's meetings you will hear the exact moment whereby the decided that would be the process. I'm not going to do your homework for you. It's all online at the BOS website, Albemarle County. And this is by no means the first issue that has been brought forth in this manner. The democratic way to bring items onto an agenda is to have them put on there legitimately, not at 11:30 p.m. after a grueling and controversial public hearing. Dontcha think??

I like Mr. Dorrier very much as a person, but he is being used as a pawn here.

As a tax-paying citizen, I don't want surprises like this. I want transparency and open discussion, following the process that the Board itself has agreed to!!

Someone who cares about Mr. Dorrier should ask him to resign. He has served the community nobly for many years, but his time to step down is now, and I don't understand why anyone close to him would not advise him to do so.

It appears you and I are talking past each other, Caroline. You have not addressed the fact there was a previous public meeting or if simply discussion a bypass is wrong. The transparency is there- there was a public hearing on the matter- Dorrier gave several reasons for changing his vote- and there will be more discussion before anything is decided. Again the hour of the action is irrelevant because public comment wasn't allowed at that time anyway.

The only reason you seen to think it lacks transparency I would guess is because you don't even want to see the mere discussion of the bypass. But I don't want to put words in your mouth, Do you think there should be a discussion of the bypass and all the other road projects with the state at all?

Dusty, please keep in mind also that VDOT has already weighed in against a Western Bypass due to its cost. So while it may be "OK" to bring it back up for discussion by the public, the process of doing so is not free. And guess who's gonna pay for all that staff time?

Fiscally responsible, huh? Hmmm.....

And no, I have no problem with a discussion of the bypass. Again, keeping in mind that you and I are going to pay for it ALL OVER AGAIN only to have the state say "NO." It's almost laughable, honestly.

As far as the process, you will have to do your own homework there. Mr. Dorrier could have proposed that the bypass item be heard at their next full Board meeting so it could have appeared as an actual agenda item.

So why didn't he do so? I know the you?

When I'm driving from points South of CHO to points North of it, I already have my own scenic bypass around the 29 parking lot, but I doubt that the beautiful peeps are happy about it.

If the state doesn't come up with money to build bypass or make a deal on other road projects you would have a great point that I would agree with. And the supervisors who back these new discussion will have to answer for that. But it seems that the state is already very serious about this and that means the money would have to be there. Dorrier said the he was talking directly with the transportation secretary himself, who else would he have to talk with to make you think the state was serious?

Why would they need another new hearing when they just had one last month? The matter was discussed fully, you could go to the County's website and look up the podcast of it. I'd put a link here but I don't want to do your homework for you-

I am glad you are not doing my homework for me, Dusty, because it would be fraught with errors. There has NOT been an advertised public hearing for reconsideration of the Board's previously stated position on the Western Bypass. Mr. Thomas brought it up under "Other Matters" and the Board took a vote at the end of the meeting. They did allow for public comment -- and that only occurred because a few savvy county citizens got advanced "warning" that this was going to be discussed.

Is this the kind of government you want in the U.S.A.? Back door conversations and surprise votes? Yikes.

And it's so nice that the Secretary of Transportation has promised Mr. Dorrier that the state will support and fund this (even though this reverses the position of VDOT and the MPO). me the money. :-D

Dorrier has finally done the correct thing for transportation. Otherwise Alb taxpayers should return millions of $$$ of wasted money to the State .
Then the returned money can be sent to other areas to break traffic tieups in areas like Louisa, Stanardsville, Culpeper.

Thank you Dusty for your comments on this matter. As for Caroline, I concur an eastern bypass or connector road is needed. But thanks to some wealthy landowners in the path of the roadway, it has been scuttled. This is one of the hardest community to navigate.

Again, it's not really the potential outcome that is so disturbing is the process of local government. The first comment says it all.

People around the world are fighting at their own peril for true democracy. Yet here we shrug our shoulders at the abuse of it and say "Meh. It's for the best."


Eastern Bypass? Why would we want to build a road that is twice as long as the Western Bypass that we've already rejected? Look at a map, please!

Democracy (popular vote) is mob rule. Look at where it's gotten Greece. The Republican form of government is best, but can be a real bitch. Which is why concerned Americans should not treat any election as if it were American Idol. It's not a popularity contest... it's about doing the right thing. CHO/ALB has had at least 25 years and $50 million to deal with this bypass fiasco... and not a shovel has been turned. You all should be embarrassed that even the communities along US 29 who do not measure up to your standards have long since handled the bypass.

Yeah, I could be dead wrong about the wisdom of an Eastern Bypass. And I will gladly admit that.

But I am 100% right that the political process exhibited at last night's meeting was a TOTAL SHAM.

This vote was taken after a hastily strung together series of what I consider to be questionable motions. When the county attorney was asked for protocol to re-open the meeting so that Mr. Dorrier could change his vote, his answer seemed to me to be along the lines of... "well, sure, I suppose if you really wanted to DO this, you have to do A, B and C". I read his comments as saying sure, you 'could' vote on this tonight, but 'should' you??? And both Mallek and Rooker expressed concern that this 'new information' was withheld from them until immediately before the vote. They suggested putting the matter on the agenda for the June 30 meeting. Nope, nope, let's go ahead and do it NOW. hmmmm.... fishy, fishy.

And when relaying his reasons for changing his mind, Mr. Dorrier relayed some pretty quasi coherent second hand conversation with the Secretary of Transportation, and if I understood him correctly, the upshot of that conversation is that Albemarle County will have 270 million magillas to spend on the project. Wha? ummmm, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd like to see something like that in writing before I acted in any way, shape or form on it.

From this Charlottesville Tomorrow June 2 article about last week's vote, a very prophectic quote from Dennis Rooker to Rodney Thomas: “It’s already been brought up three or four times in the past year....The votes have never been there do it, so you keep coming back with it. I guess at some point you’ll catch the public unaware." (I want this guy picking lotto numbers for me.)

From the same article:
George Larie, president of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Transportation Coalition, said he was shocked at Thomas’ request. 'This bypass has had massive citizen opposition during public hearings and has consistently been opposed by the Board of Supervisors for over 20 years,” Larie said. “It does not solve the traffic problem on Route 29, which is a local traffic problem, not a through-traffic problem.”

Caroline, you are spot on. If it walks like a duck....

It has happened before at BOS meetings, K. Boyd tried to sneak in an addition to the growth area in the same way - through "Other Matters." It's shady politics and I hope the voters of the Rivanna District have been paying attention...

And any pleasure I might take in being 'spot on' is completely and gravely overshadowed by the sincere disappointment I am feeling at the behavior of those we elect to represent us.

Dennis Rooker's 1# issue has always been "stop the bypass!". It is what he has promised his neighbors and friends he will fight to the very end to stop. Why? Because it will put a big new road near his house and though many of his supporters property. There is nothing wrong with this but he just one supervisor who only represent 1/6 of Albemarle. There is no one more passion about stopping the bypass by any means necessary. Tell him you're for the bypass and stand back for a lecture on why you are misinformed, misguided, and perhaps even heartless.

George Larie is one of Dennis Rooker's biggest contributors in his last race. Is it really surprising that since Larie is an opponent of the bypass that he would have given thousands to Rooker's campaigns, even though he had no opponent.

Don't get me wrong, this two fine people have a right and some would say duty to fight for their beliefs but at the end of the day it's always seem liked enlighten self interest to me. Which again is fine and good as long as it is recognized what it is and not confuse it with the high mind and more noble cause they would prefer you to beleive their efforts are really all about.

The shame of it all is if the Western Bypass had been built years ago we (as well as others passing through) would have reaped the benefits many times over. Just getting the truck traffic off Rt 29 would be worth it. You do realize the $47 million already spent by VDOT to acquire land will be deducted from the local transportation budget if we don't proceed? I love Charlottesville and the surrounding area but the "rich and famous" west of Rt 29 have had their way long enough. While you're at it how 'bout allowing Cracker Barrel to build close by so we don't have to drive over the mountain to Waynesboro. Loosen up Charlottesville/ Albemarle and reap the benefits....

Yes Mr.Dorrier it is time for you to retire......four years ago.

This will be my last post on this, much to the relief of everyone. ;-)

Let's say we wake up tomorrow and the Western Bypass is built.

How is the person working at U.Va. going to get home to Forest Lakes? Yep, straight up 29. You think all of that 5:00 traffic is interstate travelers? VDOT studies don't really bear that out. Unless improvements are made along 29, a bypass isn't going to solve much of the local headache.

It was Dorrier, Boyd and Thomas, as I recall, who have said they don't want grade separated interchanges at key intersections along 29 Business. Take a jaunt down to Lynchburg next time you get a chance. Ride along the 10 exits of the expressway (grade separated, OMG!) that feed businesses along their 29 Business corridor. Sure, the bypass helps relieve congestion -- but the expressway is the real ticket for local traffic.

Oh, I think Dorrier is right on the mark. If there were ever two BOS members interested in the large landed estate owners, and shoving the cost of growth on the citizens of Charlottesville, and Albemarle residents living in the CHO ring, its Rooker and Mallek. Maybe now they will have to feel the pain, as they should for their tax break schemes.

I for one am sick and tired of coming in from the south side of town, and driving through the 29 stoplight development Hades to get to DC, or basically, anywhere north of Charlottesville. Often I shoot up through Gordonsville...BUT, I shouldn't have to. The County needs to pay the piper for their stupid development.

They don't want a bypass but they want a massive dam and pipeline and body of water. They do ant Charlottesville tp pay for that and bigger roads, but they don't want to do a darn thing for anybody else in this state. Yeah. Gotcha.

I like Dorrier, and I continue to support Dorrier.

To heck with the trucking companies. They treat their drivers like garbage, and endanger everyone on the road with their unserviced equipment and speeding.

Caroline, you should meet proac, he's the blow hard on the DP blog, you two would find alot in common.

Aww, thanks Chopped Liver. But I'm not really here to meet new friends. And hey -- I don't really care if anybody's a blow-hard as long as they are making salient points.

Just a little afterthought here...everybody does know that the proposed Western Bypass will end BELOW Hollymead right? So I guess it's just interesting to think, when all that land to the north is chunked up into developments (which it most certainly will be if the Board's current direction continues), what will the traffic be like as all the bypass travelers pour out onto Route 29 right under Hollymead?

Chopped Liver, I think you are on to something there. I was thinking the same thing as I read this thread.

Chopped Liver, I think you are on to something there. I was thinking the same thing as I read this thread.

Well it's a free country and this is an open forum. If you don't like what I say, the way I say it, or the length of my posts, just move onto the next. :-)

What? The plan would he for the bypass to end south of Hollymead?? That would turn the new and growing developed area around the Hollymead Town Center into a real mess.

I live in north of town, and it seems pretty obvious the main cause of the traffic into town is due: 1) to lots of locals commuting to work and going to the stores along 29, and 2) all the traffic lights. I don't see how a bypass will resolve either of these two problems.

If the businesses in lynchburg don't like driving through town, too bad. Why should I subsidize those businesses ?

Why don't we build some more local north-south roads behind the Hollymead town center and this new short-pump look-alike that's going in at hydraulic and 29?

We'll need more capacity for local traffic throughput as this area north of town grows its residential areas.

Why should the State pay for a commuter road for local traffic Newin Town? 29 is a major state highway.

Instead development accessing the road should have been denied.

to Jebmeister: You need to take a trip across the US. I just did from Las Vegas to Charlottesville by way of Phoenix, Tuscon, Roswell (NM), Lubbeck, Tx, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Texarkana, Natchez,MS, and other places back to here. We spent less than 10% of the total trip on the interstates. Do you know how many towns are going broke because of bypasses? I do. We decided to see what was left of the great country and we have come to the conclusion that building most new roads is a waste of money. If you believe that building the bypass will help commerce then you are ignorant or misinformed. Once the road is built then what? It will be easier for trucks carrying foreign made products for you and your family shopping at Walmart.

Picture four to eight lanes going through the countryside from Ruckersville through Earlysville, Free Union, and Ivy, down to North Garden. Thats what an actual bypass would need to look like. Think about that, and weep.

Newin Town,

The alignment for this bypass was done 15+ years ago...and yes, it's northernmost point ends south of Hollymead. Things were very different up there at that time, obviously. It seemed like that would be "the end" of development (ha!).

While I think a bypass is ultimately necessary, I think it would be a huge, huge mistake to build it based on the existing plan. Sure, "the state" says they will pay for it -- but that's still our taxpayer dollars! So we're gonna dump $200+ million into a road that is already outdated and tear up the countryside along the way.

P.S. This piece is full of opinion, but it is also full of good background information:

Perhaps Mr. Rooker should get with the times- it is the '80's ya know......

perhaps his constituents should should do the same...............

The proposed "new" route 29 bypass route is out of date. It will cause harm to the quality of life in Albemarle County and Charlottesville and all along route 29.

The "29 bypass" is being funded by VDOT for businessmen from southern Virginia, not for local commuters. It isn't going to help your commute, it is likely to make it worse. Much time and study has supported newer alternative transportation plans, the official local plans now in place, as being much better for local commuters. Changing Route 29 into a new major highway is not going to help Albemarle County.

Southern Virginia businessmen want route 29 to be a new major highway, for the convenience of truck transportation to and from their businesses. T If you believe VDOT and these businessmen, then you believe that this little Charlottesville 29 bypass will be such a major convenience for truck traffic that it will greatly improve their businesses in Lynchburg and Danville. The obvious conclusion to this logic is that it will attract MORE TRUCK TRAFFIC all along route 29. Residents of Charlottesville and the new communities all along Route 29 will suffer a loss of quality of life as MORE interstate and non-local, TRUCK traffic comes down 29 from Washington D.C. Traffic studies have already been done that show that most of the traffic on 29 is local traffic and the original bypass route is obsolete for the purposes of improving local traffic problems.

The Southern Virginia business community and VDOT, DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THE QUALITY OF LIFE in Albemarle County, OR YOUR COMMUTE. They want to harness your commuter frustrations to get support for a new "interstate" 29 coming right through Madison, Green, and Charlottesville. Politicians are pressuring VDOT to satisfy their political business donors.

By the way, all these new transportation dollars looking for a place to be spent, are not FREE money. They are money the State of Virginia just BORROWED, and for which you, as a Virginia taxpayer, will eventually need to repay. Why should the residents of Albemarle County and Charlottesville support an outdated, ineffective road that will decrease our quality of life in our local region?

Unless that truck traffic has an alternate route around the congestion that has been encouraged to flourish North of Warrenton and which has spread as far as Ruckersville and even the Airport road area, then saving a few minutes by going around Charlottesville isn't going to make much if any difference in the time it takes to get from NOVA to Lynchburg or Danville.

Amigo1 says:
"Picture four to eight lanes going through the countryside from Ruckersville through Earlysville, Free Union, and Ivy, down to North Garden. Thats what an actual bypass would need to look like. Think about that, and weep."

Weep?!? I'd cheer it! Something needs to be done, I think that this is an awesome start!

Donna, did you oppose the Meadowcreek Parkway if you object to degradation of the quality of life of our community. Many of us feel this road through our park should be stopped, but all county folks do is cheer it on for their convenience. Maybe now it's time City folks to cheer for a ByPass in the County. And yes many of us would use that road to get from the University area to suburbs, parks, and shopping north of it's terminus. It would assist local traffic.

Oh yes ParkPlace, as a City resident I would love to have a bypass, around all the COunty crap development. After all, they want me to pay to build a dam for them, and give up my parks for them so they can drive easily, I think they should give up their land for my convenience. Why should I waste gas driving trough their stoplights? In fact, I think there should be an Eastern and a Western bypass, so I can go out the south side of town, and cut through to just north of Airport Rd. And the county can pay for it. The city can just pay for its little tidbit. It would be far more convenient for me, and help 'business' in the county immensely.

One good turn deserves another.

It's a bypass that would have been GREAT about 20 years ago. Now it will dump out into the middle of traffic on 29 North. So the state is going to throw a bone to Lynchburg and Danville and build an OUTDATED road that will do little or nothing to help us locally -- all paid for with our tax dollars.

And this sounds like a good idea to some of you folks, huh? It's not the bypass concept that's the problem, it's the actual plan for it. We should spend the extra money NOW so we're not having this same conversation in 5 years!

This bypass concept is only alive through inertia from stale, mid-20th century ideals. There was a time when major roadway capacity improvements helped the flow of goods and services enough to justify their expense. In fact, that's when Charlottesville built its first US 29 bypass, and it made sense. But the highwaymen are dogmatic, and the trucking industry has grown fond of their government subsidies, so we're told, even in 2011, that we have no choice but to spend and pave perpetually until ... who knows?

But if any of the following scenarios play out in the next several decades - or a combination of each scenario - then we'll be stuck with a $270 million-dollar bond and maintenance obligations for a roadway few people want.

1. Freight and passenger rail improvements along the 29 corridor are made, maybe high-speed or maybe conventional, and a sizable amount of through-traffic is diverted from US 29. The Lynchburg-Washington passenger line has already become very popular with minimal investment, and expansion down to Danville, along with more scheduling options, leads to significant ridership gains.

2. Oil prices go up, and some drive-alone commuters shift to carpooling, transit, bicycling, or walking as alternatives. The higher price point also compels a shift in land use decisions that reduce the need for driving and make these alternatives feasible. Traffic is relieved. Even the most optimistic oil analysts do not expect it to remain as cheap as it now is.

3. Driverless car technology is perfected and put into public use. The head of the Google department that is developing a prototype has predicted that widespread adoption of this technology could cut the number of vehicles on roadways by half, because of their more efficient use of existing space and ability to function as taxis. This is not science fiction, but being tested right now.

4. The expected federal gas tax revenue that the money for this roadway is borrowed from never materializes. Every transportation policy wonk knows that the gas tax system is broken, and it's unclear whether our lawmakers will be able to agree on a viable alternative. We don't know who will get stuck with the tab for this once someone gets around to paying for it.

Remember: this road must be needed for decades to be worth the price. We have to imagine the future. An automobile-dominated transportation system may be familiar to us, but it's utility is not built into the foundation of the universe. It was the product a particular era of history, as a result of particular legislative actions.

Bravo, New Reality.

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about....we spend millions of $$ and oodles of time looking at stuff....Lets start building and making jobs!

Then when everything is all said and done, we'll have a scenic new road to drive on PLUS the possibility of more businesses growing along those same new roads providing MORE business opportunities and Jobs for all...


Hey's OK if we plow this thing through your backyard, right?

Cool! I'll honk on my way by.

Hmmmm....interesting point Caroline BUT I don't live on a scenic view that provides a short cut to some place worthwhile ;-)

On the flip side, some people are compensated quite well for the land....Matter of fact my Dad got some $$ from letting a power line across his property....and he was happy with the $$!

While I realize, that not all people want to give up land etc for whatever reason ... sometimes we have to do things for the overall good....NOW if only politics worked that way we'd all be in better shape.

The solution is actually very simple, if everyone who moved down to this area from New York and New Jersey would return home there wouldn't be a traffic problem.