Fast track: Western Bypass shifts into overdrive

It had been a long, politically charged night in Lane Auditorium. Inside this main room of the Albemarle County Office Building, there were accusations of "socialism" vs. "flat earth" in a standing-room-only environmental debate. Those of us who departed after five hours of that acrimony, however, missed the biggest news of the evening. Maybe the biggest news of the year.

Twenty-one years after its route was plotted, the U.S. 29 Western Bypass roared back to life.

To listen to a recording of the Board of Supervisors meeting, one can tell that chair Ann Mallek thought the meeting had already ended.

"I think we have come to the end of our official agenda," says a cheerful Mallek, thanking the weary crowd as they file out just after 11:30pm. Mallek then asks whether any of her fellow members of the Board of Supervisors has any issue to raise. One of them does. And history was made just before midnight on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.

The forgotten road?
There are people now running for elective office who literally wore diapers when the basic route of the Western Bypass was approved. Certainly, today's college students were diapered then– if they were alive in 1990, the year that state officials selected the route for getting vehicles around the stoplights that slow the passage of buses, trucks, soccer moms, and everyone else.

Back then, the traffic signal and the 7-11 store at Woodbrook Road formed Charlottesville's northern outpost along the road also known as Seminole Trail. To the west lay the just-completed Rio Hill Shopping Center. To the north, Forest Lakes was under construction, but there was no Hollymead Town Center, no UVA Research Park. Farther north, Ruckersville was then little more than Boot'vil and a smattering of old buildings clustered around the intersection with U.S. 33.

Still, on the day it was born, the chosen route was declared obsolete in some camps. The planned route got lengthened a few years later to get a little over half a mile past the South Fork of the Rivanna River. But that's as far as it would go.

Opposition quickly mounted. For obvious reasons, homeowners in the path were aghast. Local officials got involved, and by 1992, the so-called "Three-Party Agreement" made widening U.S. 29 a priority in an effort to delay– and possibly prevent– the Bypass. Two additional steps that were supposed to happen before building the Western Bypass were grade-separated interchanges at several intersections and construction of another road known as the Meadowcreek Parkway (the latter of which is now under construction).

Fortunately for Bypass opponents, the interchange that VDOT, the Virginia Department of Transportation, proposed for Hydraulic Road looked like some sort of cosmic spaceplex. Businesses along the corridor coalesced in opposition, and the interchanges died.

The Bypass would continue to earn infamy because its chosen six-mile path preceded  much of the northern U.S. 29 development. Its high per-mile cost, its inability to get around those northern suburbs, and the state's own research suggesting that 90 percent of existing 29 traffic is local, led a national group called Taxpayers for Common Sense to name the Western Bypass one of the most wasteful road projects in the nation.

Meanwhile, the state had begun buying up properties for the Western Bypass including, in October 1991, two residential parcels in the Squirrel Ridge neighborhood. Those purchases would take on major significance 20 years later in the spring of 2011.

Dorrier's decision
"I want to bring up the Bypass issue and move to change my vote," says Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier that night in Lane Auditorium.

With those words began one of the more unusual– some might say bizarre– episodes in the history of the six-member Board of Supervisors, a body that changed dramatically in November 2009 with the election-day ouster of Democrat David Slutzky and the ascent of Republicans Rodney Thomas and Duane Snow. Together with incumbent Republican Ken Boyd and conservative Democrat Dorrier, the newcomers created a four-vote bloc tipping the balance of power. Never was the tip more evident than that Wednesday night, just one week after a similar discussion led to a 3-3 tie.

"The rule from the chair: we're not going to change a vote tonight," responds the still-smiling chairperson Mallek, a Democrat. "It's not part of the agenda. The meeting is closed."

That's when Boyd pipes up to say the meeting isn't closed. He's right about that. He prods the County attorney to explain that by taking three separate votes, the Supervisors can continue to make policy– as long as their first vote reverses their own recently-adopted rule on the public process.

"I can't believe I'm sitting on a board that will change the rules at the drop of a hat," says a clearly angry Supervisor Dennis Rooker, a man who built his political career on rural preservation including opposition to the Bypass.

"There's been a motion made and seconded, Mr. Rooker," says Boyd. "You can continue to argue if you want to."

One of the things concerning the opposition is that Dorrier is reading from a printed motion provided by another supervisor, Rodney Thomas, and Dorrier has such trouble reading it that Boyd begins interjecting words to assist his fellow supe, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease.

"It's his motion," interrupts Rooker. "Let him make it."

As Dorrier gathers his thoughts, he asserts that what changed his mind was a half-hour conversation with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, in which the Bypass-eager Secretary allegedly promises that the plan also includes full funding for a widening of U.S. 29, as well as a new bridge to extend Berkmar Drive northward over the Rivanna River.

"When he said all that," says Dorrier, "I said I would switch my vote and go forward immediately."

"And as a bonus we get a Bypass," says Snow. "What more can we ask for?"

"Have you seen this in writing?" asks an incredulous Mallek. "We will see our Hillsdale [Drive Extension] money and all the other money leave those projects that are our highest priority. They have the power to move the funds around within the district at their discretion."

"I am horrified that people think this is an acceptable way to behave," says Mallek, as three consecutive 4-2 votes, with her and Rooker on the losing side, begin the fast-tracking of the Western Bypass.

Joy in Lynchville
If there was horror in some quarters of Albemarle, the decision brought joy in Lynchburg, a bastion of manufacturing located about an hour south of Charlottesville. Businesspeople in Lynchburg, and further south in Danville, have long complained that Charlottesville remains an expensive bottleneck for trucking operations, which in 2005 won a bypass around the Lynchburg suburb of Madison Heights. Such businesses found their voice in Lynchburg-based State Senator Steven Newman.

"We are very pleased with the decision by the Albemarle Board," Newman said in a post-vote prepared statement, which noted how he approached Transportation Secretary Connaughton for assistance during last winter's legislative session.

"Secretary Connaughton is the right man to move us toward finally seeing the construction of the 29 bypass," Newman continued. "I had indicated to the Secretary that if he did not get the road built during his time in office, the project would likely fail."

Newman is alluding to the expiration date on properties purchased for road projects which Virginia law clearly allows the buyer to repurchase if 20 years have elapsed without construction. For two Squirrel Ridge homeowners, that date had almost arrived.

An easier way?
It's not just big business owners in Lynchburg and Danville who relish the idea of getting past the 13 traffic lights between Rt. 250 and Walmart that currently vex drivers along Seminole Trail.

Terrie Brown is the mother of a soccer player who has to be at the South Fork Soccer Park up on Polo Grounds Road as many as four times a week.

"I try to avoid 29 whenever possible," says Brown, whose rising sixth grade son has soccer practice there three times a week. The timing of the practice– 5pm– is peak rush hour on 29. So Brown, who owns Browns Cleaners in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, has come up with a bypass of her own when traveling from her Ivy home, taking Woodlands Road to Rio to 29, allowing her to skip many of the signals she'd hit if she entered at the 250 intersection.

Brown says she's not the only Western Albemarle resident to find creative alternate routes, including one unmarked gravel road that she's heard connects Woodlands to Seminole Trail. "People go to all efforts to avoid 29," she says.

But even though Brown says she'd personally benefit from lightened traffic and a speedier route, she has concerns about the impact the bypass will have, and the limited information thus far provided to the public.

"I think it would be a good thing," she says, "but what's the downside?"

The late Charlotte Humphris
Before Dennis Rooker joined the Board of Supervisors, there was Charlotte Humphris. Now immortalized with a County park in her name, Humphris discovered that the planned path would destroy four homes in her Colthurst subdivision. She went on to serve three terms on the Board and was a vocal opponent. She died in 2004, three years after her final term ended.

"She would have been very upset," says her widower, Bob Humphris.

"It's the first time in my experience watching the board for 55 years that I've ever seen anything like that," continues Humphris. "That tactic– to not notify the public or have it on the agenda– I don't know if it's unethical, but it seems like it is."

As for Lindsay Dorrier's vote change, "I'm so disappointed in what he did," says Humprhis. "I know in the past his financial statements show he gets his money from developers and builders. Somehow they got to him. They have high connections to Connaughton. I know Lindsay didn't do it himself. It's like a conspiracy to get this done."

Humphris says VDOT traffic counts show that only 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles a day of through traffic will get diverted by the Bypass, not the 55,000 cars and 10,000 trucks touted as bottlenecked by the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

"For Republicans to be so tax conscious and then to put that money into a bypass where the cost-benefit is so low... " muses Humphris.

Interviewed a few days later, Rooker too is still fuming, and he feels sorry for the 67-year-old Dorrier, who suffers from debilitating Parkinsons, a disease that has physical and sometimes mental effects.

"I think Lindsay is in an impaired state," says Rooker. "I've observed in meetings he's often confused. Do I think he can be manipulated? Yes, because he gets confused."

But Dorrier recoils at the suggestion.

"That's an opinion I don't share," he says in a telephone interview. "I take my medication. I stand by the decision, and I think it'll be beneficial to the public."

And as for the late night approval, that came about because, Dorrier concedes, he was late to the meeting and that the first chance he got to make his motion was at the end of the meeting, after the lengthy sustainability discussion.

"I don't think it was improper," he continues. "The rules were suspended by the board. A majority thought it was important enough to suspend the rules."

As for the criticism of no public input: "I think there's been public input over the years," says Dorrier.

"This is the first time I've heard there's public funding– $260 or $270 million," says Dorrier. "Some of the money will come from Lynchburg and Danville. They want a bypass so badly they're giving up their funding. I thought that was the right thing to do. The mechanics of getting to it were a little messy."

Stillhouse Mountain
If there is a single most beautiful point along the six-mile Western Bypass route, it might be Stillhouse Mountain Farm. Less than a mile from the city limits and standing 797 feet tall, it's just 53 feet lower than Monticello Mountain. And like Monticello, it offers proverbial– and actual– 360-degree views.

"You can see Monticello; you can see Afton and the Blue Ridge," says Peggy McLean, who has lived here with her husband, a retired doctor, since 1982, long before there was any whiff of a bypass.

"Do you mind riding in a Gator?" asks McLean.

An athletic 88-year-old who works out at ACAC health club, McLean bounds into the driver's seat of the John Deere vehicle for an impromptu farm tour.

"I want so much to buy it back, to get the land back," says McLean, noting that the state has already purchased 9 of the couple's original 32 acres.

She points out that the house, constructed in 1935, comes from a similar design and vintage as Westover, a nearby mansion now owned by the University of Virginia Foundation. And like Westover, which UVA rents out for parties, the Stillhouse Mountain house features a classical portico with four white columns that gleam in the afternoon light.

"It's a shame," says McLean, mentioning the countless meetings she and her husband would attend in an attempt to convince authorities to move or cancel the road or give it some of the protection that Westover won when the Bypass was planned.

Like Westover, the house was constructed for a scion of the Faulconer family, and the McLeans tried to convince the state that the place was historic. At one point they won a meeting with then governor George Allen.

"He just shrugged his shoulders," says McLean.

The couple urged VDOT to put the tunnel underground. Too expensive they were told. McLean– who remembers earth-shaking blasting that presaged the early 1990s construction of the Colonnades nursing home– can't imagine how she'll possibly cope with the dynamite blasts that will demolish one side of this mountain.

As the off-road vehicle steers past century-old oak trees, McLean points out the barn where her daughter– one of seven children– used to tend the family horses. This may soon be separated from the core of the property by a four-lane freeway.

As the Gator slows, a visitor can hear the chirp of birds and the occasional muffled hum from the existing 29/250 Bypass, which lies three-fifths of a mile away. The new Bypass– with its diesel trucks throttling up to climb what was once the McLeans' mountain– will come much closer. How close?

As McLean steers the green machine back toward the house, she points out one particular oak tree standing just 100 yards or so from her front door. The tree represents the edge of the Western Bypass property.

"We can't sell, and we can't settle anything," says McLean. "It's just a huge thing hanging over our heads at our age."

An imperfect path
"Everyone seems to be looking for the perfect solution," says the Secretary of Transportation, Sean Connaughton, in a telephone interview a couple of days after the historic Supervisors' vote. "We recognize it's not a perfect solution, but it is a major step forward."

Connaughton clarifies that his conversation with Dorrier did not include any promises about funding Berkmar Drive Extended or any extra bridge across the Rivanna River.

"The discussion I had with him was specifically about this project," says Connaughton, further clarifying that he considers the planned widening of U.S. 29 the only other part of the discussion.

If one asks VDOT for a map of the Bypass, what one gets are little black-and-white sketches that make no effort to show the road in its geographic context. What is known is this:

Its southernmost point is the existing 29/250 Bypass across from Leonard Sandridge Road, the main gateway to the North Grounds of the University of Virginia (which was built in 2006). The Bypass starts by taking the eastern border of St. Anne's-Belfield School. During a decade-ago public hearing, the giant maps adorning the wall showed that the existing 29/250 Bypass would be relocated– shifted a few dozen yards or so from its current footprint– to make the interchanges work.

From there it heads north toward Stillhouse Mountain, slicing off the western edge of that peak before lopping off four houses from the eastern edge of the Colthurst subdivision, crossing Garth Road and lopping five houses off the western edge of the Montvue subdivision. From there, it moves northeast to wrap around and eat about 15 acres off the back side of the Albemarle County Schools complex that includes Albemarle High, Jack Jouett Middle, and Mary Carr Greer Elementary.

It then crosses Lambs, Roslyn Ridge, and Earlysville Roads. At that point, it destroys part of the Squirrel Ridge subdivision, a place profiled three years ago in a Hook cover story that explored the limbo of living in a neighborhood whose existence is uncertain.

From there, the Bypass slides just behind the businesses that line Hydraulic-Rio Road as it steers toward Woodburn Road, which it cuts as it heads toward the south fork of the Rivanna River just behind the Walmart, Sam's Club, and DoubleTree Hotel. Atop a new bridge (which should afford close views of the Rivanna Reservoir's dam), the road then moves through forested land parallel to the existing U.S. 29 as it finally intersects 915 meters north of the river. The northern interchange lies between Forest Lakes South and Polo Grounds Road.

In the (Squirrel) Path
Located on a bluff near the Rivanna Reservoir just off Earlysville Road, the Squirrel Ridge subdivision comprises 24 houses on two curvy cul-de-sacs. It was here in the fall of 1991 that the state made two of its earliest purchases for the neighborhood-breaking Bypass.

According to Virginia Code Section 33.1-90, VDOT must begin construction within 20 years of purchasing any property. If construction does not begin within that time frame, the former owner has 90 days to request the parcel back for the price VDOT paid.

When the Hook did the story about the plight of Squirrel Ridge, some of the former homeowners were saIivating about the idea of buying back their houses at the their 1991 prices.

One real estate collapse later, however, and that prospect has dimmed.

"This market is so bad I am actually glad not to have to make the decision now," says former Squirrel Ridge resident Joe Graham. "The value of the house is not much different than it was twenty years ago."

Nonetheless, the folks in Lynchburg were well aware of the impending deadline, which for Joe Graham's house may have been as soon as October 30.

"We were getting very close to the dates when the right of way would be required to be returned or sold back to the former owners," says Senator Newman in his statement. "This would have killed the bypass forever. “

Fast-track
What the 4-2 Albemarle Board of Supervisors votes did was clear a path for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the 5-member regional body that can give a red or green light to road projects. Until now, the MPO has stalled the Bypass by refusing to put it on the list of construction-funded projects. But with Supervisors Thomas and Snow and a VDOT rep expected to form at least a three-vote majority, there appears little to derail the Bypass.

The state Secretary of Transportation says the governor is on board and although he dismisses the word "intervention," the sudden high-level interest in Charlottesville's most controversial road project appears to leave little wiggle room for opponents, who may recall that a road called the Meadowcreek Parkway foundered until a U.S. Senator named John Warner suddenly found a $27-million federal earmark to build the missing interchange.

"If everything works perfectly and if everyone signs off on this thing," says Connaughton, "we could be looking to go to a contract by the end of this year."

--with additional reporting by Lisa Provence and Courteney Stuart

63 comments

I've supported building a western bypass for more than 30 years now, but I can't see how anyone could have any respect at all for Boyd, Thomas and Snow after this stunt. The supervisors meet every week and Dorrier could have moved to revisit the issue at any time. Put it on the agenda, take the heat from the public, and vote in the light of day.

Unbelievable antics from a BOS that is clearly in the pocket of developers and could care less about keeping Albemarle the beautiful spot that it is. What a bunch of corrupt b@st@rds. A western bypass is completely unnecessary--the trucks all take 81. Time for Paranoid Boyd and his tea party friends to go.

great example of how the Rs and tea baggers are full of crap. this is a major spend of federal and state dollars, yet they support it as it somehow will pay off for some key republicans. exactly why the Rs whining about the debt is pure BS. its not an issue of saving money, its always about who gets to control the spend.

The BOS's have been putting this off so a few rich people wouldn't have to put up with the rest of us driving on their plantations, the whining is about to start. I have sat in the long lines on 29 going on the bypass for ever now despite them we might get some help.

OK, so I've only lived here for three weeks, so I still think Crozet is a game you play with wood mallets in your backyard, but isn't the idea of a bypass to actually pass by something? This described route seems to not go out and around the busy areas, but parallel them just a mile or less to the west. 20 years seems to change (eliminate?) the benefits of the original route. After that long, shouldn't there be another round of review?

If Boyd's recent antics aren't enough for the AlbCo voters to give him the heave-ho, then they deserve what they get. I've known him since long before he became an elected official, and he's a radical. What he, Snow, and Thomas did the other night has given the BOS a black eye.

Cynthia Neff just announced that she's running for Boyd's seat. Let's hope that she coasts to a victory. Albemarle County deserves some sanity.

Will abandoning the current reservoir open up any development opportunities?

How many exits are there from the proposed bypass? Might more be added either while under construction or later?

Who would benefit from any fortunate combination of exit and potential new sites for development if we build an unneeded dam and a pointless bypass? Who might benefit in some other way that I'm not considering?

I bet there's more to that combination of decisions than might meet the eye right now.

It is shocking and sad that this was done in this way. What about the impact on the Ivy Creek Natural area across from Squirrel Ridge? And Jim is right-- after 20 years, any route should be replanned with utmost consideration. For a county that has chosen to cram houses together onto lots that are barely a tenth of an acre in order to preserve green space to then turn around and plow through mountains, park and preservation areas, and longstanding homes in established communities (and to do so in such a shady way) is reckless, wrong, and utterly disappointing for those who have supported the board and/ or held pride in this community.

I wonder if the "trucking lobby" had anything to do with this
move.

@pic2 " In 1998, the Piedmont Environmental Council sued the U.S. Department of Transportation, alleging that the Bypass would come too close to the Rivanna Reservoir. The suit lost on most counts but produced an additional environmental study which found little likelihood of harm to the Reservoir. "

Why wasn't PEC concerned about the new enlarged Ragged Mt. Reservoir going under I64 ?

It seems to me that the current western bypass route is obsolete and would do little to alleviate congestion on 29. Finishing Hillsdale Dr. and opening Meadowcreek Pkwy would probably do more.

Generally, the answer to congestion is not additional roads but improved transit--ask any transportation planner. Unfortunately, the current BOS is interested only in enriching their friends (like the vandal Wendell Wood) and is not interested in proven solutions like transit-oriented development, which has done wonders for Arlington.

At a minimum, another study should be done before building a western bypass on the current route; what may have been a solution 20 years ago would be folly now. Blasting a mountain is a terrible idea in itself. Does the BOS care nothing for the beauty of the countryside?

Finally, I lived in NoVA for two decades, and people here should quit their whining about 29. It's really not that bad.

The bypass will be a necessity with the development of the shopping complex at Hydraulic and 29. It is almost impossible to cross over 29 in the evenings

The bypass plan is outdated, everybody knows this. Dumping out below Hollymead -- seriously, people. Is this worth $300 million out of our pockets? Regardless, the MANNER by which this came to be is despicable. Third world dictatorships operate with more transparency than what we've seen from Boyd, Thomas and Dorrier. Shameful behavior from our elected officials and I believe they will pay dearly in their future political careers. Big "oops" from these supes.

It's about time. Thank you supervisors for making it finally happen.

Caroline,

Dumping below Hollymeade would not help thru-traffic, but it would help Charlottesville resident,s and county residents like me on the south side. County residents are only too happy to cut through Charlottesville Park, so I think a little turn about is entirely deserved.

Of course, the bye pass would still be reasonable if the urban sprawl was kept in check to begin with. Development should not be allowed to use through highways like 29 for access.

I think that money should be used first to fix what Governor Allen and a few poor business whiners destroyed to begin with - access roads and over passes at places like Hydraulic.

this will not alleviate "the Charlottesville Mixing Bowl" where 250 bypass intersects w 64 along w the Fontaine traffic mergiing - if anyone drives this at rush hour in the evenings.... it is a dangerous place! Semis are "parked" on 29 trying to turn left onto 64 west.

@ A Driver

The 64 meets 29/20 bypass intersection does need work to improve safety at rush hours.

A Road to Nowhere.

@things2thinkon - I agree wholeheartedly with your remarks. I retraced the route as described in the Hook article and I don't see how this cannot have a major impact on Ivy Creek Natural Area. The noise alone would be a major impact, not to mention the pollution. I also don't see how this 6 mile stretch is going to significantly decrease the drive time for trucks heading south. State Senator Newman must have some powerful business and trucking lobbies in his pockets. BOS needs to get their collective act together and build the planned interchanges along the existing 29 corridor (hello? Places29), finish Meadowcreek and Hillsdale and leave the Western Bypass on the shelf collecting dust where it ought to be. Oh, and if they (BOS on up Sec. Connaughton) think they're fast-tracking this cockamamie outdated plan, I've got news for them: I'll strap myself to the bulldozers to stop them!! This fight is only beginning.....

"Will abandoning the current reservoir open up any development opportunities?"

Hard to envision much opportunity for development without an adequate water supply.

"20 years seems to change (eliminate?) the benefits of the original route."

The route was obsolete when it was designed. Might have been a decent idea 20 years before that. At this point, a western bypass would have to go at least to the airport and preferably to Ruckersville to really do any good.

It's hard to argue that the bypass as planned doesn't account for Charlottesville stretching to Ruckersville. But the surveys on traffic need to be done over with Hollymead finished, Forest Lakes expanded, etc.

I drive from the Belmont to almost the Greene line each day, and would love getting onto 250 at Free Bridge then stay on limited access highways all the way to just south of Hollymead. I'm sure there are plenty of new residents of Greene, Hollymead and Forest Lakes who would love to get on a highway close to home and get off at McIntyre to go to work downtown each morning. NGIC workers could live in town and not have a murderous commute, helping the tax base.

I can't say the bypass should or shouldn't be built, but it is definitely not the disaster it's being made out to be.

Jim,

Try that drive of yours in the opposite direction some time. Believe it or not, Ruckersville to Forest Lakes can actually take you longer than Forest Lakes to Hydraulic during the morning rush. And for those of us who live off 29 between the South Fork and the city line, this road does very little. Whereas the Hillsdale and Berkmar extensions would do a lot. Like I said at the top, I've been a bypass supporter for a long time. But building this road amounts to fighting the last war, and the thing that makes some people think it's a disaster is that it's going to take money away from other projects that are arguably much better thought out and more relevant to our current traffic problems.

Boondoggle big time. The lynchburg and danville benefits are miniscule A road like this helps developers get easier access to more land. It is not a bypasd. Some serious "good old boy" old-fashioned deal making went into that late night vote. Pretty unlikely it would get built in its present co figuration anyway.

The old bypass route was obsolete 10 years before it was drafted, and is beyond obsolete now, sort of like a gastric bypass that puts everything right back in the stomach where it all started. Even 20 years ago the only bypass route that made sense would have been one starting near Piney Mtn. and debouching at the current intersection of 29&64. This would still work if such a road had no local exits or entrances other than its two terminal points.
Be that as it may, examples abound elsewhere in the nation where highway improvements include grade separated interchanges which avoid the problems inherent in the current lunacy of an 8 lane road with dozens of traffic lights, some only a few hundred feet apart. In other parts of the country a road like 29 would have central express lanes with just a few grade separated interchanges and local traffic handled by frontage roads. The small number of access points would make the route impractical for local traffic and would require improvements to the local road network so that it would no longer be the present system of 19th century cow paths paved over and straightened here and there. As it is, local traffic pretty much has to converge on Charlottesville no matter what the ultimate destination and 29 being the convergence artery for everyone living north of town gives us what we have now: rush hour congestion rivaling LA.
Part of the problem is Virginia's old-south heritage of being cheap about infrastructure, which results in road projects being done ad-hoc and piecemeal so that no coherent strategy ever evolves. Given the likelihood that the USA's future economic prospects don't include the endless growth paradigm we've grown up with, it's dubious public funding will become available for a bypass and a more realistic approach may be to start closing off crossings on 29 and building grade separated interchanges one by one so that in 25 years we may evolve to the combination of express lanes and frontage roads which would reduce the commingling of through traffic with local.

This is a project that will alleviate congestion and serve as an economic driver to the community. It comes geographically close to me on two counts and I still support it. Looking back, it will be viewed as the right decision.

Ivy Creek Fan, I'm with you on tactics. Politicians don't give a damn about reelection, once they find these kind of opportunities.
A plan to obstruct and stall could have stopped that "parkway" for good.

Dennis Rooker stoops to blame Dorrier's Parkinson's? Unbelievable!
Seems he didn't bring that up in the previous meeting where he practically browbeat Dorrier to get him to vote against the bypass. When the vote went his way Rooker seemed quite pleased but after Dorrier's reversal he brings blames mental defect?

Why didn't the Hook do a little extra research and find out that the bypass goes right through Rooker's neighborhood? He'll be able to see it from his backyard. Shouldn't Rooker or the Hook have mentioned this? I don't know if it's a conflict of interest but not mentioning that is an important point in showing Rooker's motivation.

Most of us arguing about this motorway are adults, but we should really be asking our children what they think of it. VDOT barely has any money for new roads at all, and certainly not a quarter of a billion lying around. If we are going to ask our children to buy this for us and take care of it when we're done, at least we should solicit their opinion.

Michael,

I'm with you. I've seen the hangup from Airport Road to GE ten times for every one I've had major trouble getting to work. If this is going to happen, it should north of the Sheetz in Greene. But if it might happen, I'd be fine with it letting out where it's plotted to now, and 90% of the time it would still ease your commute. When I miss the greenspace lost, I'll drive north on 20. Or south on 20. Or west on 250. Or east on 33. Or west on 33. Or south on 29.

Unbelievable- a bypass? Truly a road to nowhere. And then they are going to GASH that mountain. Like those fools in Richmond with their new lousy 288. They actually had the gall to put ANOTHER bridge over the damn James River. What fool thinks that it is so important to get somewhere so fast. For me, I would have made them widen 95 and 64 to 20 lanes and keep everything central. Throw up a few bike lanes and the Richmonders would have it good. I was homeless, living on the Mall, until I got a great job busing tables and working weekends at Best Buy. More sprawl that comes with a bypass might put our system here out of balance. Right now it is mostly rich or poor, but the rich tend to be nice and help the poor out. The city even built that great bus station so poor people could have some shelter. The early city leaders made a good choice in making it hard to have a fast way around anything; instead we build right on a few roads and everything is all together and all the traffic is just in a few places. Yes, this makes for more pollution than a car going 60, but soon our town will most likely have all electric rides and pollution will disappear. Currently, I ride a bike but I am soon getting an electric scooter. Our city is so Shangri-La-esque that this politician from Lynchburg wants to get it for himself. He probably thinks that all of our service jobs will head south when his road gets built, but we will still have the school and the fort and they aren't leaving. I've heard that where he comes from has 20-30% unemployment but I think they just say that to make us here in Charlottesville feel sorry for them. It doesn't work. I met a guy who lived in Lynchburg and he played it off like he was doing good, with an engineering job. I'm sure he wasn't really any better off then me... and he even went to UVA. My friends estimate that our work in Charlottesville puts us in about the same category as the average engineer in Lynchburg and that is why they want this highway. Fools, every last one of them. I think that they really need to start a commuter bus system that can bring those people up here where the jobs are really good and pay really well. That would help their sad lack of jobs more than this road. I think that we ought to give all that land back to the state and keep it as a nature preserve. Thankfully we have our very own Sierra Club that helps our government decide the future and we also have a law center that will fight the highway down to the last man standing. Maybe we should refer to this road plan as "The Road Around the Heaven," because if it happens that is what it would be and it is so sad that so many people would miss driving through, even if it does slow them down.

I wonder where the money will come from ? According to Sean Tubbs it's not in the budget, and they will have to rob Peter to pay Paul, and Paul may not like that.

Mr. Connaughton may have overstepped.

http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/06/ctb-...

The near-in Western Bypass is about one thing: getting wealthy football and men's basketball donors in and out of their Scott Stadium and JPJ reserved parking spaces and skyboxes more comfortably. How about a news story on UVA's road clout? Wahoo Wealth couldn't get its outbound North Grounds road bulldozed until former Supervisor Charlotte Humphris died. Wahoo Wealth had to pay for that road itself, but that was chump change for the sports suite set with UVA already owning the land for Sandridge Drive. Now, with the right Board of Supervisors seated in Albemarle, the right administration at the State Capital, and the right power on the Commonwealth Transportation Board and in the Secretary of Transportation's chair, Wahoo Wealth north and south of Charlottesville has finally succeeded in shifting millions of taxpayer transportation dollars to pave the way to their 50-yard-line and center court season ticket seats. The Public, Process, and Property (everyone else's) be damned!

CHOUVA- but it is "shovel ready......."

PS Boyd doesn't live in the 29 north corridor. Wonder if he really understands the sophisticated analysis above.

It's so obviously stupid and the process was so obviously poor. All we've gotten fom him is more development, without environmental controls, no pedestrian access to H Town Centre, no recycling, reduced green space, watered dwon or waived proferrs, flop flops, and now UN environmental conspiracies too apparently.

Why we have elections. Had enouf of Boyd? - Neff is running as breath of fresh air and sanity. But we need to get out and vote.

I wish all you county environmentalists were as upset about destroying McIntire Park with the MeadowCreek Parkway, as you are about the Western Bypass.

How about it PEC-- when will you sue to protect our water supply reservoir at Ragged Mt. from being overtopped by a highway, not a road coming close, no, a road going over the water supply

What hypocrites !

Thanks BOS for finding the lost backbone that the BOS for 30 years had lost. When in town, I have to "snake' around town on back streets hoping to scoot someplace quicker than fighting US-29 and the nonsense cast upon the great but unfortunately liberalized Ablemarle County. Rodney...Lindsay...my mother and father are looking down with smiles on their faces about what you all are doing. You are leaders that Albemarle Co. lost decades ago to liberal, limp wristed liberals doing their environmental politcally correct first amendment theivery. Bless you all and I pray for your safety as the silliness will begin once again and sell papers in CVille.

LMH, since when is it being a "limp-wristed liberal" to stand up for fiscal responsibility and private property rights? Note that the bypass will require the government to spend huge amounts of taxpayer money, seize private property of citizens against their will, and engage in deficit spending. But I guess all of those supposedly conservative principles are out the window if there's a chance you won't have to "snake your way around town" anymore (And you'll still have to, by the way).

I'm sorry, but any politician who has to reassure the public that he cannot be manipulated by saying, "I take my medication..."? Albemarle, do yourselves a favor and vote this guy out.

Please, please, please don't destroy McIntyre Park. What a travesty. DO NOT GASH that mountain for a bypass, either. I love that our area is liberal and that we have men like Mr. Rooker who is able to show a soft, caring, and loving side.
LMH- you should be ashamed about comparing your meanderings to an animal- even a snake. You should have said something like "I have to sneak like a slimy Republican." By the way... what is bad about having a limp wrist anyway? I love McIntyre Park and I love that poor mountain that those evil WAHOO-LIGANS want to gash through. WAHOO WEALTH is evil and could well be the scourge of our society. So is wealth, in general... except for when the wealthy want to help the homeless and poor. Could someone please post links to the Sierra Club and to the people who are now trying to save the McIntyre Park? By the way New Reality, deficit spending is not bad when it is for the common good because this is a Democracy and if the rich aren't going to pay their fair share, the government should borrow so that the poor can get a leg up and eventually start paying their own taxes. Mr. Rooker is a true Renaissance Man.

Believe me LMH, those of is who live in the Cuty don't appreciate you snaking around our residential streets, and then snaking back into the county, where you comomplain about us not providing you better access. Traffic stinks because of sloppy county development mashed around the city.

I think the 29 by-pass as designed wouldn't really be as useful as an eastern one, but I am only too happy to let the county give up something that might benefit us in the city for once. I want to here the cries of outrage from those forced to give up their resources for the supposed common good, just like it was expected of the city.

I am not anti-growth, but I think that its time that people had a reality check on what effective growth looks like, and accepts the costs associated if you want convenience. You can't have your daily car commuter lifestyle, you can't just drive in and get free parking in people's neighborhoods, and keep them up all night. If you want traffic to move, you can't turn a big highway into your front driveway, and that's what has gone on with 29.

Oh, and Rooker is hardly a liberal. There are hardly any liberals in the area, but their are Democrats and Republicans who pay off their few special interest groups, and then screw everybody in the middle. As in, the developers and wealthy estate owners/mansion renovators get all the money, with a little left for public housing, and the rest of us get screwed. That's not a liberal agenda.

Good Lord Caesonia, a grammar check before hitting post would definitely make you feel better.

This proposal has been described by community activists as "one of the most wasteful and destructive road projects in the country" because of its negative impact on school safety and water supply, and its high cost. According to the local reporting, substantial local and state taxpayer money will be required, since federal funds are not available for this project.

Remember the taxpayer boondoggle of Biscuit Run? Rinse and repeat.

I'm a little bit stunned by the irony here. The Board had just held a lengthy public hearing on the alleged "conspiracy" from "outsiders" promoting local sustainability initiatives. Then they agreed, in the dead of night, to pass a historically unpopular project. Insane...or crazy like foxes?

I'm not going to indulge in paranoia, but the actions of the Board (abridging their own procedural rules; acting near midnight; lack of advance public notification) lead me to wonder whether the "outsiders" promoting "conspiracy" may be the developers whose interest the Board clearly serves.

If our forefathers felt and acted like most liberals in and around Charlottesville...well, you liberals wouldn't even be living here today. You would be somewhere else liberalizing another community complaining and creating problems there.
Do you really understand why you would be living somewhere else? No, you won't have a hint of why you would be living elsewhere. It is because CVille would beconsidered backwards by you and not a modern community to live in. It would be because the highways would consist of Siouan tribal trails, some cow and horse paths coupled with a few wagon trails here and there.
CVille's forefathers and the native indians over the past 300 years and beyond either made, sold, donated or gave up land to make the Jefferson Parkway's, US-29 (Seminole Trail), US-250 and many other assorted state and county roads. Many with great historical significance. It was the understanding of these community minded peoples that someone would give/sell some land here and another good citizens would do the same elsewhere to create the highways and byways we use today. It is our liberal carpetbagging nouveau Albemarlians that greedily plead environment, you are disturbing my view or the pleasant quiet of my off the path farmhome.
With the great increase in taxes over the past 50 years by you libs we can now afford these new roads which will speedily get us here and there.
Oh, I haven't spoken to the lousy proposal that was being cast upon us country bumpkins out east of CVille. The rich libs thought it was best to let them get their environment trashed, let them poor folks get the loud noises of the trucks and cars. Let them lose land to the new road...hey they haven't done well in life like we have. Our $1,000.000 estates are nothing compared to those little boxes out east. We lose value... they don"t.
Again, bravo to those who found the BOS backbone and stood up for the first time in decades in Albemarle Co. You can count on my small meager wage giving up something to help those that help us. Wake up Albemarle County! Have an Egyptian Spring and revolt over those libs at the BOS and all their friends. Thank God for liberty and freedom of speech as long as we can keep it.

Oh Susanna Nicholson, you better cry for us. The activists always hit the nail on the head when they have been activated. Thank God that we have community activists to combat that WAHOO WEALTH. EVERYONE hates a bypass except those bumpkins out east and down in Lynchburg and down in Danville. These road projects are the most wasteful and destructive in the country; their destruction would surely rank them among the tragedies that we imposed on the Gulf of Mexico and up at Valdez. Surely there is a conspiracy against our area.

Liberal this liberal that blah blah blah blah. Its always a cultural issue for you, isn't LMH? You can't think just based on facts, its got to be about ideology and labeling people. Sure, there are people with a different value set than you. Too bad. Next you try and get all teary eyed and reference the FFs, as if you represent a mindset that has any concept of what they were doing.

The FFs were liberals.They were the big raging liberals of their time, willing to actually put their lives on the line for it too, so that people like you, could sit here and vent your feelings in public without fear of reprisal from the government. They were against the government being run by religion and corporations and the government spying on you. Yep, that's right, they were against what is going on right now in our country. Look it up.

You'de be in a heck of a lot better shape right now, if the liberals like the FFs were in charge, because we wouldn't look like we do right now, that's for sure.

My family came here in 1818. When did your family arrive Caesonia? Many may think you arrived on Friday the 13th.
Minds in our school system have been bankrupted by the a lack of depth and appreciation of our great history. Do some reading and find out who was religious centuries back. Do some less liberal reading and pick up some good history books on our really great forefathers. Most of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were pastors. Man I was taught differently than most of you in this town.
I am proud of my conservative family upbringing, my church, my community and an opportunity to work and play in Albemarle Co. and I will continue to vote conservatively, encourage others to do the same in an attempt to right the wrongs of the carpetbaggers in this town.
Oh, where did you find your reference to big business back centuries ago. Sounds to me like you are using your lib terms of today for yesteryear. Revolting to end an oppressive government is not liberal. Teachers or your frame of mind must be taking the good conservative causes and using them to justify the present. Geewhiz!
I am sad for what you all have doing to our town as it grows. I appreciate the growth...the chance to work (not be on welfare) and see opportunity for all of us and our children. With growth and progress comes better roads, wider streets, and bike paths,etc. Bring it all on.

LMH, what revisionist history are your reading these days? Thomas Jefferson rewrote the bible, for goodness sake. Jefferson and Madison--yes, the founding fathers who wrote the constitution--were deists. That is a fact. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Maybe if you stopped regurgitating everything your pastor tells you and stop watching Fox news and start thinking for yourself, you will understand the simple ideas that Caesonia is trying to explain to you. By the way, my forebears came here in the late 1600s and the women in my family are all DAR and Colonial Dames, so put that in your FFV pipe and smoke it.

I LIKE IT

This will increase business along 29 North, as many residents avoid at all cost. As taking a dirt road and making there car dirty.

Charlottesville commuters seem to not utilize the current bypass of much as they should, but then it could just be the that the traffic flows exponentially faster without the nuisance of stoplights.

Besides, if the State is going to be spending money; who better then us!

"Minds in our school system have been bankrupted by the a lack of depth and appreciation of our great history."

And then are the revisionists like you who want to pretend that what you echo is gospel, and paint anything that doesn't suit you factually as liberal. Caesonia is right, that our FFs were very enlightened people. The Conservatives of the time were crown supporters who felt that religion should be state sponsored. The Boston Tea Party was a revolt against the large tax break that the British East India Company - a corporation - was getting, but the colonists and small businesses were not. So, the Conservatives of the time were doing pretty much what the Conservatvies of today want.

As Dawg says, you can have your opinion, but you don't get your own facts.

The fact is, our FFs were doing something that was quite progressive, aka liberal. What a shame that because you don't want to respect facts, you want to continue our downward spiral back towards a monarchy via things like unilateral presidencies and corporate rule via massive taxbreaks. Maybe you are stupid enough to think that this somehow benefits you, because it might mean a little less for minorities and women, but in the long run, you'll just be an indentured servant.

All because you want to 'hate' the liberals.

I'd be very careful aout slinging

This bypass is being built for two interests: truckers and UVA. UVA want to have ready access from Lenord Sandridge Rd srtaight up the new bypass to its research park. Truckers want to run trucks up and down 29 faster and cheaper. Both want YOU to borrow 300 million to make things a bit better for them. At its heart, its a classic scam.

It will not significantly improve rte 29 traffic.

Thousands of children will spend 12 years playing next to a freeway.

Hundreds of residents will seem their home values devestated without compensation (where are you property-rights tea party people when we need you?)

• Attend these important meetings and voice your concerns:
• June 20, 7 p.m.—Charlottesville City Council (City Council Chambers, 603 E. Main Street)
• July 6, 9 a.m.—Albemarle Board of Supervisors (Lane Auditorium, 401 McIntire Road)
• July 13, 6 p.m.—Albemarle Board of Supervisors (Lane Auditorium, 401 McIntire Road)
• July 14 (tentative)—Metropolitan Planning Organization (location to be determined)
• Write or email the Board of Supervisors or City Council asking them to reject the bypass.
• Meet one-on-one with the supervisors who took this action:
Supervisors Dorrier: riverstreet4444@yahoo.com 434-220-6371, Home: 286-2528
Supervisor Snow: dsnow@albemarle.org (434)284-0825
Supervisor Thomas: rthomas@albemarle.org (434) 242-3322
Supervisor Boyd: kboyd@albemarle.org 434-977-9981
• Write a letter-to-the-editor at the Daily Progress, The Hook, and C-ville Weekly.
• Spread the word to your neighbors, friends and colleagues.

Pekoe - spare us the hyperbole. The Bypass is being built to improve traffic flow through the region. The communities in the counties north and south of Albemarle support this, and it is very popular among those who need to travel up and down Rt 29 on a regular basis - we have no desire to endure the morass that has been created on Rt 29 North, and we haven't seen the impact of Stonefield yet. If if doesn't improve traffic on the giant Strip Mall - I don't care - you built it, you deal with it.
"Thousands of children will spend 12 years playing next to a freeway"?? - give me a break - the elementary school was built AFTER plans were made to build the Bypass. Hundreds/home values devastated? I don't think so- the route was designed to minimize impact. The impact has already been factored in when the properties were purchased.
Finally, thanks for the info on the meetings and contact info for the Supervisors - I will contact them voicing my thanks and support and to keep up the good work. I will also pass the info on to all my fellow Pro-Bypass friends urging them to do the same.

Oh hi, Greene Man!

So...have you read the US 29 Corridor Study or are you just falling for the soundbites that say "we need THIS bypass?"

Yep. Thought so.

See you at the Hollymead logjam soon, friend. :-)

Soooo sad that people won't read the facts behind this. This particularly bypass has been WILDLY opposed by the community, and has been deemed many, many times by state transportation engineers to be ineffective.

READ. THE. STUDY. It was just completed last year. Why don't people understand that wishing this particular bypass will make things better won't make it come true?

Hi Caroline! I don't pay attention to the soundbites" - I drove that route morning and night for 7 years and know whereof I speak. Regarding the Study:
"Prior to this study, right-of-way had been acquired to accommodate
the potential of building a bypass around Charlottesville. However,
because consensus cannot be reached about the alignment of this
envisioned bypass, the right-of-way must be sold if not used for
transportation purposes by January 1, 2012."
If you recall, the group that was contracted to do the study was pressured by local politicians to drop the recommendation for the Western Bypass - VDOT found out and rejected the study and made them redo it. They made no finding as to effectiveness because they figured it would be moot in the near future. Were it not for the recent elections and more recent turnabout by the supervisors, along with the "cooperation" of the Secretary of Transportation of our fine commonwealth, the right-of-way might have to revert. But lo! - What light through yonder darkness breaks! There is yet hope! After they build the Bypass, I'll meet you at Hollymeade and buy you lunch - just before I jump on the Bypass and continue south, zipping around the elongated parking lot that is 29. Cheers!

One more tidbit:

Survey Supports 29 Bypass, Meadowcreek Parkway
Published by
Waldo Jaquith
April 23, 2004 in Politics.

A transportation survey commissioned by area business group the Free Enterprise Forum shows that 55% of those polled believe that traffic is a major problem on Rt. 29, 70% support the 29 bypass, and 70% support building the Meadowcreek Parkway. The survey was conducted by Mason-Dixon, a well-known polling firm, and was based on telephone interviews with 625 registered voters in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, and Fluvanna. While these results seem to support the results of an early March survey commissioned by WINA, Councilor Kevin Lynch (who responded to questions about the Meadowcreek Parkway on cvillenews.com in December) has dismissed it as a “push poll,” citing the interests of the business group that funded it. David Dadurka has the story in today’s Progress.

I appreciate your invitation, Greene Man. And you will have a fun ride headed south.

But what about those of us headed north, which is where the bulk of traffic goes on 29?

This 'Boy in the Bubble' mentality needs to end. It's about time the 'paid' road is completed. I would visit and shop in C-ville more often if I could navigate through the city and avoid the traffic. If the bypass is limited access, I really don't see a problem with the road construction. That should curtail development. In addition, Route 29 north south traffic needs an alternative route as well. Don't complain about the trucking industry, it's how groceries and lumber and retail products are moved. Grow-up.

Again, it is this protect mine and do everyone else in nouveau Albemarlian attitude that has sunk our county for decades. Yes, and it appears that some older families embrace the attitudes of the new folks in town. There will be progressdespite what we all think. Roads will be built and I say build the bypass now. In life we lose and gain a bit in todays world and we lose and gain a little more later in our life...that is progress. That is life evolving. In the long run we all benefit, but to hear the voices of opposition to the bypass is beyond being repulsive. After the road is built your life will adjust. TIme passes and other things become your issue of the moment, hour or day. I lived for a while on JPA as a young person. Life was tough, no AC, and we lived with the windows open. Traffic, tractor trailers constantly plying their way through town...I adjusted to the noise, the smells and it did not kill me,atleast no yet. Later on we lived near the CSX railroad and again it was considered that noise would be horrendous, but we accepted it, adapted and lived on. Now our farm borders the CSX. I live with it and sleep well as trains pass at night, during dinner or whenever. It is called life and adjusting.

I still say, BUILD THE BYPASS NOW!

LMH- what about all the sprawl? If you have ever been anywhere, you would know the we here in Cville deal with similar conditions as those in NOVA or Va Beach and those folks don't keep asking for bypasses! They have finally realized that bypasses and new roads damage the environment and create the dreaded urban sprawl. Cville is such a great place just the way it is. Those Lynchburgers are conspiring to scar our beautiful area and even put a gash right through one of our surrounding mountains. Is that really what you want? Is it really that important to move at 60 mph around the outskirts of town? Better the cruise through our fair village at 35, if you ask me!

PavingMeansProgress"Don't complain about the trucking industry, it's how groceries and lumber and retail products are moved. Grow-up."

I guess the question is SHOULD this be how things are moved?

We've had 60 years of taxpayer subsidies for trucking. With government largesse increasingly diminished and fuel prices rising, SHOULD you and I and everybody else pay to pretend the times are a'changing.

Or would you rather pay to give the dying dinosaur a bit of new eyeshadow just to proclaim you've extended the old gal's usefulness? (Or whatever the right metaphor is.)

A bypass? Yes.

THIS bypass? No.

Dying dinosaur....a bit of new eyeshadow...nice, Skipwith!

Sometimes it's like a land of magical make believe around here. Maybe if we all WISH really hard, this $300 million Road to Target will solve all of our traffic woes. Cute.

I like your comment Caroline.

The political push is for a BYPASS right? That's what Lynchburg and Culpeper want? Its absurd to cal this proposal by this name at all.

Do we actually want to solve the problem or play politics?

Go West young man! Lets start with a wider reaching arc out East or West to connect directly to 64 and starting further North at Ruckersville. Make it fewer lanes than proposed, as numbers only predicted at most 10% of 29 traffic to be through-travelers anyway. The longer distance and smaller width footprint could workout.

Also, count the households that will be affected. Someone smart sit down with a map. Please?

We have two projects in the works that should help with resident congestion. Lets come up with our own much less expensive options like the bridge behind the Double tree.