$230 million: State board accelerates Western Bypass with cash

Christmas has come early for Lynchburg and Danville. Putting the taxpayer money where the Secretary of Transportation's mouth is, the all-powerful Commonwealth Transportation Board has voted to approve $197 million for construction of the controversial Western Bypass for U.S. 29 and an additional $33 million to provide an additional lane to the existing stretch of U.S. 29 from the South Fork of the Rivanna River north to the Hollymead Town Center. The July 20 action was hailed by Governor Bob McDonnell in a press release as providing “major benefits for Charlottesville and Albemarle County by reducing congestion." Although hailed at the highest echelons of state government for zipping past 14 traffic lights to speed the flow of traffic, the long-planned roadway has generated gobs of local controversy because it would consume dozens of homes and fail to actually bypass much of the commerce that already cloaks the northern suburbs.


Hydraulic is already starting to back up onto the Bypass following the changes on the bit between the Bypass and 29 and things there will only get worse as the new development on the next corner comes on line. The Meadowcreek Parkway will also overload the Bypass at the intersection between the two. Once the additional traffic from a Western Bypass, should it actually be built, is added the trip from Pantops to the other end of the 250 Bypass will be a complete nightmare. Anyone who thinks this benefits us locally is seriously deluded.

I predict that between this issue and the water issue, Boyd will have a tough time getting reelected.

Bypass Boyd.

Well 197m won't build it, and all the cost estimates are outdated; so what happens when the money runs out? Maybe they will use the supposed funding from the now unsure meadowcreek parkway cloverleaf.

P.S. How 'bout that Rio to Melbourne parkway the county just built. WTF?!

...“major benefits for Charlottesville and Albemarle County by reducing congestion."

That is a very tall order for the Road to Nowhere.

It's about time!

Great, so out of town big business trumps the locals. Who can I vote out of office for this?

How did the Charlottesville government actually move the bypass forward, were there that many locals in favor of the plan or did the BoS decide to be paternalistic and make a decision it felt the locals here didn't have the intelligence or maturity to make themselves?

Finally! Pave it baby!

The ability for the local populace to view the potential downside of any infrastructure project as prohibitive is quite astounding. Someone is actually asserting, based on nothing at all, that the Western bypass will increase traffic running from Pantops to the Western end of town.

Oh, really?

It is nothing but paralyzing myopia that keeps these projects mired in endless loops of debate and delay. Eventually this over-analyzing navel-gazing will cost us.

Hydraulic is really a lame name for a road. Can we get that road changed to something that fits our community?

Hill-Jack: Hydraulic Road was named for the Hydraulic Mills which was active during the 1800s, which the road took people to. It fit our community long before you were here. Learn some history of the area, place names and roads might make more sense to you then.

newin town, it wasn't Charlottesville that voted for this, but Albemarle that voted to stop blocking it. I'd be interested to hear why you're opposed.

Frankly, I think most of the opposition is simply a knee-jerk reflex. I haven't heard any good arguments against this road, and it's clear that it will be a sound addition to our local transportation infrastructure.

The fact that it will help people out of our area does not in any way mean that it will not help people in our area. The disease that seems to have afflicted people in Charlottesville, where the assumption is what's good for the county is bad for the city, seems to be contagious.

People need to grow up.

I guess growing up means accepting outdated, overpriced things. If you haven't heard "any good arguments" against this road, it really only means you haven't been listening. Look at the map, look your kids in the eye, and tell them that it is worth it to spend $300 million of THEIR money to build a road that dumps out below the Target.

It would have been great 20 years ago, Meanwhile.

I am in favor of a bypass, just not this one. It's foolish.

Caroline's comment is exactly what I'm talking about. It sounds completely reflexive in that there is no evidence that any actual thinking went into the formulation of Caroline's argument.

Allow me to very easily tear her argument to shreds:

I've been paying attention quite a bit to this debate, thank you. To say that my opinion proves I haven't only shows your lack of a good argument.

Also, the price is now $230 million, and 'below the Target' is a fine point to start or end the road.

The fact that it would have been "great" 20 years ago does not at all mean that it's not a worthwhile plan now.

See there, I just completely refuted your argument. Do you have anything actually valid to say in opposition to the road or will you simply repeat more 7th grade-level talking points?

Here's an argument for you, "Meanwile," even if you don't think it's a good argument. If you owned a house, no wait, a home that you planned a long time for... a home that your children grew up in... a home that you have memories in and perhaps built with the intention of growing old in.... and some bureaucrat and a few smart*sses like yourself decided that it was okay to force you out of it, well, you would probably be pretty upset.

Some of us feel loyalty to this community. And that means feeling loyalty to other members of this community. And I support a person's right to not have their house knocked down against their will because somebody doesn't like sitting in traffic. I know you don't think it's a big deal. And I'm sure that you don't value the natural beauty of all that is west of 29, which by the way, attracted me and a lot of other people to this town in the first place. But it's important to a lot of us. And if you can't get that some people value things that maybe you don't value, then you probably need to grow up a little bit. And maybe you need to get over yourself.

I don't care how long you've lived here. I don't care if your last name is Charlottesville. If you don't believe that a few dozen of our homes, and the nature that surrounds the city - which is a critical part of it's identity - is valuable and worth protecting, then your not loyal to this town. And I wouldn't be surprised if you one day favored strip-mining the blue ridge mountains and shutting down all of the local businesses because it made things more convenient for you and made you a few extra bucks. You should look up a book by Dr. Seuss. It's called the Lorax. And you are the Once-ler. And people like you will one day be the end of this town. And then we might as well all move to Richmond. And don't even try to reply with the old "I'm logical" and "I will pick your argument apart" cr*p. That's what insecure people who think-they-are-smarter-than-they-really-are say.

The old question about the chicken and the egg has never been adequately answered, but in Charlottesville the North Grounds Connector came before the Western Bypass. UVA Basketball Escape Route is what this road will be.

got that right. Anybody who is making money at the JPJ is happy to have a road like this. However, does anyone remember that the VDOT says no "at grade" interchange from Sandridge/JPJ to the bypass; and if the new bypass comes in at roughly the same place, what type of interchange is going to be built there. Might look like something in Charlotte or Atlanta. Quite the concrete pretzel, with nice views of St. Anne's playing fields.

Should be built to Ruckersville.

Two things:
1. Most of the property needed for the road has already been purchased by the state. One of the reasons this is getting fastracked is VDOT has to start construction or sell it back to the previous owners. Everyone who will be affected has either already been paid or has been on notice for 20 years that this could happen. No sob stories about the old homestead being demolished apply.
2. One of the Commonwealth Transportation Board mentioned this yesterday, but it bears repeating...29 is a UNITED STATES HIGHWAY, not Charlottesville's main street. It is specifically designed and designated to benefit the entire region, not just our locality, and is being paid for by taxpayers throughout the state, not just Cville/Albemarle. With the benefits come some of the burden.
Get it built already.

Amigo: see the visualizations of the current plan at the Charlottesville Tomorrow site. The intersection you describe is shown as grade-separated.


Hard to respond to such an overwrought and emotional outburst, "i am", but I'll try. Excuse me while I employ the same sorts of strawman arguments you do, and forgive me for not replying to your Dr. Suess analogy by asking if you meant to type "Sam I am" instead of just "I am".

Most (if not all) of the homes being knocked down are owned by VDOT. Oops, didn't see that one coming, did ya?

This sort of thing happens all the time, actually. The city, county, state, federal gov't claim eminent domain and knock down some buildings. And it will happen after this road is built. Your just the kind of person that's never thought about such things.

You do realize that at one time the 250 bypass and 29 weren't there, right? How do you think they got there? Was Thomas Jefferson's pen pushed by God Himself as he drew up the plans for those roads? No, I don't think so. You do realize that at one time there were trees and grass there, right? You do realize that you moving here required that those trees and grass get killed, right?

You're like one of those people that thinks it's immoral that other cultures may eat dogs and cats but doesn't bat an eye when ordering organic, local, grass-fed lamb chops. Ooops, did I just insert some irrelevant value-laden analogy into my comment? Gee, sorry about that. Your conniption about strip-mining inspired me, I think.

While you sit in your air conditioned home, typing away on your laptop, connected via your wifi, you probably decry coal and other fossil fuels. Ok, that's your right. But you must know that you're part of the problem.

I love Western Albemarle and have lived in Western Albemarle for 12 years, but the backside of Walmart is hardly worth your hyperventilation. As far as my loyalty to this "town", most of this road is outside city limits.

Looking at a few trees being knocked down and crying me a river is not seeing the whole forest. To wit, it is worse for the environment to have cars idling instead of moving at a steady pace. This money can not and will not be available nor applied for all the other good alternatives that would reduce traffic. It is also better for the environment to have development contained within a development area, which this seeks to do.

Not building roads for increased capacity leads to gridlock.

If you are truly opposed to this kind of development, I would suggest you lobby the University of Virginia to stop growing. They are the primary economic engine of this area and it is UVA's growth that leads to an increased need for water, housing, food supply and roads. The "loyal" thing to advocate would be for the shrinking of this economic behemoth. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, I am sure you don't give a hoot what I think but I have no respect whatsoever for people who attack and belittle other people simply because they have a different opinion than yours. Any arguments you present are worthless when presented in that manner - in my opinion.

I am very sorry that people will lose their homes and property but it sure seems this bypass is a done deal now and 'amigo' probably pointed out the real reason why. I had not known about that 'UVA connector' until today. After reading about that it all became much clearer as to why this came to the forefront so quickly and after so many years.

I don't know how recent the information is in the below link but I found it interesting and educational:


@ nicknameoscar...belittling and condescension is how things are done around here. Everyone, including myself, believes that if you take time to type and state your opinion, that it's automatically holds greater validity that anyone elses. Sad but true. Peace.

@Meanwhile: "Not building roads for increased capacity leads to gridlock."

Which in turn leads to more efficient use of space and more efficient transportation technology. In other words, successful development.

Also, isn't it a tautology that more roads means more cars?

This is a pork-barrel project in an era of financial hardship. There's nothing conservative about that.


Excellent points. Yes, more roads tend to lead to more cars. However, anyone that's been here a while would point out that there are more cars here now than there used to be and the road capacity has not increased commensurately. Hence, we have a much worse traffic situation than we did in years past.

This may well be a pork barrel project (and I'm not a conservative) but this money will not be available for any other purpose. Continued economic growth in this area will lead to greater government revenue, revenue which can be used to implement more efficient transportation technology, if the gov't chooses. There's no good reason why we can't do both.

But this isn't a zero-sum game. That money will be gone if it's not used for this purpose. Saying that Charlottesville could use the money more efficiently by doing x, y or z (as the Mayor did on the radio this morning) is a completely disingenuous argument and he knows better.

It's state money and 29 is a US Highway. Charlottesville residents' concerns, when the City of Charlottesville is only a small piece of this puzzle, should be viewed in this context.

nicknameoscar, I apologize. I had thought I was responding in kind to others, but I did more than forcefully advocate for my position and you are correct to malign my belittling and condescension.

@meanwhile: "However, anyone that's been here a while would point out that there are more cars here now than there used to be and the road capacity has not increased commensurately. Hence, we have a much worse traffic situation than we did in years past."

Sure, I've seen change in traffic in my Charlottesville experience, which is now in its fifth decade. There are more cars and more roads and more people and more businesses, residences, and workplaces on Rt 29. I don't think that it is necessarily slower to travel on 29 going north of existing 29 bypass, nor going south on 29 towards the existing bypass. I think it's a decent road, actually, with room for improvements for safety.

Listening to the CTB meeting podcast on Charlottesville Tomorrow, I'm appalled a how uniformed the voting parties were.

Likewise, after listening to podcasts from the County BOS, I think that many of the supervisors should be utterly ashamed of themselves. I don't know Ken Boyd from Adam, but his public political manner is very ugly. I had respect for Duane Snow (and his family; I've spent time at his house), but he has put a big blemish on the family name and reputation, and I don't plan to support him or his families' businesses. Dorrier would be worthy of pity for his colleagues' grotesque manipulation, but he's fallen into the trap of pride.

The CT story on the CTB mentions the participation of Carter Myers, who many of us will remember as a guy who couldn't get elected here in our community, and then used an appointed role on the CTB to meet out revenge by killing the grade-separated interchanges. His is another business (including the daughter's Volvo shop) that I boycott.

I'd like to learn about how else I might use my wallet to withdraw support from those who would squander scarce resources on this destructive and inefficient road. Somebody educate me.

I've been googling around IN VAIN for a list of person or businesses that support the Free Enterprise Forum. Can somebody help me out?

Similarly, has the Chamber of Commerce (a lobby group) --through its members -- advocated a position on this road? If so, a link to who they are would be appreciated. (I'm not sure if the city and county Chamber(s) are separate, or coordinate, or operate independently.)

Take it to the streets!

Hi SkipWith,

~ The Free Enterprise Forum is essentially Neil Williamson. That is not a criticism of any sorts, but to my knowledge Mr. Williamson has a few "field officers" who are essentially freelance bloggers. Not sure if they are paid or not.

~ The Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Chamber of Commerce represents both the city and the county a the name implies. The Chamber has been in favor of the widening of Route 29 and the building of Berkmar extended, among other projects in the 29 Master Plan. My understanding is they support they bypass, primarily through their North Charlottesville Business Council. Not sure how much info on their position you can find here, but their web is www.cvillechamber.com.

Anyone who isn't already horrified by this road ought to watch the 3-D video of the route that is on the Charlottesville Tomorrow website. Its WAAAYYY more than knocking down 40 homes. There are probably 4 times that many that are permanently degraded by NOT BEING KNOCKED DOWN because they were merely within eye and ear sight of the proposed road, but not directly under it. Besides the entire area general area being degraded, and urbanized by all the overpasses, bridges, wanton cutting of trees, and endless grading work, it is still unclear what will have been achieved. This looks more and more like a pork barrel project, and it feels like the bureaucracy is operating under some kind of "spoils system", whereby the briefly incumbent group is about to do irreparable damage to our community. Let them widen 29 into obliviion, as many times as they want, and hey maybe they ought to bulldoze 40 businesses starting in front of Best Buy and working northwards to achieve VDOT nirvana, but please lets keep them out of our woods and neighborhoods. You can't run a huge road through four neighborhoods and say you're only impacting 40 houses. Good grief.

Rodney Thomas makes it crystal clear on the Coy Barefoot show that he and Duane Snow intend to vote for the ByPass.


And one has to smile at the irony, that after all the complaining about the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park's lawsuit, the opponents to the ByPass are now planning to sue.

"James Rich, the only CTB member to oppose the bypass, said opponents will file a lawsuit to block it. Another federal environmental review of the route will be necessary, Department of Transportation officials said."


I am generally not opposed to change in this town, but really people, it takes a maximum of 20 minutes to get from Hydraulic to Wal Mart on a bad day. I just don't get why we would spend this much money while the state is cutting money for education and laying off public employees who help the consumer engine of our economy going. If these were different times, then maybe. It just doesn't make sense. If you are south of town and don't like traffic in Charlottesville, here's an idea: leave your town so you don't get to Charlottesville between 4:30 and 5:30. I do it all the time when I want to go to DC and don't want to sit in traffic. This is like Richmond and Raleigh demanding that the DC area build an outer beltway because they want to save time to get to NYC.

If this was a time of economic prosperity and dollars were flowing, I would say maybe try out your road to save people a few minutes. Again, financially it just doesn't seem prudent right now. All of this is without mentioning that given the growth that is taking place north of town, the 29/Hydraulic/250 bottleneck will just become the Forest Lakes bottleneck. The same debate and request for more money will be taking place in about 10 years when people realize that the bypass isn't some silver bullet for business south of town and a few more lights pop up between Forest Lakes and Ruckersville.

@ C...not poking, just saying...it's 3.2 miles from Hydraulic and 29 to Walmart, it shouldn't take 5 -7 minutes if you hit every light. Not saying the bypass is the answer, just pointing out the scope of the problem. Peace.

Oh I hear you Paul. I think the 5-7 minutes thing goes to my point. A quarter billion in these economic times over 5-7 minutes? I think my 20 minute figure gives a lot of leeway to the proponents of th bypass. I think it's extremely rare that it would take that much time.

In all likelihood this thing is going through now. At least we will have a shiny new road we can play with. Whether it solves anything is something we will have to wait to determine. Hopefully after all the money spent and any homes taken down in the process it will accomplish something.

The town I remember so fondly as a young man is now screwed.

The biggest problem is that Albermarle allowed tons of growth on Rt 29 north of Wal-Mart that should never have been approved without the road infrastructure being planned for at the same time. Growth should have been directed along Rt 250 along the interstate where a highway already exists. Too late for that now so they need a bypass.

Btw, what ever happened to the Meadowcreek Pkwy coming up thru Albermarle to tie into Rt 29?

This road should have been built 20 years ago and we should be discussing the 2nd phase to address the growth of the past 20 years. Yes, mostly to accomodate of "those" who moved here because they love Charlottesville. Suppose us "natives" had kept you out years ago.....Bring it on!

I can't wait, I hate the current traffic situation

And I hate sitting in it, sucking Lynchburg bound diesel fumes

I would be very interested to see more details on the expected economic benefit to Lynchburg and other local south of Charlottesville. Twenty years ago it was possible to drive into the center of Washington, DC in two hours from Charlottesville. Now it takes closer to three and it has everything to do with traffic in the greater DC metro area. What exactly is going to bypass Charlottesville to support its Southern neighbors? Is it about attracting industrial production which will be shipping products up 29? To where? Is it to attract folks who are commuting to Washington, DC or have recently moved from that area? This has worked for Charlottesville in terms of attracting new businesses and "talent" but would upgrading the train service work for this?

If we are going to spend $200 million on a road to stimulate a specific economy then there better be sufficient evidence that it will be successful. I would imagine that there are many competing uses for the money in Lynchburg and Danville. It is confusing that money for transportation must be thought of differently then money (all from our government) for other projects. Why are politicians who adamantly oppose spending behind this project? Is anyone around here following the debate taking place at the national level around government debt?

Full disclosure, I am the son of Lindsay Dorrier. I just wanted to address a couple points that have been brought up.

Cost: 200 million sounds prohibitive, especially in this economic environment and in an area not used to seeing infrastructure projects of this magnitude, but roads actually do cost serious money to build. For example, just the interchange of 66 and Rt. 29 in Gainesville is going to cost 267 million. More than the entirety of this project, and that is just an interchange. If the Board of Supervisors were to pass on this opportunity to get something done, the likelihood of seeing that kind of money again is extremely low. It would be a diservice to this community to let 200 million go to another locality.

Affected Homeowners: It's extremely sad to see people adversely affected by this project, but they need to realize that this is for the greater good of the community. The not-in-my-front-yard mentality needs to be shelved. No matter where the road goes, it will infringe on someone's property. There were people who lived in the way of the 250 Bypass when it was being planned and there was some serious opposition to it's construction. in 2011, what would we do without that road? I think that the same point of view will come to pass with this project.

As an earlier poster stated, this road should have been built a long time ago and we should be discussing phase 2 right now. There is simply not enough money to build the ideal route and this money won't be redirected. It will be gone. The time for action is now. The Western Bypass is not a perfect solution, but it's the best plan we have. Further studies, speculation on the downsides of proposed infrastructure, and generalized inaction and hand-wringing is not a plan to reduce Rt. 29 congestion.

and now it comes out that VDOT plan would close Ashwood intersection with 29??? Apparently so, from memos dug up and being circulated. Total disaster.

WAKE UP Albemarlians and C-villians. Simpy look at this with some common sense. Our supervisors after 20 years, understande we all win as a result of the new US-29 Bypass being approved and constructed. Yes, even those that oppose the bypass will use it or will travel north-south benefiting from the rerouting of traffic over to the bypass.

I and other like me applaud the BOS's postive thinking and yes, progressive thinking. The politics of this has damaged our overall image state wide and has resulted in our communities being harmed in many ways we do not realize. It is time we come together and win overall. It is so strange that a great number of giants in our community can bring together such a mass to protest this great benefit to us all. Maybe their thinking is not so progressive. Some say this is a "NOT In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) protest. I say build it in my backyard. Build it now before the cost and the loses to our great community are harmed even worse than they have in the past.

@ Lindsay 3: "The not-in-my-front-yard mentality needs to be shelved."

Tell that to Carter Meyers, buddies on the North Charlottesville Business Council (Wendell Wood an his brother Lloyd), and so on. You know: they guys that want to profit from you being stuck in your car at a stoplight so that you can see "0% down" scrawled in wax pencil on the windshield on a new Hummer, or who want to sell new land to be deveoped into new box stores selling you Made In China stuff made more easily accessible by curb cuts and stop lights.

Is there any dispute that building grade separated interchanges on 29 wouldn't be a cheaper solution than this planned "bypass"? That grade separated interchanges wouldn't be a more effective solution to traffic engineering? Or that it isn't more popular with voters?

Stop the insanity.

Big Daddy G,

Charlottesville isn't treating 29 as its main street, Albemarle County developers are. The only thing wrong with 29N is the amount of MCMansion Big Box Store development the County has dumped onto the road to benefit a few developers, and the people who love to work in C-Ville, but don't want to live there because they might have to pay a few taxes for the infrastructure they demand.

The money should be spent on building access roads, and clover leafs, and getting rid of the stop lights. And then the County should be told no more development off of 29N. They have to build access roads.

I'm curious: is there a means to force a recall vote on a member of the board of supervisors?


Yes, you can do a recall.

@ Skipwith

Here's Cvillepedia on the Free Enterprise Forum and its Board of Directors:


The FEF claims to provide citizens with a "balanced perspective on local issues," but of course that's not true.

The Board includes Sam Craig (builder), Sue Goldman (C'ville Area Assoc. of Realtors), Robert Hodous (area Chamber of Commerce, and avid Republican), Tim Hulbert (head of the local Chamber), Percy Montague (Realty), Bill May (realtor), Charles Rotgin, (Realty and Chamber), Frank Stoner (realty and development), and Frank Cava (Realty).

Most of the funding for Neil Williamson's activities comes from builders, developers, and realtors.

There was a time when this information could be found from the Free Enterprise Forum's website, but somebody "cleaned" it up.

@democracy: There was a time when this information could be found from the Free Enterprise Forum's website, but somebody "cleaned" it up.

That's telling.

Thanks for naming the names of the supporters.

The MPO is going to defer on their vote this week. There are way too many unanswered questions and grey areas. I cant believe anyone buys the cost estimate either.

I came across this quote in Cvillepedia from Mr. Thomas, said in announcing his 2009 candidacy for Supervisor (he would win the election by just 300 votes):

""The County needs to find a way to be more conservative with the tax dollars they are taking in," said Thomas. "I don't like the way things are being handled [in local government]....The Board needs to be more accountable [to the people]."

What a joke.

Traffic? Seriously, Charlottesville doesn't have bad traffic...wouldn't even be ranked in the Top 500 in the country for bad traffic so folks need to realize it's all about the Benjamins and commercial dollars.