For immediate release: May 11, 2012
Piedmont Environmental Council
Albemarle and Charlottesville Land Use Officer
Today, we came a step closer to learn the true costs for building the Route 29 Bypass to Nowhere. The Virginia Department of Transportation opened the bids from contractors to build the Charlottesville Western Bypass--which ranged between $18 million and $96 million higher than VDOT’s estimated construction costs as best as we can determine based upon the very limited information we have received from the agency at this time.
Even at the lowest end of the range, and even if there are not cost overruns, that brings the cost of the bypass to approximately $262 million. And we don’t even know what we’re getting bids for since the project is based on a potential design that still isn't public. Further, the proposed bypass hasn't had a proper environmental review in over a decade.
Today's bids demonstrate that saving two minutes of travel time to bypass four miles of Route 29 will now cost us $262+ million, when you factor the costs of construction, acquiring right of ways and engineering. That's $262 million for two minutes. There are better ways to spend Virginians’ tax dollars.
Today's bids do not include several important elements to address environmental and quality of life issues in Charlottesville and Albemarle:
- Landscaping to create buffers along the route
- Noise mitigation for neighborhoods and schools along the route
- Other adjustments to address concerns not yet identified as the environmental assessment is not complete.
In the coming months, the public deserves to have its voice heard. The public still has not seen what the actual design of this road will look like. The public still has not seen an environmental assessment of the damage that will be done by building this Bypass to Nowhere. VDOT should hold a proper public hearing that gives residents an opportunity to review the design and the environmental assessment based on that design, and have their concerns addressed before this projects moves forward.