The Western Bypass just north of Charlottesville was a $200-500 million road project that even VDOT studies showed wouldn't relieve congestion on 29 North. All the same, proponents pushed hard to get the road built. In June 2011, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted to reverse the County's long-held opposition to the project.
Despite a determined push to get this road built, the proposal hit some major speed bumps. In the fall of 2012, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers questioned the effectiveness of the Western Bypass and the draft Environmental Assessment for the project - outlining the insufficiencies of that assessment, and the fact that VDOT has not adequately compared the Bypass to alternatives - such as the community's "Places29" plan. And then a major blow to the project was delivered in February 2014, when the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced serious reservations about the viability of the project
Our communities deserve well-planned, community-based transportation solutions -- not wasteful mega-projects. The good news is, now that the Western Bypass has been shelved, we can move forward with real solutions for Rt. 29.
Jim Rich, a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, shares his thoughts on the Western Bypass.
The Charlottesville-Albemarle Transportation Coalition (CATCO) is a citizen group formed in 1988 to respond to proposed improvements to the local Rt 29 corridor. Their objective was the development of real solutions to emerging congestion problems. Their work included opposition to the Western Bypass, specifically after it was elevated as a priority ahead of previously agreed upon, more effective solutions. The CATCO Green Book summarizes these efforts through 2000. It provides an invaluable digest and summary of the genesis of the Western Bypass and why this community has long opposed it.
Email alert text: The 2013 Election Day results show without question that the Western Bypass was a key concern for county voters. Now, with a new Board of Supervisors and a new administration in Richmond, we have a real chance to stop the construction of the Bypass and reallocate funding to more effective transportation projects.
When it comes to the Western Bypass, I feel like I've been jumping up and down for awhile, trying to get the decision makers to pay attention. But quite recently, a number of things have happened that give me hope, and it's time to get our U.S. Senators involved. Much of the national conversation right now is focused on the debate over federal spending. And while there are strong opinions on both sides, we should all agree on one thing: any money that is spent, should be spent wisely. This text is from a March 15th, 2013 email alert.
The saga continues. In order to keep the Rt. 29 Western Bypass proposal within their budget, VDOT accepted a "modified design" to the southern terminus last year that is significantly different than the one presented in VDOT's Environmental Assessment. And it is now becoming clear that there are some major flaws in this cheap design -- flaws related to traffic flow and safety, and that actually increase the travel time on the Bypass. This text is from an email alert we sent out on May 14th.
[12/17/12] This has not been a good few weeks for those pushing the Rt. 29 Western Bypass. In late November, a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency was made public that calls into question the draft Environmental Assessment prepared by VDOT. And just last week, a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers came to light, which says: