Western Bypass

Western Bypass

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. Find out more below:

The following articles appeared in PEC's Membership Newsletter -- The Piedmont View

Western Bypass Shelved

Big things are happening, or rather not happening, with the costly Western Bypass of U.S. Route 29 just north of Charlottesville. We’re enthusi­astic to report that the ineffective project has come to a halt, and we’re hoping this time it will be a permanent road block. With the Bypass off the table, we can finally get to work on fixing Route 29 for the majority of its travelers. Read More

Update on the Western Bypass

Despite questions and bumps in the road, VDOT continues to push the Western Bypass. It’s been a year since Skanska-Branch was awarded the contract to build the Western Bypass. According to VDOT’s plan, environmental reviews were to be completed by November 2012—initiating the design work by Skanska-Branch. Construction is supposed to start in March 2014, and the road would be completed in late 2016. However, it’s now June 2013 and VDOT is no closer to moving forward than they were two years ago. In short, this project was never ‘shovel ready,’ as claimed by proponents. Read More

Transportation: Virginia Has A Choice To Make

We can use transportation dollars to invest in our cities, towns and neighborhoods—making them great places to live. To do so, we need to offer first-class transit options, improve local road networks, and enhance east-west routes to solve Northern VA’s commuter gridlock. Or, we can waste our funds on new highways that ignore existing traffic problems, spread sprawl, and ultimately put more cars on the road. Read More
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Charlottesville Western Bypass: Not just a local issue

In June 2011, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors shocked constituents by holding an unpublicized, late-night vote to resurrect the Route 29 Western Bypass, northwest of Charlottesville. Since then, VDOT—under pressure from political interests in Lynchburg and the McDonnell administration—has put the Bypass on the construction fast-track. While communities north of Charlottesville may think this bypass is only a local issue, there are compelling reasons for Virginians everywhere to pay attention—and it’s not just the quarterbillion dollar price-tag. Big picture: this bypass is part of VDOT’s vision to transform Rt. 29 into a Central Virginia Interstate; acting as an alternative to I-81 and I-95. This is not only a bad idea, it’s not feasible without a massive right-of-way acquisition and billions of dollars in funding. Read More
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Speaking Up: Charlottesville Schoolchildren Rally against the Western Bypass

In debates concerning the health of our environment and communities, people often say we must think about our children -- we must think about their future. Yet, when it came to the proposed Western Bypass in Charlottesville, two kids decided they weren't going to wait around for the adults to take care of things. Read More

More on VDOT's proposed Rt. 29 Western Bypass

  • Sep 29, 2014

    Albemarle Supervisors Host Town Hall Meetings to Discuss Route 29 Solutions

    Albemarle County Supervisors are hosting town hall meetings to discuss the Route 29 Solutions Package. The intent of these meetings is to provide the public with an understanding of the projects, the impact they will have on the larger transportation network, and an opportunity to ask questions. Details on the concept recommendation package can be found on the Virginia Department of Transportation's website. Read More
  • Jun 13, 2013

    Transcript of WINA interview with former CTB member Jim Rich

    Charlottesville Right Now, Thursday, May 30, 2013 Jim Rich, a former member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, shares his thoughts on the Western Bypass. http://wina.com/podcasts/jim-rich/ Read More
  • Jun 05, 2013

    CATCO Green Book

    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. Read More
  • Nov 18, 2013

    A Real Chance

    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. Read More
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    May 14, 2013

    Fuzzy Math, Shoddy Design

    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. Read More
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    Mar 15, 2013

    Rt. 29 Western Bypass Not Shovel Ready

    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. Read More
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    Jan 14, 2013

    Army Corps & EPA Call Out Flaws in Western Bypass Review

    [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: Read More
  • Aug 30, 2012

    Flawed draft Environmental Assessment: Submit comments by Oct 9

    If you missed the public meeting on September 27th, please take a moment to send to VDOT your comments and concerns regarding the recently released draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Western Bypass. Read about the recent public meeting: 'Last Chance? Hundreds attend Western 29 Bypass forum'.The EA reviews prior environmental studies and is supposed to cover impacts relationed to land use, noise, air, endangered species, water resources and other cumulative effects. Unfortunately, after a review of the Draft Environmental Assessment, the document clearly falls well short on several key issues and is missing important information. Specifically: Read More
  • Jul 13, 2012

    Video Shows the Real Solutions to Traffic Problems on Rt. 29

    Nobody doubts the need to fix traffic problems on Route 29. But the proposed $250 million Western Bypass is not the answer—nor is it a done deal. View this video produced by The Southern Environmental Law Center to learn about more cost-effective alternatives that would provide greater benefits to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community. Read More
  • May 18, 2012

    Sketches with Jeff - Part 1 & 2

    PEC's Charlottesville & Albemarle Field Officer, Jeff Werner, has been struggling for many years with how to explain the issues surrounding the proposed Rt. 29 Western Bypass. He decided to give drawing a shot.Part I: The Problem with Rt. 29 North (and how to fix it) Part II: Why the Western Bypass Won't Work (and Is a Waste of Your Money)View more presentations from The Piedmont Environmental Council Read More
  • Oct 11, 2011

    FOIA'd Emails Show VDOT Expects Higher Cost for the Western Bypass

    The following excerpts come from VDOT emails about the proposed Western Bypass north of Charlottesville. On July 20th, 2011, VDOT presented the public and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) with a construction cost estimate of $118 million dollars (VDOT presentation, pg. 12). However, the following internal documents indicate that VDOT staff believe the cost of construction would be 2 to 3.5 times higher. Read More
  • Dec 13, 2011

    Albemarle Supervisors Ignore Input on Sustainability, Western Bypass

    The June 2011 Board of Supervisors meeting was dramatic, as hundreds of citizens came out to show their support for local sustainability initiatives that were under attack by vocal members of the Jefferson Area Tea Party. Citizens packed the auditorium, stood in the aisles, and overflowed to the balcony. Read More
  • Dec 13, 2011

    Albemarle Revives Controversial Western Bypass

    At their June meeting, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 to reverse the County's long-held opposition to the Western Bypass--a $250-350 million project that VDOT studies have shown would not reduce traffic congestion on Rt. 29 North Read More

Sketches with Jeff


Learn more about the project and its alternatives in this series of illustrations put together by our staff.

Real Solutions to Rt. 29: Video


Nobody doubts the need to fix traffic problems on Rt. 29. But the proposed $250 million Western Bypass is not the answer. Learn more about cost-effective alternatives in this video.

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