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.


NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville -- VDOT Releases Property Acquired to Build Proposed Rt. 29 Western Bypass
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Charlottesville Right Now, Thursday, May 30, 2013

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:

From the Piedmont View

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

Western Bypass Shelved

Jun 17, 2014
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.

Update on the Western Bypass

Jun 28, 2013
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.

Transportation: Virginia Has A Choice To Make

Apr 08, 2013
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.

Charlottesville Western Bypass: Not just a local issue

Sep 17, 2012
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.

Speaking Up: Charlottesville Schoolchildren Rally against the Western Bypass

Jun 13, 2012
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.

Sketches with Jeff


Learn more about the (now-defunct) Western Bypass 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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