September 23, 2011 PEC Press Release


PEC response to VDOT on cost estimates for the Western Bypass

VDOT & Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton are changing their story and they're not substantiating anything that they say.

Now that they've been caught with wildly conflicting cost estimates for the proposed Western Bypass around Charlottesville, they're saying that the construction cost they released to the public was based on a new, "more modest plan" developed by VDOT engineers. Reportedly, that plan would take out the ramps and rely on basic lighted intersections. The entire argument for the bypass is allow traffic to avoid lighted intersections--now VDOT is suggesting that vehicles will have to wait at lights just to get on and off of it!

What we know is that back in June, when talking about the bypass, "Connaughton said his assurance [to provide funds] was based on the existing alignment and design, and not some other alternative." Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 9, 2011.

So, which is it?

And VDOT's contradictory response to the revealed cost estimates as high as $500+ million does not end there. While arguing that the reduced cost is based on a "more modest plan"--which has yet to be revealed--VDOT and the Secretary also insist that the cost savings will be realized by hiring a contractor who will design the bypass as they go. Ironically, in a FOIA'd document summarizing this design-build scenario, VDOT's conclusion is that this would likely be [the] most expensive option."

So what exactly are Virginia taxpayers paying for?

All of these statements seem intended to confuse the public, the press, and the local decision-makers whose votes were needed to proceed with the project. The McDonnell administration should look closely at VDOT's behavior and put the brakes on this process before it gets further out of hand.

See the FOIA'd VDOT emails.

See PEC's press release on exposed cost estimates for the bypass.