A year ago, it seemed impossible to believe that VDOT would put the brakes on the Western Bypass, or start moving forward with more effective, environmentally sound transportation solutions for Rt. 29.
We’ve gotten to this point because the people of this community got involved, spoke up, and got local and state elected officials to listen. And it’s this continued effort that will see long overdue improvements come to Rt. 29.
Unfortunately, there is a vocal and well-funded group of businesses and developers that does not see it that way. They are trying everything they can to stop one of the key projects: a redesigned intersection at Rio Road. Study after study has shown improving this intersection is critical to relieving congestion on Rt. 29, and plans for a grade-separated interchange have been in local plans for years, including in the community’s Long Range Transportation Plan.
Wouldn’t be January without a little meddling from Richmond…
To complicate matters further, Delegate Rob Bell has introduced a budget amendment in the General Assembly to freeze the funding of these projects. Please also send a letter to your Delegate and Senator, asking them to stand up to tampering and delay tactics from Richmond.
A Helpful Visualization
With false and misleading information out there, it’s good to remind ourselves what each of these projects ultimately adds up to: a Rt. 29 that safely and efficiently gets people where they need to go. Our friends at the Southern Environmental Law Center recently put together a great slideshow that brings that message back home.
Timeline Going Forward
During the next several weeks, the State is expected to finalize the contract on 3 important pieces of the puzzle:
- the improvements at the Rio Road/ Rt. 29 intersection
- Berkmar Drive Extension
- the widening of Rt. 29 north of the Rivanna River
Other planned projects in the Rt. 29 Solutions Package include the Traffic Light Synchronization, Hillsdale Drive Extension, Best Buy Ramp project, and the study of improvements to the Hydraulic Rd./Rt. 29 intersection.
As this process continues and we move forward toward construction, it is important that we continue to support those local businesses that will be impacted by the work. We are all in this together and until the dust settles, let’s all pitch in to keep Route 29 north a very busy, active, and productive part of Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville.
Albemarle and Charlottesville Land Use Officer
The Piedmont Environmental Council