Dumler Walks Western Bypass Ahead of Albemarle Supervisors Vote
Albemarle County Supervisor Christopher Dumler took some big steps Tuesday ahead of a scheduled vote. He walked the entire 6.2-mile stretch of the proposed Route 29 Western Bypass.
This comes before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, when county leaders are expected to take their first official position on the controversial project.
Dumler's trek took him from St. Anne's Belfield's Faulconer Dr. campus near Rt. 250, all the way to the intersection of Rt. 29 and Ashwood Blvd. in Albemarle County. He finished the hike in a little less than four hours. Dumler says his goal was to get a better look at the home of the future bypass before votes are cast Wednesday.
"It's easy to look at reports, it's easy to look at maps, but there's no substitution for actually walking it," Dumler said as he prepared for his hike. "I think it's a small price to pay to actually see firsthand what we're talking about when it comes to this sort of thing."
Dumler is mostly concerned with the areas surrounding the project that will see the most impact, including schools and homes.
"If we can get this road to look nice, have landscaping, sound barriers, respect private property of adjacent landowners, I think it'd be better for everyone," he said. "It'd be better for people riding on the roads, it'd be better for neighbors, it'd be better for everyone in the county."
Wednesday will mark the first time Albemarle supervisors have cast a collective opinion on the controversial project.
"Back in June of last year, the board actually didn't technically take a position," Dumler said. "All it did was remove language from a plan that allowed federal money to be used for a road."
But not everyone is convinced the vote is necessary, including Rio District Supervisor Rodney Thomas. "It's a waste of time," he said. "It's already settled, I mean, it's just an opinion."
Thomas expects the board to split its votes evenly, three in support and three in opposition to the bypass. "To me it's like, do you want to broadcast that three are for it and three against it? What's the point?" he said.
Thomas says he has also hiked the bypass route - twice. He did it for the first time this past August, and a second time in the beginning of December. During those hikes, Thomas says he had a series of revelations that echo Dumler's concerns, specifically about the road's proximity to Greer Elementary.
"I have asked VDOT to move it (the bypass) back if possible," Thomas said. "I gathered that it was probably closer to a couple of things than we really would like it to be."
But despite some concerns, Thomas is still in full support of the bypass project and VDOT's plans.
"I trust VDOT. I trust VDOT will do this, it's not the first road they've ever built," he said. "They're not trying to shaft Albemarle County. They're going to build the best road they can possibly do, and give Albemarle County the best road we can get with the money."
But before shovels hit the dirt, Dumler is happy to get his boots dirty to make sure he knows all he can about what comes next.
"Charlottesville-Albemarle is a beautiful place, and I'm hopeful that we get a road that is worthy of such a beautiful environment," he said. "As for my actual formal position on the bypass, I think it's going to depend on this walk."
Wednesday morning's vote will not affect plans to build the Rt. 29 Western Bypass. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will award a $136 million contract to design and build the project June 20.
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Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.Full Story
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story