VDOT Holds Hearing on Western Bypass Design Options - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VDOT Holds Hearing on Western Bypass Design Options

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The controversial Route 29 Western Bypass is back up for debate - this time at a VDOT-sponsored public comment session.

There were plenty of people who say the project is simply a waste of money. Heated debate over the bypass is nothing new. 

Thursday night, VDOT laid out three design options for the southern part of the project: the original interchange proposal, a loop ramp and a flyover ramp.

The new six-mile, four-lane roadway would connect the area just north of the south fork of the Rivanna River to the Route 29-250 bypass in Albemarle. 

VDOT sought input on those ideas Thursday.

"There are nearby neighbors, there are other stakeholders that have an interest in this so we want them to look at the plans and tell us what they think," said Lou Hatter, VDOT spokesperson.

But many are concerned with the financial aspect of the entire project.

"Politics has got this completely turned around and now we taxpayers are about to be raped $300 million highway for $8 million in benefit," said Randy Salzman, who attended the hearing.

Environmental concerns were also voiced, citing the projects proximity to neighborhoods and schools. But while many are opposed, not everyone is against it.

"I think the Virginia Department of Transportation's main job is transportation and safely getting the public to where it needs to go and I believe the bypass accomplishes that task," said Neil Williamson, who attended the hearing.

The Southern Environmental Law Center says VDOT is not being transparent with costs.

"It's like taxpayers are stuck inside the taxicab while the meter just keeps rising," said Morgan Butler, with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

But VDOT says it is too early to give cost estimates for the project. There is not a clear timeline for the project at this point. VDOT must finish its environmental evaluation process before any construction can begin.

It will be taking written comments on the concepts until June 3.

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