Albemarle BOS Candidates Talk Bypass at Environmental Forum

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A candidates' forum Monday night shed some light on where each person running for a spot on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors stands on the Route 29 Western Bypass.

The Sierra Club hosted an environmental forum as a chance for the candidates to share their views on the bypass and overall transportation vision.

Duane Snow, running for the board's Samuel Miller seat, and Cindi Burket, running for the Scottsville seat, stand in favor of the controversial road.

Rodney Thomas, running for the Rio seat, supports the bypass but concedes the plan is not perfect.

"I have not wavered from these improvements and still support all of the improvements that I have already mentioned but we still need to look at more," Thomas said. "This is not the perfect road."

Some who feel the bypass is a done deal say the focus needs to be on the future.

"In going forward I would work to make sure that the impact of construction with regard to noise, air quality, water runoff, blast impacts and other concerns by residents and businesses are addressed and not ignored," said Phillip Seay, who is running for the Jack Jouett seat.

Brad Sheffield, running for the Rio seat, said, "In a broader vision, no matter what kind of transportation changes we see, we always have to make sure we're adapting and preparing and meeting those expectations of the public."

Others wonder why the focus isn't on decongesting other roads.

Jane Dittmar, running for the Scottsville seat, said, "What's more important to the people in my district are the clogged roads on 20 and 250 and they want to know why we can't get ahead of the curve on planning for roads."

Candidates Liz Palmer, running for the Samuel Miller seat, and Diantha McKeel, running for the Jack Jouett seat, say easing traffic pains on Route 29 is a community goal, but the current plan for the bypass won't get the job done.

"I'm opposed to the current design and location of the proposed bypass. All the reports from many studies say it is not cost-effective, nor will it solve our traffic congestion," McKeel said.

Candidates also discussed climate change, population growth and stormwater runoff at the environmental forum.

Election Day is November 5.

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