Groups Appeal to VA Lawmakers to Side with them on Bypass - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Groups Appeal to VA Lawmakers to Side with them on Bypass

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Four business groups across the commonwealth sent a memo to the governor's office this week pushing for the Route 29 Western Bypass project to move forward. But people against the controversial road stand by their argument that certain alternatives are a better option.

The longstanding debate over whether or not to build the 6.2-mile highway is being put back in the spotlight and people on both sides want support from Virginia's new leaders.

The chambers of commerce from Charlottesville, Danville, Lynchburg, and Roanoke wrote a seven-page memorandum detailing restating their support to build the bypass. They cite safety and access concerns they say would be solved by moving the project forward.

“Forty-nine percent of all the traffic accidents on that 219-mile stretch of national highway occur in Albemarle or Charlottesville. For that fact and that fact alone, you would build a road to try and make travel safer for the citizens and the enterprises of the commonwealth,” said Tim Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

But attorneys with the Southern Environmental Law Center emphasize that the problems can be addressed with alternatives, such as building overpasses at sites of congestion.

“What it doesn't mention is the huge number of accidents that are occurring at the intersections of 29 and Rio and Hydraulic,” said SELC senior attorney Morgan Butler. “Of the intersections on 29 those are the two that by far account for the highest amount of accidents.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center says the memo from the chambers of commerce dismisses environmental and community resource concerns. Opponents to the Western Bypass also sent a letter to the governor's office in December requesting termination of the project.

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce stresses that data in the environmental assessment shows impact today is less than it was 10 years ago.

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