Albemarle Supervisors to Hold Another Public Hearing on Rt. 29 Bypass
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (WVIR) -
Albemarle County supervisors voted Wednesday to hold another public hearing on the Route 29 Western Bypass.
Supervisor Ken Boyd was the only one against another hearing. He believes rehashing years of debate might not be such a good idea and that, at this point, there is nothing to be gained from a public hearing on an issue with no new developments.
"We debated it for the last three years almost continuously,” Boyd said. “It's been debated in the press, we've had letters to the editor, people show up at every meeting and talk about the 29 Bypass, pro and con, and I just don't see dragging the community through this whole process anymore until we have some more answers to questions."
He says the only question left is what will happen to the money that's already been spent. Right now that's $52 million he says the state is going to want back if the bypass doesn't happen.
“Will they take back that money from other projects? And we talk about, we want Hillsdale Drive extended, we want the Best Buy ramp, we want the Belmont Bridge, we want widening of 29. The way I read the law, they could take that money back because we refuse to build and reallocate it somewhere else in the state,” Boyd said.
But Charlottesville attorney Morgan Butler says this might not be a major problem.
"The majority of that $52 million that has been spent has been spent to acquire property. That property can be sold back, it's not like that's a sunk cost,” Butler said.
Butler says if this money is recouped, it can be used for other transportation projects that would better solve traffic problems on 29. He also says he is glad there will be a meeting about the route with the new board so the public can get a sense of its stance on this issue. That public hearing is scheduled for February 19 at 4 p.m.
Southern Environmental Law Center Press Release
Charlottesville, VA: The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors announced today that it will hold a public hearing to seek input on the controversial Charlottesville Bypass at the County Office Building on Wednesday, February 19, beginning at 4:00 pm and lasting through the evening until all speakers have been heard.
The hearing is one of the first moves from the new Board of Supervisors after the four pro-bypass candidates running in last fall selection were all soundly defeated. The proposed bypass has been a constant source of controversy ever since the prior Board reversed decades of County policy to strike a deal with the McDonnell Administration that abruptly revived the troubled proposal in an unannounced, late-night vote in mid-2011. Local residents have raised strong objections to the obsolete route, its destructive environmental impacts, its proximity to six local schools, and the folly of sinking $250 million into a project that offers minimal benefit to the community.
“This issue is critical to the future of Charlottesville and Albemarle,” said Morgan Butler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. "Everyone agrees we need to address traffic problems on Route 29, but reviving an ineffective proposal from two decades ago that would route a new highway through our community is not the answer. And with better alternatives available, we simply can’t afford to burn a huge chunk of our transportation funding on such a wasteful project."
The unexpected revival of the bypass has been particularly problematic because it would divert funding and resources from a community-developed solution to address traffic on Route 29 that is less destructive and more cost-effective. Approved unanimously by the County in 2011 and developed with guidance from VDOT, the "Places29" master plan calls for expanding the parallel road network around Route 29 and improving major intersections where traffic gets clogged. These improvements to the Route 29 corridor are designed to make it work much better for everyone including those of us who live here, and not just those who are only passing through the area.
The new Board of Supervisors is now asking all interested community members to attend and speak at the public hearing as they decide the best approach for addressing traffic issues on Route 29. "Our community sent a clear message of opposition to the bypass in November’s elections," said Butler. "We need to hammer that message home again on February 19th so that we can get real solutions to Route 29 traffic back on track."