VDOT Data Shows Route 29 Bypass Could Decrease Commute Time - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VDOT Data Shows Route 29 Bypass Could Decrease Commute Time

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New information from the Virginia Department of Transportation shows that if built, the proposed Route 29 Western Bypass could shave a significant amount of time off your commute.

Those in favor of the bypass say it's important people stick to the facts during this ongoing, heated debate.

The timing of having this information released to the public couldn't be better for bypass supporters. The statistics come just two days before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed bypass.

Going into that Board of Supervisors meeting, those in favor want data, not opinions, to dominate the discussion.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Free Enterprise Forum asked VDOT for recent studies it had done comparing drive times with and without a bypass. A travel-time study in December shows that the bypass compared with no bypass could save drivers up to 22 minutes a day. It would also reduce travel time for people who use the existing Route 29 by up to seven minutes depending on direction and peak hours.

"Data-driven decisions are good decisions. This is more data that helps support that a bypass of Charlottesville will be the best not only for the traffic going through Charlottesville, but for all of Charlottesville,” said Neil Williamson, president of the Free Enterprise Forum.

This study is based on projections for the year 2040. According to the study, if the bypass were not built it could lead to the equivalent of 10 hours of congestion per day.

Albemarle Supervisor Ken Boyd believes the bypass is the way to go.

"It's about 60 to 40 percent people in favor of building this bypass, and the solid majority is still out there and I think they need to be counted," he said.

Supervisor Diantha McKeel, who is opposed to the bypass, drafted a resolution that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors could adopt if they change their position on the bypass after hearing Albemarle citizens’ thoughts during a public hearing Wednesday.

For more information from the Free Enterprise Forum on the VDOT data, click here.

Southern Environmental Law Center Statement on Travel Time Analysis:

Charlottesville, VA – The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement today in response to a press release issued by the Free Enterprise Forum discussing a travel time analysis of the proposed Charlottesville bypass:

The traffic analysis the Free Enterprise Forum released today is at odds with the findings of every traffic analysis of the 29 corridor done over the past 25 years. The analysis has not been publicly vetted, and the assumptions underlying the data are sketchy. But one significant shortcoming is readily apparent— it compares building the proposed bypass to making no major improvements to Route 29, when no one is arguing for doing nothing.

To the contrary, the County’s Places29 master plan, which it developed working closely with VDOT and the MPO, focuses on a set of key improvements to 29 to make traffic flow, including fixing the chokepoints at the Rio/29 and Hydraulic/29 intersections. Yet the comparison the Free Enterprise Forum has released assumes no fixes to either of those intersections while at the same time acknowledging that they are the two major bottlenecks in the corridor. So of course the bypass looks good when compared to doing nothing at Rio and Hydraulic. The picture would look quite different if the proposed bypass were compared to a real alternative. Indeed, when VDOT analyzed the bypass two years ago, it found that an overpass would cut delays at the congested Rio/29 intersection by nearly 3.5 minutes—more than 4 times the savings the bypass would offer there.

The analysis released by the Forum also ignores the important point that the bypass would make traffic worse above the northern terminus and below the southern terminus by dumping more cars and trucks into two areas of serious congestion, including the dangerous intersection of Ashwood/29. The analysis completely fails to assess the impact the increased congestion in those areas would have on travel times.

Releasing this new, unvetted and cherry-picked data just prior to a public hearing is clearly an attempt at a “Hail Mary” by bypass supporters hoping to keep the bypass proposal alive.

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