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Rt. 29 Advisory Panel Members Differ on Improvement Options - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rt. 29 Advisory Panel Members Differ on Improvement Options

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With the Western Bypass off the table, the Route 29 Advisory Panel keeps narrowing down other options to improve the corridor in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

The group met for the third time Thursday afternoon, but progress is slow. It's clear there is a big gap between panel members about what should be done.

The panel heard a presentation from the technical team studying the corridor, then debated pros and cons. It all took more than two hours, with few results coming Thursday.

Jane Dittmar, the representative from Albemarle County, sees the potential to kill two birds with one stone, solving congestion problems and fund local parallel roads that have already been planned out.

“This gives us the opportunity if the Commonwealth Transportation Board is so willing to do is to give us that money now so we can complete those projects," Dittmar said.

Right now, there are two major ideas on the table, each with a high and low build variation. One would put an express lane through the median on Route 29. The other would complete Berkmar and Hillsdale drives, which run parallel to the corridor.

Dittmar says one has much more support with those who live nearby.

"The one that enjoys the most local support, which of course I'm very favorable to, is the parallel road idea,” she said.

That option would also be cheaper. But Turner Perrow, the panel representative from Lynchburg, says he's worried. He thinks the money should be used to improve Route 29 itself, not any other roads.

"We believe that the best use of the money grade separated intersections at the busiest intersections such as Rio Road and Hydraulic Road. We do not think that the best use of the money would be for the Berkmar extended drive, because you're already widening Route 29,” said Perrow, who is a member of Lynchburg City Council.

Panel moderator Phillip Shucet says the final options will likely be a blend of both perspectives.

"The recommendation is probably not specifically one of these four options, but a combination of components from them,” Shucet said.

Shucet and his technical team will be bringing two condensed options to the next panel meeting, scheduled for May 8.

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