Businesses Speak out on Proposed Rt. 29 Improvement Plan - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Businesses Speak out on Proposed Rt. 29 Improvement Plan

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If built, a $203-million improvement plan proposed by the Route 29 Advisory Panel, could do more harm than good to businesses along Route 29 in northern Albemarle County. Ahead of a public hearing on proposed traffic solutions to the busy road, those businesses on the front lines of construction are joining together to simply say: look at other options.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says if the plan is approved, construction would start next year and take several years to complete. Businesses in the area say that time frame is a death sentence.

Businesses are calling the proposed Route 29 solutions project more of a problem than progress.

Carter Myers, a business owner and former Commonwealth Transportation Board member, is leading the charge against ripping up Route 29 in front of Carter Myer Automotive. A four-page letter spells out his stance.

"It would be a nightmare to keep traffic moving. Plus you've got all these small businesses around here that could be out of business. Some of the people can't survive this construction,” said Myers.

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce says 600 businesses are in the path of the construction. CRCC Executive Director Tim Hulbert says a grade-separated intersection at Rio Road and Route 29 would destroy the region's vibrant commercial main street.

"People avoid those areas. Well, if you're in business you can't have customers avoiding your area,” said Hulbert.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing next week on the plan. The board wants to hear suggestions about the best ways to assist businesses affected by construction.

"While we cannot completely, obviously, get rid of any potential negative impacts, that we're doing the best that we can to support businesses during the construction process,” said Lee Catlin, Albemarle County spokesperson.

Myers says he agrees with six parts of the plan, including synchronizing traffic signals and widening parts of Route 29. He believes money should be set aside to study the economic impact of the proposed changes to the road before any work begins.

"So far it's Photoshop engineering. You can't build highways with Photoshop engineering. They've got to do true engineering studies, design studies,” said Myers.

Albemarle supervisors will hold a public hearing on the Route 29 Advisory Panel's recommendation on May 27 at 6 p.m. at the Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road.

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