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CTB-Approved Transportation Plan Includes Route 29 Improvements - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

CTB-Approved Transportation Plan Includes Route 29 Improvements

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From widening Route 29 to building a grade-separated intersection at Rio Road, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved a package of improvements for the Route 29 corridor Wednesday. It's all part of a $13.1 billion, six-year transportation plan.

Nine of the projects included in the transportation plan will directly impact traffic in and around Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

The price tag for projects in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area went up - standing now at $273 million.

Many want to see several of those nine projects, like synchronizing lights and increased regional Amtrak service, get underway, but some are worried about the impacts other pieces of the puzzle will have.

"I believe this is a colossal mistake. I do not believe that it is needed,” said Peter Chandler, Rio Road business owner.

"Our local economy will be affected. Both during construction, and after construction,” said Carter Myers, CEO of Carter Myers automotive.

While the goal is to help unclog congestion along Route 29 in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, many are worried about the future.

"I have a son in college and it's difficult with this economy just starting to come back. I'm not in a position to have my income reduced for say up to three years or more if other interchanges are added,” said Simona Holloway-Warren of Carter Myers Automotive sales.

"Business failures and the declining real estate tax base, etc. are not being reflected in the costs estimated by VDOT. Please don't do this with a heavy hand,” said Jim Plotkin of Dumbarton Leasing.

During the CTB’s meeting Wednesday, the $81-million grade-separated intersection coming to Rio Road and the 10-million engineering study planned for another one at Hydraulic Road spurred debate.

"It is shocking to me that the proposal has reached the state or where it's at today without having been scrutinized,” said Chandler.

Governor Terry McAuliffe told the group that this plan was put together in an open transparent forum, and it's time to get the ball rolling to improve the Route 29 corridor.

"The stalemate over the bypass was unproductive and it left citizens in the dark as to the future of their community. Like any true compromise, no one gets everything that they want,” said McAuliffe.

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Lane says VDOT will host meetings and work with businesses through the construction process. He also says changes are not out of the question.

Read the full list of projects that will affect traffic in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area and their price tags below.

Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved funding on nine projects to improve mobility and reduce congestion along the Route 29 corridor in the Charlottesville region. The projects are part of the Six-Year Improvement Program, which allocates $13.1 billion to transportation improvements statewide over the next six years beginning July 1.

“The program reflects input from the community and local governments, including public meetings and written comments received in the last few months,” said McAuliffe. “The public played an important role in helping the CTB to shape the transportation program, making the best use of limited resources on projects that will ease congestion and move traffic more efficiently.”

The allocations for the improvements recommended as a result of the Route 29 Solutions initiative include additional funding for projects already included in the six-year program as well as allocations for new projects that have been added to this year’s update.

The projects include improvements that will increase capacity and efficiency along Route 29 as well as several parallel road projects that will provide alternate routes for local traffic that will help reduce the volume on Route 29. Full funding for a second train from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C. is also included in the program. Money previously allocated to the Route 29 Bypass project is being reallocated to these projects as well as additional funding from other sources. The projects included in the update are:

Existing projects, additional funding to complete

· Route 29/250 interchange improvements, $6 million

· Hillsdale Drive Extension, $16 million

· Route 29 widening (Polo Grounds Road to Town Center Drive), $18 million

· Adaptive signal technology at 22 intersections on Route 29 in Albemarle County,

$3 million

Proposed new construction projects, total estimated cost

· Berkmar Drive Extension, $54 million

· Hillsdale Drive Extension (Hydraulic Road to Holiday Drive), $10 million

· Rio Road grade-separated intersection, $81 million

Preliminary engineering only

· Hydraulic Road grade-separated intersection, $10 million

Amtrak regional train service, Lynchburg to Washington, D.C.

· Full funding for an additional train, $75 million, including $5 million recommended by the Route 29 Solutions initiative

In Culpeper County, the $37.2 million project to build a grade-separated interchange at Route 29 and Route 666 is fully funded and will be advertised for construction in August. This intersection is adjacent to one of the county’s two high schools and replacement of the existing at-grade intersection has been a top priority for the county since Eastern View High School opened in the fall of 2008. The interchange will greatly improve safety, particularly for the young drivers and school buses going to and from the school. The county’s sports complex is also nearby on Route 666 and generates heavy traffic through the intersection with Route 29 on weekends and throughout the summer.

The six year program also includes funding for repairs to the Route 15 Bridge at the Culpeper/Fauquier County line. The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the early stage of evaluating the options to rehabilitate this bridge that spans the Rappahannock River on Route 15/29 Business just south of the town of Remington. The steel truss bridge was built in 1930 and is restricted to vehicles weighing no more than 11 tons. The program allocates $3.9 million toward the structure’s rehabilitation in Fiscal Year 2020, bringing the total funding available for this project to $4.8 million.

The six-year program will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritization process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by McAuliffe earlier this year. Under the process, projects will be objectively selected based on regional needs.

The CTB will work in collaboration with localities to set weights for key factors like congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety and environmental quality. Specific projects will then be screened and selected for funding beginning in July 2016.

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