New set of Charlottesville-area Route 29 upgrades earns local endorsements

This aerial view shows the recently completed grade-separated intersection where Route 29 crosses under Rio Road north of Charlottesville.   (© Virginia Department of Transportation)

Looking to build on the success of the recently completed suite of improvements to Route 29 in Charlottesville and Albemarle known as “Route 29 Solutions,” three decision-making bodies have now provided the approvals needed for the region to seek state funding for improvements to another key part of the corridor.

Last night the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization joined Charlottesville’s City Council and Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors in unanimously endorsing a package of projects proposed for the congested area around the intersection of Route 29 with Hydraulic Road. The proposals include a grade-separation at that intersection and other projects that will expand the local road network, increase travel options, and smooth traffic flow on the highway. A grade-separated intersection untangles traffic at an intersection by carrying the main flow over or under the intersecting road.

SELC has been working closely with the community for many years to advance targeted and interconnected fixes to enhance the effectiveness of Route 29, rather than paving a destructive new bypass around it. This approach is paying huge dividends: Travel times during rush hour have dropped by 20 percent since completion of the initial projects, and the number of accidents in the vicinity of the revamped Rio/29 interchange has been cut nearly in half.

For the past 15 months, SELC has been serving on a panel working with the Virginia Department of Transportation and its consultants to develop a set of transportation proposals for the Hydraulic/29 area. The panel has also developed a “Small Area Plan” that will work in concert with the transportation projects to guide the transition from a suburban retail strip to an area that offers a greater variety of housing types and jobs, creates safer routes for walking and biking, enables effective transit service, and makes travel on Route 29 a lot smoother for everyone who uses it.

The Hydraulic/29 projects will now be submitted for evaluation under Virginia’s program for prioritizing transportation funding, known as SMART SCALE. As the success of the recently completed Route 29 Solutions shows, these projects would provide tremendous benefits to the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, as well as to localities to the north and south who use the highway for regional travel.  SELC will be promoting those benefits during the upcoming SMART SCALE process to continue the significant progress we have made toward improving this important corridor and the communities around it.

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