Board of Supervisors Sets Public Hearing on the Future of the Controversial Charlottesville Bypass
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors announced today that it will hold a public hearing to seek input on the controversial Charlottesville Bypass at the County Office Building on Wednesday, February 19, beginning at 4:00 pm and lasting through the evening until all speakers have been heard.
The hearing is one of the first moves from the new Board of Supervisors after the four pro-bypass candidates running in last fall’s election were all soundly defeated. The proposed bypass has been a constant source of controversy ever since the prior Board reversed decades of County policy to strike a deal with the McDonnell Administration that abruptly revived the troubled proposal in an unannounced, late-night vote in mid-2011. Local residents have raised strong objections to the obsolete route, its destructive environmental impacts, its proximity to six local schools, and the folly of sinking $250 million into a project that offers minimal benefit to the community.
“This issue is critical to the future of Charlottesville and Albemarle,” said Morgan Butler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Everyone agrees we need to address traffic problems on Route 29, but reviving an ineffective proposal from two decades ago that would route a new highway through our community is not the answer. And with better alternatives available, we simply can’t afford to burn a huge chunk of our transportation funding on such a wasteful project.”
The unexpected revival of the bypass has been particularly problematic because it would divert funding and resources from a community-developed solution to address traffic on Route 29 that is less destructive and more cost-effective. Approved unanimously by the County in 2011 and developed with guidance from VDOT, the “Places29” master plan calls for expanding the parallel road network around Route 29 and improving major intersections where traffic gets clogged. These improvements to the Route 29 corridor are designed to make it work much better for everyone—including those of us who live here, and not just those who are only passing through the area.
The new Board of Supervisors is now asking all interested community members to attend and speak at the public hearing as they decide the best approach for addressing traffic issues on Route 29. “Our community sent a clear message of opposition to the bypass in November’s elections,” said Butler. “We need to hammer that message home again on February 19th so that we can get real solutions to Route 29 traffic back on track.”
Information about the public hearing can be found at: www.LetsGo29.org.