SELC Releases Go29 Video, Shines Spotlight on Better, More Cost-Effective Alternative to Proposed
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) today released a new video, “Go29,” that highlights a better way to fix traffic problems on Route 29 than the proposed Western Bypass.
“Our community has invested a great deal of time and effort into developing a way to solve traffic backups on 29 without building a destructive bypass,” said SELC senior attorney Morgan Butler. “This video demonstrates the key pieces of that approach and the many benefits it offers—benefits the $250 million bypass does not offer.”
“We hope people will watch this video, share it, and work with us to put the focus back on this smarter alternative,” Butler said.
The Go29 video and more information can be found here: www.LetsGo29.org.
“The bypass only offers minimal time savings to drivers passing through the area, and it offers even fewer benefits for local drivers, who make up the vast majority of traffic on 29,” said Butler. “The bypass won’t provide the new connections to work, schools, and stores along the 29 corridor we so desperately need. We should be pursuing solutions that make the corridor work for those passing through the area and local drivers alike.”
The Go29 video highlights six ways this can be accomplished, including:
– Improving the interchange with the 250 Bypass near Best Buy;
– Building an overpass at Hydraulic Road to eliminate a major source of congestion and allow through-traffic on 29 to flow without stopping;
– Extending Hillsdale Drive parallel to 29 to give local drivers ways to reach destinations without having to use 29;
– Building an overpass at Rio to solve this traffic snarl (same concept as Hydraulic);
– Extending Berkmar Drive up to Hollymead Town Center and beyond, so that drivers could go from Kmart to Lowe’s to Target without getting on 29; and
– Eliminating the bottleneck between the Rivanna River and Hollymead by widening 29 in both directions.
Taken together, these solutions are more cost-effective, less environmentally destructive, and provide greater benefits than the proposed 29 Bypass.
According to the Jefferson Area Community Survey conducted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Survey Research in March 2012, nearly 67% of respondents said they wanted decision-makers to evaluate alternatives to the bypass.
“Clearly, we should be pursuing a solution that solves traffic problems on 29 directly, protects our children’s health, avoids a major drinking water reservoir, and invests taxpayer money wisely.” Butler stated.
Unfortunately, local and state officials have put key pieces of this alternative at risk by fast-tracking the proposed Bypass.
Although a contract for the bypass was awarded in June, final design work and construction can’t begin until an important environmental review has been completed and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) determines whether the project should move forward. As that process unfolds this summer and fall, FHWA will hold at least one public meeting where community members can raise concerns and demand full consideration of the alternative before a final decision is made.
“The Charlottesville-Albemarle community deserves better,” Butler said. “Our community will have a critical opportunity early this fall to make it clear to state and federal decision-makers that we have developed a far superior alternative since the bypass was shelved a decade ago, and that is the solution we support.”