The Western Bypass is a long-proposed 6.2-mile road to provide a limited access bypass of the commercial area on U.S. Route 29. The stated purpose of the project is to provide a bypass for Route 29 through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. However, the project's future is in jeopardy after a federal agency signaled it was unlikely to grant environmental clearance.
UPDATE: On February 18, 2014, the Federal Highway Administration informed the Virginia Department of Transportation they were unlikely to grant a new federal approval. Instead, VDOT was told to come up with a new purpose and need as well as alternatives to alleviate congestion. Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne has convened a 10-member panel to come up with other solutions to address congestion on U.S. 29. They met for the first time on March 27 and are expected to have a report by the May meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
Neither land acquisition nor final design can begin until the FHWA issues a “finding of no significant impact” document. That will only happen if VDOT conducts a "supplemental environmental impact statement" but VDOT has not indicated they will proceed.
On February 19, 2014, The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted 5-1 on a resolution calling on the Commonwealth Transportation Board to reallocate funding to other projects.
BACKGROUND: In June 2011, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors changed its policy position to support the Western Bypass and funding was approved for construction by the Commonwealth Transportation Board later that summer. In June 2012, the CTB awarded a $135 million contract to the team of Skanska/Branch Highways to design and build the road. In September 2012, VDOT held a meeting to gather public input on a draft environmental assessment VDOT conducted to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. An information meeting on three options for the southern terminus was held on May 23, 2013 at the Holiday Inn Charlottesville (University Area).
After the draft environmental assessment was published, historians argued that a cemetery off of Lambs Road was significant enough to merit protection. The keeper of the National Register of Historic Places agreeds and the former property of Jesse Scott Sammons was deemed eligible. VDOT has proposed an avoidance alternative that would shift the roadway slightly to the north, resulting in the possible need to take six different houses.