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Supervisors oppose “eastern bypass” and other VDOT recommendations for U.S. 29

By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has formally expressed their concern about recommendations being proposed by

VDOT’s corridor-wide study of U.S. 29

. At their meeting on October 7, 2009, the Board voted 5-1 to pass a resolution opposing some of the study’s recommendations involving Albemarle County.


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This map shown at the recent public forum on the corridor study depicts a new road passing through eastern Albemarle County. Click through for a larger image (.PDF)



(Source: VDOT)

In addition to the

extension of Leonard Sandridge Road

and the creation of a new elevated interchange  to connect U.S. 29 to the 29/250 Bypass, the study also recommends study of a new road to connect Culpeper to I-64 along the Route 15 corridor. However, VDOT’s map shows that route passing through Albemarle County  along its eastern border with Louisa County.

Supervisor

David Slutzky

(Rio) said this concept was put forward without any input from the community. He was also concerned that the dotted line depicting the route passes through lands currently protected from development through conservation easements.

“It’s a disastrous idea and it’s going to have a chilling effect on the opportunity to get more conservation easements in that portion of the County where they are desperately needed and highly valued,” Slutzky said.

Supervisor

Dennis Rooker

(Jack Jouett) said he was concerned the study also recommended that legislative action be taken to require localities to insert language into their comprehensive plans to accommodate for the recommended alignments.

The resolution specifically outlines the County’s opposition to the extension of

Leonard Sandridge Road

and the so-called eastern bypass. The resolution also asks for Hillsdale Drive Extended and the widening of U.S. 29 from the South Fork Rivanna River to Hollymead to be include in the  corridor study. It also contains language against the elevation of state priorities over local ones.

“Localities should not be required to include specific transportation projects in their comprehensive plans that are not approved by the locality and the applicable MPO,” reads the resolution.

Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) said he also opposed the eastern bypass, but could not support the resolution because he believes VDOT should consider the extension of Leonard Sandridge Road.

“I strongly believe that we need that route on the western side, whether you call it a parkway or a parallel road or a bypass,” Boyd said. “I’m not willing to say totally take that western bypass property off the map.”


Download the resolution (.PDF)

Several members of the public spoke out against the idea at the Board’s meeting on Wednesday. Keswick landowner Harrison Taylor said the alignment further diminishes the property values of land already placed under easement.  Morgan Butler of the Southern Environmental Law Center said he was concerned that the study would form the basis of a corridor implementation plan that would require localities to modify their comprehensive plans. Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council applauded VDOT for recommending access management and parallel roads in the study, but had reservations about the specific new roads being proposed.

The public comment period for the study ends on October 16. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will consider the study at its meeting in November.


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