The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved a $230 million amendment to its six-year improvement plan to accommodate a 6.2-mile Western Bypass around Route 29 in northern Albemarle County.
Now, the question is whether the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will remove language in its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to allow the bypass. In a July 15 letter to Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, the MPO "respectfully request[ed]" that the CTB also approve funds for a number of other local transportation projects.
Although the MPO has included the Western Bypass in its TIP, it has also included language barring funds for construction for nearly a decade.
"As I understand it, state’s allocation of funding today doesn’t really have the effect of making fed funds available to project until MPO amends its TIP and long-range transportation plan," says Morgan Butler, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. And, as the MPO has not removed the language yet, it may still be able to leverage bypass approval to help fund local projects.
The MPO hosts its second public meeting on the proposed bypass on July 27 at 4pm, and is not necessarily required to vote on the bypass at the meeting. Albemarle Supervisor Ken Boyd, one of four supervisors to support the removal of bypass-barring language from the TIP, will host a public meeting on July 26 at 6:30pm at Baker Butler Elementary School. VDOT officials will also attend the meeting, to hear public comments and take questions.
Governor Bob McDonnell said in a statement that the bypass would "[reduce] congestion along the Route 29 corridor north of Charlottesville and providing an alternate route that will more efficiently move regional traffic, including commercial freight, to its destination." The statement also mentioned that VDOT will continue design work for both the bypass’ northern interchange and the expanded section of 29.
Below, a map of the right-of-way parcels (in pink) acquired by VDOT for the Western Bypass. And leave your thoughts on the proposed bypass.