County board remains split on Western Bypass 



Albemarle County Supervisor Chris Dumler said he wanted to see for himself how the proposed Western Bypass would interact with the environment, so he hiked the 6.2 miles before Wednesday’s vote. (Photo by Aaron Richardson/The Daily Progress) 

Last week the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors continued arguments over the long-debated route 29 Western Bypass. Supervisor Chris Dumler walked the path of the road in its entirety, and the Board took two separate votes at Wednesday’s meeting, both of which resulted in a 3-3- tie.

On Tuesday morning, equipped with hiking boots, a GPS and no rain coat, Dumler set off on the 6.2 mile hike, through lowlands, dense poplar trees, and at least 20 small streams. He said he wanted to see for himself how the bypass would interact with the environment, and was concerned about its proximity to multiple schools.

When asked about his stance on rural development, he said he does “not hate all roads,” but constructing paved monstrosities is not always the answer.

“I hate paved roads when paving runs counter to other goals that are outlined in our comprehensive plan,” he said. The Board of Supervisors’ comprehensive plan, he said, calls for preservation of rural areas, balancing infrastructure and amenities with rural considerations.

After getting rained on and covered in ticks on Tuesday, Dumler offered little comment at the next day’s meeting, but firmly voted “No” along with Chairwoman Ann Mallek and Supervisor Dennis Rooker.
Mallek requested that the vote be added to Wednesday’s agenda in order to eliminate ambiguity and officially state the Board’s position.

Supervisors held a vote last June to remove policy language that opposed the allocation of funding for construction of “a bypass,” and some Supervisors argued that the result did not accurately capture the board’s stance as a whole on the Western Bypass. Mallek said she didn’t think the 4-2 vote properly represented the Board’s current stance regarding this particular bypass, so she requested an official vote that would state the Board’s position.

After an hour’s worth of public comment during which community members expressed their opposition to the road, the Board officially voted. After the expected 3-3 tie, Supervisor Ken Boyd moved for a second vote. This vote regarded the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s support for the bypass, which also deadlocked at 3-3. Supervisors said the votes were mostly symbolic and the bypass process will remain unchanged, but at least the Board’s stance has been clearly documented.