County residents, officials debate Western Bypass late into night

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Last night, more than 90 people—county residents, City Council hopefuls, developers and more—attended a lengthy Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting to raise their voices and some ire over a 6.2-mile road that novelist John Grisham told the board would cost "$40 million a mile." Supervisors Duane Snow and Rodney Thomas, both members of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), ultimately said they would not vote on the Western Bypass at the July 14 MPO meeting until the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed in writing some of its support for other road priorities. Should those not be confirmed by July 14, the next likely date for a vote is July 27.

Charlottesville City Council candidate Scott Bandy told supervisors he attended the meeting "in contrast to current city council stance," a reference to a council vote to oppose the bypass. Representatives from both the Charlottesville and Lynchburg Chambers of Commerce spoke in favor the the bypass, as did developer and Great Eastern Management Company President Chuck Rotgin, who holds a good deal of property along Route 29N.

Bypass supporters were outnumbered by opponents, who criticized the proposed road for its $200 million-plus price tag, its potential impact on the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and in light of previous studies that state the road would reduce roughly 18 percent of "bad case" traffic between Rio and Hydraulic roads—approximately 10,900 vehicles per day, of an average 50,700. However, those numbers are from data circa 1987, prior to the construction of 29N destinations like Hollymead Town Center, and some residents believe that the local traffic problem has intensified over time, while a bypass would only alleviate through-traffic issues.

Don’t take our word for it. Instead, head to the MPO meeting at the Albemarle County Office Building at 4pm.

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