Will city use Western Bypass to get Hillsdale, Belmont Bridge funds?

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On June 8, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors recommended that the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) remove language that bars funding for the Western Bypass—a 6.2-mile, $200-million-plus road project that has been largely untouched (but not undiscussed) since 2002. Much to the shock and chagrin of fellow supervisors Ann Mallek and Dennis Rooker, Scottsville supervisor Lindsay Dorrier changed a previous vote and tipped the board to a 4-2 decision after the state transportation secretary, Sean Connaughton, promised that Virginia would fully fund the bypass.

Charlottesville also has reps on the MPO and a say in the matter, which City Council will discuss tonight before the MPO takes it up in late July. And while they’re at it, councilors might consider leveraging Western Bypass talks to direct state funds to a few other transportation projects. According to a report, city staff will recommend that City Council request full state funding for two city transportation projects—the extension of Hillsdale Drive and the renovation of the Belmont Bridge—if they plan to follow the county and support the bypass.

Charlottesville has already asked to reallocate $1.5 million to Hillsdale Drive from plans to widen Fontaine Avenue, and council will also hear Belmont Bridge design recommendations tonight. Councilor Satyendra Huja, up for re-election, told Charlottesville Tomorrow that the current City Council had not taken a position on the Western Bypass, and he would seek council’s opinion.

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