With Dems ruling Albemarle, can the Western Bypass be rolled back?

Route 29 North outside Charlottesville. Photo: Jack Looney Route 29 North outside Charlottesville. Photo: Jack Looney

A week after Democrats swept the Albemarle County Supervisors election, focus on the Western Bypass is heating up yet again. In the weeks before the election, a group called the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition stirred controversy by running anti-Bypass ads that pushed for the defeat of Republican Bypass supporters Duane Snow and Rodney Thomas.  Some are now calling Snow’s and Thomas’ ousters a referendum on the controversial road, and a mandate for the Dems, all of whom oppose the Bypass, to reverse course. This far into the project, however, with millions of dollars in public funds already spent, questions remain: Is reversal on the road even possible? If so, how can it be done, and what will it cost the county?

Outgoing supervisor Dennis Rooker, an Independent and a longtime outspoken critic of the planned road, believes the new county Board, coupled with the new state administration, means the Bypass can—and will—be bypassed.

“We’re going to get a more rational appraisal again as to whether the state should invest over $300 million in this project,” he said two days after the election. Rooker and others think the “con” column on a Bypass analysis is now long enough to chill support at the federal level: widely acknowledged design flaws, evidence that traffic impact would be limited, a historic home and cemetery in the road’s path, and now, the public’s firm rejection of pro-Bypass pols.

Sitting Democratic supervisor Anne Mallek agrees with Rooker that the public was never in favor, and she says the election results confirm that.

“Somehow, people seemed to think that in the past four years, the majority of people wanted it, which is clearly not the case,” said Mallek. ”There was an astonishing margin in those races, which shows that people understood what the problem was, which is that we’re willing to spend a huge amount for a miniscule return.”

So who are the Bypass supporters? Certainly, a bunch of them live about an hour south of here.

During his campaign, Governor Bob McDonnell promised Lynchburg legislators, long hungry for a shortcut around Charlottesville, that he’d make the Bypass a priority, and Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton was gung-ho to help him keep that promise before the end of his term.

In April 2011, Connaughton invited the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization reps Thomas and Snow to meet in Richmond,  where the men agreed on a plan to revive the long dormant project. In exchange for county approval of the Bypass, the state would include funding for some high priority road projects including the Hillsdale Connector, the Best Buy ramp, and the extension of Berkmar Drive.

Two months later, in June, 2011, the four supervisors then serving—Republicans Boyd, Snow, and Thomas and Democrat Lindsay Dorrier—stunned their fellow supervisors Rooker and Anne Mallek by changing a rule on the spot and then holding the so-called “midnight  vote” to approve the Bypass.

Fast forward two and a half years, and the road is still stalled as the federal government reviews the environmental assessment conducted by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Rooker claims it’s not too late to turn back. The initial steps toward reversing the road, he said, are appointments. First, Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe will appoint a new Secretary of Transportation to replace Connaughton.

“People forget that if you go back to the eight years prior to the time McDonnell was in office you had secretaries of transportation that concluded the project was not a good project for the state to move forward with,” he said.

The new Board—made up of newly elected Dems Brad Sheffield, Liz Palmer, Jane Dittmar, Independent Diantha McKeel, and sitting supes Mallek, a Democrat, and Ken Boyd, the sole Republican—must appoint two new representatives to the Metropolitan Planning Organization to replace outgoing supervisors Thomas and Snow.

After those appointments are made, Rooker acknowledges, the reversal process could get sticky.

“The MPO could remove the project from its transportation plan, and the state would then be in a quandary as to whether it could proceed anyway,” said Rooker in an e-mail, adding that the federal law that governs the state’s right to do so isn’t completely clear.

MPO Program Manager Sarah Rhodes confirms that new MPO board members can block funding for the Bypass by removing it from the Long Range Transportation Plan and the Transportation Improvement Program, the two planning documents that dictate how federal funds are spent locally.

If that happens, it won’t just get sticky, said Rodney Thomas, it could get downright nasty.

“It’s a signed deal, as far as I’m concerned,” he said, suggesting that the government will demand its money be paid back. “It’s really not in our hands—it’s federal government and the state.”

Rooker said the idea that the county could be penalized if it backs out of the Bypass comes from two pieces of legislation passed with support from Lynchburg State Senator Steve Newman.

“If the MPO removed the project unilaterally, these statutes may provide a basis for a penalty against the Culpeper Transportation District and/or the Charlottesville/Albemarle area,” Rooker said. “How much that penalty would be can’t be computed today, as it isn’t clear what the cost to the state would have been.”

Reached in his Lynchburg office, Senator Newman said that the cost could be steep —$50 million, the amount already spent on the project including the purchase of right-of-ways.

Newman sees the Bypass as a rare opportunity, and said rejection could be disastrous.

“There are only a couple of times in a generation that an area like Lynchburg or Charlottesville gets an opportunity to have a major transportation improvement program,” he said, suggesting that if Albemarle County reverses course now on the road, the General Assembly is unlikely to approve any funds for future road projects.

“This is going to be crippling to the people in Charlottesville for many generations to come,” he warned.

Boyd agreed. “All the other dollars for projects that needed improvement are going to go away,” he said.

Rooker scoffed at the claims and said the path toward undoing the Bypass plan is clear, assuming the county and the state agree the road is a bad plan.

“The Bypass doesn’t work as now designed and will require more funding, perhaps substantially more,” said Rooker. “It certainly isn’t clear what would happen if the MPO refused to approve additional funding, which would be a new action.”

Boyd, the lone Republican on a new Board now stacked with Bypass opponents, strikes a conciliatory note and says that despite his concern over the impact of a Bypass reversal, he believes he’ll be able to work effectively with the new Board.

“My own personal experience has been, once we sit down at the table in the county, we throw away political tags and all that and try to concentrate on what’s best for Albemarle and this community,” he said. “I firmly believe that’s how our new supervisors will approach this.”

Mallek, the chair and the senior member of the Board’s new Democratic majority, said she’s ready to tackle the issue.

“I think it’ll be a top priority of discussion, no doubt about it, for all the reasons we’ve been concerned about all along,” she said.


  • Wanago Bob

    “Rooker scoffs”-because he will consider nothing that doesn’t kill a road that comes so close to his house ( a fact that is constantly omitted by reporters). His analysis has been often wrong (see his $500 to $600 estimates of road cost and other hair raising tales of the bypass).If you don’t think Albemarle will be punished for killing the road just watch and see what happens two years from now with no road and no money for anything else.

    If McAuliffe is really a dealmaker will his first move be to poison the well with every delegate he will need south of here? It’s a not a small thing to those south of here. Saying the election was just about the road is naive and unproven- Cuccinelli got 35% of the vote here dragging down all other R’s. That’s a lot of votes to make up. The key to dems success was superior turnout. It was part of their strategy from top to bottom based on the 2012 races and it worked like a charm. If the republicans don’t step up their ground game they will become as irrelevant in the county as they are in the city.

    • democracy

      Ah, if only the Tea Party Republicans were irrelevant – as they should be – across the nation. Instead, the new party anthem ought to be “Let Me Take You on a Tea Cruz.”

    • Josie

      Thanks for the info. I did my research and yes, the bypass would be right along or even slightly on Rooker’s property! Of course he’s going to find every reason to oppose the bypass. Cville needs the bypass.

      • Albemarle Annie

        No offense, but if you did your research, you would have uncovered the fact that Dennis’s personal property is nowhere near the proposed bypass route (although that route may have to change because of the Sammons property cemetery). He and his neighbors jointly (approximately 15 of them) went together to purchase a piece of property for common sharing. It is not developed, nor is intended to be, for anyone’s personal use.

        • Wanago Bob

          That’s just wrong- he will be able to see it from his back yard- look again.

      • Eric H Schmitz

        Keep doing your research. What you will find is that the poll done for Neil Williamson’s Free Enterprise Forum, a paid business lobbying entity and proponent of this ill-fated No-Pass, by Mason-Dixon in 2007, showed a majority of County residents favored a By-Pass solution… often touted by Messrs. Boyd, etal as “pro” support. What they will not tell you is that more people supported an Eastern By-Pass than Western. And who is on record for killing ANY Eastern Connector? Ken Boyd, who lives in Key West, directly affected by any Eastern Route that does not incorporate the current 250-Bypass alignment (opposed by the city, and very expensive). So, let’s begin with that hypocrisy, singling out Dennis Rooker’s alleged self-interests. Next, consider this: only 13 Percent support a By-Pass that terminates South of Proffit Road. Now look at a map. Why is obvious. How much congestion does a Northern terminus located at or near Ashwood Boulevard create, on top of what is there now? The question has been posed, and crickets chirp waiting for a response. This is why any rational, thinking individual who is non-partisan, objective, and I would argue, fiscally responsible, would never accept such an obviously flawed project on its face, regardless of cost, regardless of environmental and safety issues, regardless of whether it goes past Rooker’s house or Boyd’s neighborhood. It is an idiotic non-solution at an exorbitant cost — whether $250M (a lie) or $500M (a possibility). To save — according to VDOT’s own latest analysis including at-grade signalized interchanges — NO time whatsoever. So, sure, do your DD… just don’t stop when it serves a partisan purpose.

    • Albemarle Annie

      I researched and googled the quote that Dennis Rooker supposedly named a price of $400 million for the bypass, and could only find that Ken Boyd was the one who named that figure. In a Hook article (http://www.readthehook.com/103923/bargain-bypass-low-bid-cheers-roadway-supporters), Ken Boyd said “And if VDOT is confident the road can be built without going over budget, that deflates the “scaremongering” Boyd says has been going on. “What’s finally put to bed is that it’s going to cost $400 or $500 million,” he [Boyd] says.” Rooker NEVER made that statement. Please find the quote if you disagree.

      • Wanago Bob

        NBC 29 Sep 20, 2011 : Albemarle County Supervisor Dennis Rooker. “I don’t think there’s any question that those documents are in the VDOT files, that they indicate that VDOT thought the project was a whole lot more expensive, two or three times in terms of the construction cost.”

        The gun it is smoking

        From CBS 19
        Rooker says those numbers, which show the previously estimated $250 million road could cost as much as $500 million, were not disclosed when the project went before the Commonwealth Transportation Board for approval.

        Whoop- there it is!
        You’re welcome

        • Eric H Schmitz

          Which actually happens to be factual. FOI-released documents indicate that VDOT itself projects this project to cost far more than $250M, a fictitious figure on its face, seeing as if you add all the pieces already committed, you top that number, and all of the ROW has not been purchased — some of it very expensive and dear to the developers behind this push locally — the only ones to gain property value from mislocating this No-Pass. Rooker spoke the truth, something Connaughton doesn’t have to, and something you will rarely get from the old Gang of Four (now one). But, Bob, are you saying Boyd was wrong?

          • Wanago Bob

            No I’m saying what I said- Rooker was proven wrong by the bidding process and is prone to wildly speculation based on VDOT engineer musings that weren’t back up by a large construction companies actual bid . Estimates are not bids and it’s a ruse to pretend they are. Bids are real and contractual. Rooker was lawyerly in his obfuscation of the real cost. I will take a world class construction companies actual bid over one VDOT offices. Skanka does billions of dollars of construction every year and unless you can tell me how you, Rooker or anyone else that is saying it’s going to significantly more qualified to quantify a bid, I will continue take their word over yours.

            I have read your comments other places, Mr. Schmitz, and they are often wrong based on tidbits that have been overstated or twisted to fit your version. The bid of $250 million is a cold hard fact that no one has been able to explain away with any air of factual data or greater engineering authority. If you have this data please share it it with us now.

    • Eric H Schmitz

      Let me guess: Wanago Bob is Winston Grove by another handle? Whatever. We’ve read this “argument” elsewhere. (Note that proponents never post under their identity, and never make a fact-based argument, which I believe, go hand-in-hand.)

      Let’s count how many times ‘Bob” steps in it.

      One: The fact that Rooker’s home is “close” to the proposed alignment of the Western Bypass has indeed been noted almost too many times to count — I don’t care which media outlet you want to cite — it is a “fact” that is not only reported, but overplayed by partisan bashers, including a fellow BOS member. Should it be repeated in every article? Really?

      Two: Who is to say anyone’s “analysis” of the proposed connector road is correct. FOI documents show VDOT’s analyses all over the place, many higher than $500-600M. The contract entered into by the state fixes the cost of a design-build to a set of expectations and specifications, which with little disclosure and a lot of digging reveal arguably major design departures from the original design that is decades old. One of these is the allowable grade of the roadway through Stilwell Mountain, which no longer conforms to interstate standards. Important? That depends on what you think of fuel efficiency and truck noise and safety. If you are Sean Connaughton hoping to shoehorn a political travesty into a budget, probably no biggie. If you are a truck driver on your way ostensibly “around” Charlottesville, maybe not so great. If you live anywhere nearby, and are subject to the noise — Darden School anyone? — tough luck, eh? Flyover interchanges at both the Northern and Southern interchanges were scotched, saving $$$. Also, completely wiping out any time-savings argument. Narrower shoulders, less guardrails, less screening — all interstate standards — dropped. The actual construction of the highway — ie. the concrete and asphalt and roadbed materials — reduced to below interstate standard. We get a substandard highway for a premium cost — or — we make changes to the design-build AFTER we break ground. Hmmm. But somehow — without a final design — without the completion of ROW acquisition — “ByPass Bob” here “knows” the actual final buit cost of the highway, so certainly, that he can mock those who dig through VDOT’s own documents to get the facts. Remarkable.

      Three: the now bankrupt (but still played) argument that spending this “gift” of funding to a project in our backyard is necessary to avoid being punished. Try to follow the (il)logic: the Commonwealth’s ability to fund any highway improvement is constrained. The resources are not finite. Consuming more than is necessary (compared to viable alternatives) makes no sense. They can (and should) be re-allocated — ideally, to fund additional local projects. But unspent funds do not evaporate. The idea of “punishment” should be fiction — though arguably it gains traction when a corrupt Governor (McDonnell) gives fodder to downstate interests (in a bogus AG opinion) latched onto by an ambitious local pol 9Newman) to pass a POS legislation that couldn’t pass a stink test in an onion patch. Add in Connaughton himself, as the “engineer” driving this train, to make good on McDonnell’s Gubernatorial campaign promises. Such a House of Cards has been blown away. The mechanism for Lynchburg-Danville interests to “punish” Albemarle for being fiscally responsible with State and Federal Funds has vanished. It is a pipe dream. But it is the only card the wounded partisans behind this scandal have left to play.

      It is a pleasure to read what a GOP partisan thinks that their viable strategies are. From a pure entertainment perspective, it is priceless. Run a politically unacceptable candidate, lose, and blame the “ground game”. Enrcourage corruption and “game playing”, lose, and blame the public for being low, or no, information voters. I have always been an outsider to the GOP politics played in this backwater — it is foreign to someone who grew up with the party of Senator Everett Dirksen, and icons like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. I don’t know what “they” are, but its not a party of fiscal responsibility — not when you push this kind of pill.

      If people don’t get it locally, part of our job is to work with our friends downstate to bring real improvements to 29N that satisfy their needs. That is NOT a connector road that fails in every respect. You can “sell” it as a ByPass, but that time has ended. So my advice to the proponents of improving 29, get on with it. Stop wasting more time and money on a lost cause just to prove you can. It is the epitome of idiocy to advocate for a road that goes nowhere, and takes longer to get there, and costs us net taxpayer $$$.

      • Wanago Bob

        I have been Bob Wanago for quite sometime now, but how that matters is hard to understand. Argue the facts Mr. Schmitz – leave the petty bullying to teenage girls on facebook.

        As a democrat who wants this road, your musings and conspiracy theories seems trite and somewhat delusional. Rooker has pretend that the location of his home has nothing to do with his opposition- anyone looking at the facts, maps and his wife Ann’s founding of CATCO can properly figure out the truth. He has been wrong on cost and he sat on the MPO for many years and was the 800 gorilla who has personal starved this area for money for road projects. I will not miss him nor will most area residents who want these transportation project built now and not decades from now.

        • Eric H Schmitz

          Does posting under a fictitious identity matter “Bob”? Maybe not. But I am who I am, I have a professional reputation at stake each time I post, and maybe that does carry some weight in that I have to take direct responsibility for what I say here and elsewhere. You and others like you, do not.

          Either you did not read what I posted, or you want to resort to “petty bullying” like a teenage girl. You did not refute a single fact.

          I am not a “democrat”. I may disavow being a republican, but that doesn’t make me a democrat by default. For example, I supported Hurt in his run vs. Perriello, and have posted numerous “defenses” of the former and criticisms of the later. I voted for Mitt Romney. I have voted for and supported Rob Bell on numerous occasions, though his recent alignment with the radical AFP concern me. I voted for Ken Boyd several times. I also criticize him often. Apparently you are confused, and desperately trying to link me to Dennis Rooker. Too funny. And I am delusional?

          Nor am I anti-Bypass. Unfortunately, this is not a Bypass.

          People do in fact want solutions. They also expect leaders to be careful how they spend scarce resources. The 20+ year-old design is inadequate. The location is problematic. And the original design is being downgraded under a phony contract.

          No other project of this nature and size has been done in Virginia as a design-build — and that doesn’t raise flags for you?

          So, tell, me — be specific (for once) if you want to argue my analysis — where am I wrong?

          I could care less about your issues with democrats, Rooker, or CATCO. Those are irrelevant. Argue the case for building this POS, “Bob”.

          Is it that you can’t, that you resort to hysterics?

          “800 pound gorilla”? This project was stalled and “killed” because of several thousands of local residents with serious and legitimate concerns, not one mop-headed supervisor.

          If you want to be taken half seriously, use facts. And if me saying say is “bullying”, try this: Grow up. Because even $250 M is not chump change, especially when wasted.

          And, as noted elsewhere, most DO NOT want this particular project built.

          • Wanago Bob

            I see you have thrown up a smoke screen to obscure your lack of facts with meaningless sidetracks. Have you offered a reason why your emotional objections lack the credibility of a bonded $250 million bid from a world renowned construction company? No. Have you explained why $250 million is too expensive for this road.No. You have simply restated the same tired “reasons” instead actually responding to what was written. Let’s try this again. There is a legal bid of from a highly skilled construction company that you say is wrong- please prove how you know more than they do. You haven’t done that l.

            You really don’t pay attention- I’m a democrat, I wasn’t calling you one. There are plenty of us who want this road. Your professional reputation? Please explain what makes you qualified to even dangle that phrase in a thread.

            Your are clearly anti- bypass when it comes to this one. The phrase “I’m for a bypass, just not this one” is a dodge devoid of any serious consideration of history or public policy. Where’s your bypass going to be? If you can’t answer that than you can’t be taken seriously. All proposed bypass have critics who many object from geography and location. Many of the loudest critics are near it’s path. Aren’t you

          • Eric H Schmitz

            You are pathetically tiresome, and I tend not to suffer fools lightly. I have stated repeatedly here and elsewhere a long list of factual — not emotional — objections. Skansa is not in play here, so that is moot (talk about sidetracks). They give you a bad road for a price. $250 million is “too expensive” for any road that does not achieve its purpose — allegedly to decrease congestion and speed through traffic — especially when there are projects like widening 29 to the Greene County line, removing the dangerous “hump” heading North on 29, improving the southbound access to the 250 Bypass (aka Best Buy ramp), and providing grad separated intersections at key choke points like Rio. I oppose wasting public funds. Period. I also oppose poor process. I have been actively involved in the public phases of this project every step of the way since arriving here in 1980. I would support a ByPass, possibly, if it linked from approximately I-64, to North of US 33. Properly aligned, it could be done in two phases. It should have access at key points like 250W, Barracks/Garth, the Airport, etc. so that it serves local and through traffic needs. I think even you know –except of the sake of endless petty argument — what a true Bypass looks like. It Bypasses something.other than public input. Yes, any Western ByPass has its critics, and frankly, that is OK. I don’t recall living in a Kindgdom. Do I live near the path of this highway? It doesn’t run through my backyard, but yes, it is planned yo create a hug chokepoint in the most congested section of 29N, which happens to be where I live in the County. What’s your point? Another smokescreen, like the Skansa diatribe? Now, your turn. But if you once again dodge making any case for this road, I see no real purpose in following this discussion. You’ve shown no good faith effort to discuss much of anything relevant. Let alone factual. “Bob”.

          • Eric H Schmitz

            I would argue, more strongly, the case for a different kind of solution, one embodied in the Places 29 Concept to some extent. What is to be gained from laying down more pavement in rural areas (any real bypass, East or West) or congesting urban areas with useless infrastructure (such as this connector)?

            Improve existing 29N so that through traffic may flow largely unimpeded the length of the county. With some widening, regrading, and over/underpasses, and advanced signalization, not only can traffic times be reduced and stops eliminated, but traffic flow on Rio, Greenbrier, and Hydraulic improve dramatically.

            Invest in extending both Berkmar and Hillsdale as secondary, local traffic by-ways that link the shopping districts along 29N, provide flow of local bus traffic, and scale better into the kind of “Main Street” model small and medium and chain businesses all benefit from. There is no reason that Berkmar cannot continue North over the Rivanna, link up to Dickerson, and serve every commercial area, the airport, the UVA Research Park, and GE and take pressure off 29N as the ONLY way to get up and down this corridor. The East side of the corridor presents a greater challenge, and may indeed require reviving some earlier plans for a Meadowcreek Parkway extension right through Forest Lakes and beyond to the North of Proffit. The cul-de-sac model that Forest Lakes is predicated on is largely left intact, and existing Powell Creek and Timberwood already handle substantial local traffic. The point is to separate local trips and through traffic using existing traffic patterns and enhancing travel between point of connection.

            The $$$ spent on ROW thus far can easily be recouped and used, along with Connaughton’s allocation for this No-Pass, to do far, far more for the transportation needs of this community and for downstate than gerry-rigging an old design for another time. What is needed here is some progressive thinking, and listening to the public. The last few years have been a detour. Bury it. Move on.

          • Eric H Schmitz

            “As a democrat who wants this road, your musings and conspiracy theories… Grammatically, if you intended to say you are a democrat, you messed up badly. I should not have to explain this.

            And if a democrat, you have a rather odd affinity for partisan political talking points as well as an apparent disdain for all of that party’s candidates. Possible, of course. Credible?

  • Lawny

    We need the bypass and the state needs the bypass. I have heard no good reason why it should not be built.

    • Eric H Schmitz

      Hard of hearing? Or blind?

  • Myk

    I have heard no good reason why it should be built. Many reasons that it’s a COLOSSAL WASTE of money, that saves. . . how much time? 66 seconds. And the northern terminus has yet to be designed. How much more do you think that’s gonna cost?
    If we incur a $50M dollar penalty to put it to sleep forever, AND we build grade separated interchanges at Rio and Hydraulic (Places 29, pre-approved) We STILL come out paying less money than this ill-conceived ‘bypass.’ (That really doesn’t bypass anything, yet endangers the health of our county school children. {Shouldn’t THEY get a vote?})
    And don’t get me started on the illegal “mid-night vote”. . . .shady ass beeehatches be gone!

    • democracy

      This particular bypass is not much of one. A better alternative is either an eastern bypass, or one that stretches much farther to the west. Why might a bypass be needed? Because Route 29 is a major north-south corridor in the central part of the state. There’s a bypass around Warrenton, and Lynchburg, and a new(er) one around Danville. The holdout has been Charlottesville, and the person that helped to initially stop it here was Charlotte Humphris, a former board member who just happened to live in Colthurst Farms, right near the proposed bypass. Humphris, by the way, helped to push development into Greene and Nelson and Fluvanna, thereby placing more commuter traffic on the roads.

      No bypass, if one is actually built, will be inexpensive. The fact that Ken Boyd and his Republican brethren on the board engaged in the “midnight vote” to restore the bypass has sullied the idea for one to many citizens.

      It’s going to be interesting to see what this new board can do, and what it does.

    • Wanago Bob

      So much wrong about your post Myk. The overpasses are not pre approved -that’s wrong. Over passes aren’t designed, right of way are yet to be bought , and there is no money allocated for it. Places 29 total cost has been shown to be as high as $400 million (it’s a moving target that depends on how much gets finally approved).- That would be more than the bypass. Say goodbye to projects like the Belmont Bridge and other funded but unbuilt projects if we turn down the money for the bypass.

      There is a great deal of of over blown and just plan wrong data on this bypass but don’t look for Charlottesville Tomorrow to bring the truth to light. Perhaps Cville will.

  • John

    I am opposed to the Bypass because it would be built in close proximity to six area schools. The current design is just plain stupid.

  • RandySalzman

    The concept that “we” will be required to “pay back” $50 million to Virginia is irrational on its face. If there is such a bill through the legislature, then it is discriminatory toward a single political entity, TJPDC and it illustrates the depth of the conspiracy to blackmail our area. It would never stand up in court..
    Please consider:

    1) Virginia – the state – purchased some right of way options 20 years ago with this money. Albemarle County never purchased anything. Unless prior supervisors agreed, for some ridiculous reason, that Albemarle County would accept the state’s responsibilities, this is a state issue. Not a county. Albemarle County has no legal responsibility for state purchases.
    2) Those right of way purchases can always be sold back by the state. A question is whether Virginia (and NEVER Albemarle County) can profit by selling it at increased property values or whether the purchase price, plus inflation, might put a legal limit on the state’s sale of its right of way. But the state – and only Virginia — has the right to sell the land, not Albemarle County. Therefore, the money is, at worst, a wash and, at best, a profit to Virginia for its land speculation. When/whether it sells the right of way, that money is state money; not Albemarle County funds. Albemarle County, again, does not own the right-of-way. The state does.
    3) Even IF supervisors 20+ years ago agreed that Albemarle County would accept the state’s debt, that total of $47 million (not $50) in right of way purchase is millions less than the cost of this highway which Uncle Sam is not likely to fund anyway. (Please see EPA and Corps of Engineers reports and remember that FHWA’s “Highway Trust Fund” is projected to be bankrupt by 2017). Should Uncle Sam and Virginia throw “good money after bad?” The total costs for this highway will be over six times the “$50 million” which “we” allegedly might have to pay “back” to Virginia should it not be built. Plus, the state purchased “options” and the $47 million has not actually gone out the door.
    4) Since federal data illustrates that highways through residential areas decrease property values by 10 to 15 percent and this “bypass” highway will affect 1,500 homes in seven established neighborhoods, using May 2013 average housing sales figures, Albemarle County – if this highway is built – will lose over $80 million in taxable value FOREVER. To “save” $50 million today, we should ensure that we lose the taxes on almost twice that much in taxable value for eternity?
    5) If Albemarle County is responsible for this “past” money, why haven’t the three supervisors in favor of it been out forcing the purchase of right-of-way since they suddenly resurrected this highway in 2011? VDOT owns, today, slightly less than 2/3 of the needed “bypass” right of way and is NOT presently negotiating for additional ROW even though it owns absolutely zero right of way above the Rivanna River where the Northern Terminus will be. If Albemarle County is responsible for this $50 million, why haven’t Mr. Boyd, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Snow been pushing our county to acquire the rest of the needed right of way? They’ve done everything else to make this highway happen, after all.

    When you bring your brain, this “paying back” argument simply does not hold water. If there is legitimacy to the “pay back” argument, “bypass” proponents please make it. And if there is a “bill” of some kind, imagine WHY Steve Newman and crew rammed it through without any public comment. (Has anyone ever heard of it? And, by the way, doesn’t that lack of transparency sound familiar?) He was already, whenever this “bill” allegedly passed, was planning to blackmail Albemarle County
    Certainly, it is not our county or MPO policy to acquiesce to blackmail?Please, bypass proponents, argue this highway on it’s merits?
    This is the question as yet unanswered: “Why should taxpayers spend $300+ million on a highway when VDOT analyses says clearly that spending $80 million on overpasses at Rio and Hydraulic will do more to decrease congestion, more to improve safety and more to improve traffic speeds?”
    Lynchburg drivers want to get through this area faster. That’s their bottom line and it’s a reasonable one. Building the overpasses will do that. Building the bypass — with the presently accepted design — will, according to a VDOT consultant, INCREASE the time it takes trucks to get through Albemarle County by 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

  • CvilleVA

    I think the only thing proven to be irrelevant from this string of comments is Randy Salzman. Too much time on your hands and way to much disinformation .

    • Eric H Schmitz

      Be specific. What “disinformation”? And, for that matter, your contribution?

  • Reader

    This is easily the best synopsis of what the elections mean for the bypass that I’ve seen so far. Valuable.

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