Eastern connector limps along

Eastern connector limps along

"I will be dead before this road is built," said Albemarle County’s Director of Community Development Mark Graham near the end of a steering committee meeting for the Eastern Connector, a proposed roadway that would deliver transit from Pantops to 29N. The comment—delivered with a subtle mirth from a middle aged but by no means old man—was a fitting epitaph for a road proposal that seems nearly DOA after recent information meetings resulted in a 90 percent rejection from the public.

One of the route possibilities for the Eastern Connector.

From those ashes, the steering committee assembled at 2pm on December 14 to mull over a future roadway that some members don’t even believe is needed. Despite his cynicism, Rivanna District Supervisor Ken Boyd was nevertheless in the position of advising consultant Louis Grimm how best to explain the impacts of a connector to the general public. In two late November sessions, three alternative connectors were presented, with the most efficient route saving a mere 1.9 minutes on overall travel time. "Why not just focus on rush hour?" Boyd wondered out loud.

Outgoing City Councilor Kevin Lynch had another idea: Why not consult the VDOT license plate study that was conducted only a few years ago? It sounded like a great plan—except that no one else could remember one having been done, including Juan Wade, county transportation planner. It existed, Lynch assured. He would find and e-mail it to everyone present.

Still, the vociferous reaction to the committee’s three alternatives hung in the air. "The perception is that this isn’t worth the money, and it’s certainly not worth going through my backyard," said George Emmitt, county citizen representative, in a summation that no one dared challenge.

At least one citizen favored the connection. "Ken, you are wrong," said city rep John Pfaltz, also on the steering committee. "We just keep trying to fix the same old roads."

"Somebody needs to sell me," the supervisor retorted. By 4pm, the Committee had adjourned, with one stipulation that everybody could agree to. "Let’s get some good numbers," Emmittt suggested, "or at least better numbers."

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