Neff drives Eastern Bypass, Boyd criticism before election

Robert Frost has a thing or two to say about divergent roads. So do Republican Ken Boyd and Democrat Cynthia Neff, the two candidates for Boyd’s seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, November 8, the roads most traveled may be those to the polls, where county voters will likely weight the benefits of the revived Western Bypass project to decide candidates’ fates. However, Neff wants to be sure that the $200 million to $300 million Western Bypass isn’t the only road under consideration.

Last week, Neff e-mailed supporters and media to share a February e-mail from Boyd to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton. In the e-mail, titled “Rt 29 Bypass around Charlottesville,” Boyd asks Connaughton about funding an Eastern Bypass through Keswick and north along the borders of Fluvanna and Louisa counties before rejoining Route 29 in Orange. In the e-mail, Boyd asks whether such a project, which would “facilitate expansion of the Defense Intelligence Agency in our area,” could qualify as an evacuation route eligible for $100 million in Homeland Security funds.

“This is a non-story,” Boyd told C-VILLE via e-mail. “The only truth to the press release sent out by my opponent is that I voted against the Eastern Bypass.”

That he did. During a May meeting, Boyd asked whether the Eastern Bypass was still included in a list of Albemarle County road projects. David Benish, Albemarle County Chief of Planning, responded that the project was a “placeholder” that appears on several county plans, but held low priority. Boyd added that the Eastern Connector Study Committee had deemed the project impractical.

However, Boyd was also the only supervisor to vote against a 2009 resolution that stated the board’s opposition to an Eastern Bypass. Accordingly, Neff doesn’t agree with Boyd’s assessment of the e-mail to Connaughton.

In a letter to her mailing list, Neff asked, “Does funding exclusively drive our transportation decisions? Is this an acceptable way for a supervisor to go about setting our transportation policy?”

Neff told C-VILLE that she “thought the subject of an Eastern Bypass through Keswick was off the table. But that’s what we thought about the Western Bypass until it was resurrected in the middle of the night in June.”

Boyd responded that, “sometimes we need to know all the facts about proposals so that we can be prepared to defend a position.” He added that “any further discussion simply adds credit to a totally fabricated political dirty trick.”

So, according to either candidate, both roads are connected. It just depends on what you see in the connection. Boyd’s campaign recently mailed a flier to residents that said the incumbent “supported and acquired funding for the Western Bypass” and “stopped an Eastern Bypass from crossing our historic Keswick countryside.” Neff maintained to C-VILLE that the letter is “yet another example of Ken Boyd trying to work a deal on his own without public input,” referring to the late-night vote that unexpectedly kickstarted the Western Bypass discussions. As roads diverge at the woods, it’s your call on whether to veer right or left.

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