US 29 Consultant Conflict?

By. Neil Williamson, President

The recent Greene County Multi Modal Corridor Study conducted by Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission(TJPDC), included the following statement on page 22:

 

This pattern [of development] requires the primary arterials in Greene County [US 29 and Route 33] to function both as local main streets and as fast moving regional highways. When a street is asked to perform to contradictory functions, performance of both will suffer.

 

But wait, Greene County shares a border with Albemarle County  to the south.  The Places29 plan under consideration by the Albemarle County Planning Commission includes the following Guiding Principle (Page 2-2):

An efficient, effurban frontageective, and accessible transportation system will serve users across the entire spectrum, from local trips to regional ones, and it will be multimodal—including vehicular, transit, pedestrian, and bicycle access. In particular, improvements to the US 29 corridor should recognize and address the road’s multiple purposes. The system will also address the movement of freight by truck, train, and air. {emphasis added-NW}

 

Therefore, dependent on which consultant you believe, either US 29 is a highway of national significance or should be open to both local and regional traffic so long as those passing through enjoy the wide thoroughfares, bike lines, sidewalks and bistros along the way.

Earlier this week, The Lynchburg News Advance ran their editorial opinion of Places 29.  Not surprisingly, the editorial, Cracking the Charlottesville Bottleneck, was highly critical of the plan.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Once again, the folks up the road in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are doing all they possibly can to forestall any solution to the U.S. 29 corridor nightmare. . .

… But all the planning has ground to a halt in Charlottesville and Albemarle, where monied residents and their elected officials fancy themselves as the center of the universe. No bypass of our fair city is needed, they’ve said for years, because there is no traffic bottleneck — it’s mainly just local traffic, they say.

Now, county planners have unveiled “Places29,” a proposed master plan for the U.S. 29 corridor north from Charlottesville to Greene County. It’s a plan that would further concentrate commercial, mixed-residential and residential growth along U.S. 29. …

… Well, isn’t that convenient.

And extremely self-centered, even for the leaders of Charlottesville and Albemarle. For them, the world revolves around their little hamlet, much like popes of the Middle Ages believed Earth to be the center of the universe. (News flash: It’s not!)

The nightmare that is U.S. 29 through Charlottesville and Albemarle is a problem for all of Virginia, especially Southside and Central Virginia. And it must be looked at as a regional problem that needs a regional solution, not a parochial, “new urbanism” plan that serves only the interests of Charlottesville and Albemarle. …

The editorial closes with a rather pointed conclusion:

Places29 is an expensive academic exercise that serves only the perceived needs of a privileged few in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, not the needs of the many up and down U.S. 29.

So now the half billion dollar boondogle known as Places 29 features conflicting consultants visions and at least one out-of-town newspaper calling for a different direction (a bypass direction).  All this before the Virginia Department of Transportation weighs in with their vision for the US 29 Corridor from the North Carolina line to Gainesville.  This can only get more interesting.

Stay tuned. 

 

 

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