US 29 as an Urban Boulevard or Expressway?

urban frontageBy Neil Williamson, President

The Albemarle County Planning Commission will be holding a public hearding on the Draft Places29 master plan on Tuesday (10/27) at 6:00 pm in the County Office Building.  In preparing for this hearing, I am concerned if the graphics presented match the plans being discussed or even agree internally. 

Take a look at these first two images:

US29 Future view

What speed would be appropriate for this road?

Note the large pedestrian crosswalk wide sidewalks and sidewalk cafe’ aka “Urban Frontage”.

If the speed limit was 45 miles an hour, would the East side of this urban boulevard feel connected to the West side? Or, would the urban boulevard cut the community in half?

Places 29 is not occuring in a vacuum.  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  released their vision for US 29/Hydraulic/250.  While concepts for an eastern bypass and a connection road called Leonard Sandridge Extended have been scuttled from the plan due to strong opposition, the vision for the 29/H/250 interchange remains.  Compare their graphic to the ones above:

Slide 1

What speed could be achieved with the so called “Kroger Flyover”?

Does this help or harm the concept of an urban boulevard?

A footnote in the VDOT presentation regarding the US 29 corridor indicates VDOT will (in the long term) be seeking grade separated interchanges for all intersections from 250 north past Ruckersville.

The planning for the elimination of direct access to 29 is in the works.  VDOT has desired this for some time but local officials have held firm that such access decisions are their purview where VDOT should be safety focused.

In the Places29 plan new “Jug handles” are envisioned to permit access and speed travel times.  In the map below, you can see left turn movements will not be permitted from Rio Road.  Places29 Rio Interchange

It seems as though Places29 is speaking from both sides of its mouth.  By reducing the traffic movements avaiable, the flow of traffic will increase; an urban frontage condition is enhanced by slower speed traffic.

So which is it? 

Are we trying to speed traffic through Albemarle using restrictive local transportation design?

Or are we attempting to slow it down with land use?

Or do we really think we can have it both ways?


3 responses

  1. Trying to “fix” Rt. 29 is like trying to “fix” a burned-out light bulb. BUILD THE WESTERN BYPASS!

  2. If I thought that any of this was ever going to happen in my lifetime, I might be able to get upset about this.

    Even the craziness of making Worth Crossing a major artery and making it difficult for me to go south on R29 from Forest Lakes North is laughable. By the way, build all the jug handles you want, I will go the back way, (passing two schools) and pop onto R29 via Hollymead or Forest Lakes south. It will be faster, except that everyone else will do the same.

  3. I love the Kroger fly-over. When can they start digging? Notice something else glaringly unrealistic with the Urban Blvd graphic? It shows only a handful of cars! What a joke, vehicles would be stacked like wood. And the artist should probably add some cyclists (a peleton) and people trying to walk their dogs through the maze of confusion as a Cvillian sits astride traffic in the far left lane, with blinker flashing, trying to make it into far right turn lane. I’m afraid the Rt. 29 mess has arrived into its painted corner.

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