49% of US 29 Traffic Could Use the Western Bypass –That’s A Horse of a Different Color

By. Neil Williamson, President

In the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz”, the Guardian of the Emerald City refuses to allow Dorothy and her friends in until he recognizes the importance of her visit. When he realizes her identity, he proclaims, “Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that iWizardOfOzDoorGuyn the first place? That’s a horse of a different color! Come on in!” from this point forward the movie is in glorious Technicolor and the perspective changes dramatically.  Edited 9:05 pm July 7 See Comment 2 below NW

During my research on the Western Bypass of US 29, I had a similar “Bust my Buttons” revelation.

While digging into data on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) website, I reviewed US 29 North Transportation Corridor Study Technical Memorandum #3  “Existing Transportation & Urban Conditions Addendum”.

I found over 14,000 daily trips (all numbers based on 1998 CHART Regional Transportation model) that the opponents are cleverly not counting as Bypass beneficiaries.  Please let me explain this horse of a different color.

The Memorandum categorizes trips in three ways:

Trips with both ends outside urbanized Albemarle County – These are trips that have both ends outside (i.e., travel through) the urbanized portion of Albemarle County and use US 29 in the Places29 study area. These trips are regional through traffic.

Trips with one end inside urbanized Albemarle County – Trips that have one end in the urbanized portion of Albemarle County, outside the Places29 study area, and one end outside the urbanized portion of Albemarle County and use US 29 in the Places29 study area. These trips would include Greene County residents that work at the University or in Charlottesville.

Trips with both ends inside urbanized Albemarle County – These include trips made by persons living in the Places29 study area and working or shopping in the urbanized portion of Albemarle County (including Charlottesville) outside the area or by people from the urbanized area that come into the Places29 area to work or shop.This category also includes trips with both ends in the Places29 study area. These are trips made by persons living in the Places29 study area who also work or shop in the area.

us 29 logoOpponents claim that the ONLY trips that the western bypass would serve  the first category – through traffic (7,100).  While these trips would benefit, according to our research so would the majority of the second category ie: Forest Lakes to The University of Virginia.

There are approximately 21,400 external to internal trips that enter the urbanized portion of Albemarle County using US 29 North; these trips represent approximately 74% of the total 1998 ADT on US 29. Approximately, 14,100 or 67% of the trips that originate outside the urbanized portion of Albemarle County terminate in the urbanized portion of Albemarle County outside the Places29 study area and use US 29 in the Places29 study area. Approximately half of these 14,100 external to internal trips (7,800 trips) that pass through the US 29 North study area originate in or are destined for the remainder of the City of Charlottesville (city). Emphasis added – NW

horse3Based on this data, the Free Enterprise Forum extrapolates that the US 29 Western Bypass could serve at least  49% of US 29 traffic (1/2 External to Internal + External to External) – That’s a Horse of a Different Color.

Senator Daniel Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”.

Considering the most vocal opponents to the western bypass are well versed in this trip data, their vitriolic cat calls that this road serves no purpose is either a gross oversight or a deliberate error of omission designed to steer the debate away from the facts.

In either case, the community should demand better.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

(Photo Credits: MGM)

9 responses

  1. Dennis Rooker | Reply

    This is an incredibly misleading story/editorial. You’re right that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not his own facts. Opponents of the bypass have never claimed that only through traffic would use it. The 2010 estimates for the bypass traffic done by VDOT include all expected users of the highway, including local users. Those estimates have varied between 12,000 and 22,000 vehicles per day with an average of about 15,000 VPD, not even close to 49% of the total traffic count on Rt. 29, about 65,000 VPD. The bypass would cost about $250 million. In contrast, the Hillsdale Connector would take about 12,000 VPD off of Rt. 29 at its busiest location for a public investment of about $10 million. Which looks like the better investment of scarce public funds?

    You’re right, Neil. The public deserves better.

  2. Talk about playing loose with the facts! Everyone knows that the “Wizard of Oz” turns to Technicolor when Dorothy steps out of her house (Hello! Yellow Brick Road ring a bell?).

    The scene you describe comes much later, after she’s reached Emerald City.

  3. The Hillsdale connector will only deal with interior traffic, between Hydraulic and Rio. My understanding is that if the Western Bypass gets funded it will not take away from building the Hillsdale Connector.

    We need alternate routes to move traffic. Remember what happened when 29 was shut down when the President came? Or, if there is a multicar accident? There are virtually no other choices.

  4. Sorry, Dennis – The rest of the State cannot allow Albemarle to continue to “feather it’s nest” of roads serving local traffic at the expense of the rest of the State whose drivers want to BYPASS the mess of traffic and lights on Rt 29 – The Hillsdale connector is just a shortcut for locals to access shopping more easily and avoid the Giant Strip Mall that you have allowed to be created AND you spent vast amounts of money on widening Rt 29 and putting in more and more traffic lights that have given that piece of Rt 29 the rotten reputation that it deserves. Your only concern is protecting your own neighborhood….

  5. The bottom line, if the road is built, ALOT of people will use it. And I’d offer that businesses will benefit because I know traffic has gotten to the point that locals, myself included, don’t shop because they don’t want the hassle.

  6. […] we have written previously, the US 29 Western Bypass will provide traffic relief not only to through traffic but also to a […]

  7. Since this thread is full of speculation, here is mine:

    First, are you all aware that there are not any mid-point exits and entrance ramps on this “bypass?” (Supervisor Snow didn’t!) All you readers from Lynchburg need some accurate information.

    You have to make the whole trip to use the new “bypass”. Forest Lakes folks may have to go North, turn around and then go south. Think this will make you safer? The four lanes of southbound trucks will speed up right after Target and plow right down the Southbound entrance ramp of the bypass. Expect a few more additional traffic lights at this bottleneck.

    People who work at MJH, “downtown” Charlottesville, Pantops and points east will probably turn left at RIo and make the trip down the Meadow Creek Parkway, not the “bypass.” The Hillsdale Drive reportedly will siphon off 12,000 vehicles/day for 10 million taxpayer dollars as it connects the Meadow Creek Parkway to Hydraulic/250 and to easily access local shopping without getting on 29.

    17,000 people commute to UVa, but only a couple of a hundred live in Forest Lakes. Lots of folks commute from many other directions to UVa. Lots of “connector “backroads from the north are in use in addition to 29. Why doesn’t Uva tell us where all their employees live so we could build the best road for them?

    The Berkmar Drive extended, which was included in the Places 29 was an very useful road for Route 29 commuters that could be used for long and mid-point trips. It was “low speed” but likely “lower stress” than sharing the bypass with all those new 65mph diesel trucks that Lynchburg hopes to send us after we build their bypass.

    Those infamous “backups to the post office” will siphon off twice as fast with the additional Best Buy Ramp and may continue to back up on the southern and northern terminus of the new Bypass. Only at high speed with swerving and fast braking required. Don’t spill your coffee.

    Do you think gridlock is better? No need to spend 250 Million taxpayer dollars to choke on more diesel fumes while commuting to work. There are better and cheaper ways to solve our traffic problems.

  8. […] US29 Western Bypass taking the through trips (and many others) off of “Business 29” the overwhelming overpasses are not required.  A much smaller road cross […]

  9. H. Watkins Ellerson | Reply

    I cannot believe this boondoggle is STILL alive! I served (briefly) on the regional Rte. 29 bypass study committee many years ago when I lived in Orange, and I came to the conclusion that the Western Bypass was one of the worst ideas ever floated.

    1–It will be enormously expensive to condemn and build.
    2–It will not alleviate significant “through” traffic–most of what currently encumbers Rte. 29/Emmet St. is local or regional traffic; THUS
    3–If it is built, they will come! The Bypass will eventually become as horribly choked as most of the other streets and roads in Albemarle Co.
    4–It might eventually funnel much of what is currently bad about Rte. 29 right back onto Rte. 29, just a few miles further northward.
    5–No traffic that wants to get in & out of Charlottesville or the UVa. area will have any reason to use the Western Bypass.
    6–An EASTERN bypass from I-64 would be more useful for diverting through traffic completely around Metro C’ville and most points north on Rte. 29, not even merging with Rte. 29 at any point north but continuing past Leesburg and Point of Rocks, Md. to I-81 near Harrisburg, Pa.!
    7–FINALLY, an even better “solution” would be to get people out of vehicles altogether and use the rails parallel with Rte. 29 to move them north and south instead, and for Metro C’ville to build a competently run local electric transit system!

    OBVIOUSLY–none of that will happen.

    H. Watkins Ellerson
    PO Box 90
    Hadensville, VA 23067

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