By. Amelie Bailey, 2011 Field Officer Intern
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday night (7/13) to hear public comment on their June 8 decision to remove opposition to the construction of a US 29 Western Bypass. In a packed house, the public hearing on this subject began shortly after 7 pm and ran for four hours, featuring over 100 speakers.
Opposition to the road proved to be the loudest voice at the hearing, with over 60 citizens speaking against the construction of the Bypass as it is currently proposed. Those against voiced disappointment with the process by which the decision to reconsider was made, namely the late night decision prior to any public comment on the matter.
Several speakers objected to the environmental impacts of a bypass so close to the South Fork Reservoir as well as to schools such as Agnor-Hurt Elementary, and Greer Elementary where play areas will be compromised. Opponents also voiced concerns for the tremendous costs of construction given that the most recent studies question the effectiveness of such a Bypass in solving Albemarle County’s congestion problems along the Route 29 corridor.
Over thirty citizens in favor of the Bypass spoke to support the recent decision. Those in favor brought up the economic benefits from better access to businesses and articulated concerns for safety along the current Route 29. Supporters also expressed a desire to cooperate better with the rest of the state by creating a Bypass. Most in favor of the Bypass believe the project is long overdue.
After the lengthy hearing, several supervisors defended their position in the vote taken on June 8th. Supervisor Snow (Samuel Miller) indicted that unless other items of more immediate interest to the community are guaranteed to be funded by the state Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), he and Rio District Supervisor Thomas (Albemarle’s representatives on the five member Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)) will not support the construction of the US 29 Bypass.
These items include funding for projects such as widening Route 29 from Rio Mills Road to Timberwood Blvd, improving the “Best Buy Ramp”, Berkmar Drive Extended, and a Hillsdale Drive Connector. Mr. Snow also assured that the funding for the Bypass would not be at the expense of other local projects, such as the Belmont Bridge. In other words, supporting supervisors see benefits in using the Bypass as a bargaining tool, as well as seeing inherent benefit in the road itself. A resolution in writing on these demands is yet to be obtained.
Amelie Bailey is the 2011 Field Officer Intern for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Map Image Credit: VDOT Photo Credit: Albemarle County