US29 Bypass Delays Increased Project Costs by $30.9 Million


Charlottesville, VA – An independent financial analysis, conducted by The Free Enterprise Forum, suggests the U.S. 29 Bypass would have cost more than 23% less had the project been completed when it was permitted twelve years ago when Federal Highway Administration approved and signed the Environmental Reevaluation on March 13, 2000.

Instead of moving forward with construction, legal challenges followed by political obstruction stopped this important improvement to a national highway. 

Utilizing data from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Free Enterprise Forum converted the US 29 bypass apparent low construction bid from 2012 dollars to 2001 dollars.  By reverse application of the Consumer Price Index, the Free Enterprise Forum determined the bid in 2001 would have been $30.99 Million dollars lower.

 2012 Bid                     $135,988,000

In 2001 Dollars    $104,988,910


                                       $ 30,999,890


Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said, “Our goal in researching this issue was to have an objective, independent analysis.  As the community has been engaged in this vibrant debate, costs have been increasing.  The community must recognize that these delays have financial impacts.  Quantifying the cost of delay is fundamental to understanding the impact of our action, or in this case, inaction to move forward with transportation solutions”.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded, public policy organization. 

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3 responses

  1. Dennis Rooker | Reply

    How was Neil Williamson able to have an “independent financial analysis” performed and a press release issued an hour after the bids? The “independent financial analysis” is nothing more than an inflation assumption (without support) and a computer calculation. The reason the bypass wasn’t built in 2001 and thereafter was that the State didn’t think the costs (more than $260 million when including right of way and other project costs already estimated by VDOT) were justified by the limited transportation benefits. This is the same reason that Taxpayers for Common Sense four times found this project to be one of the worst wastes of taxpayer funds among all projects nationwide. VDOT staff also told this to Secretary Connaughton, but it didn’t matter because the decision was made for political reasons. When campaigning, the Governor promised Lynchburg and Danville and his good friend Senator Steve Newman (Lynchburg) he would move forward with this if elected, and that’s what’s happening. Interesting how Neil was so interested in a cost/benefit analysis for the Places 29 transportation projects but has never mentioned that issue for the more than $260 million bypass which he continually champions.

  2. How can “fiscal conservatives” could be in favor of this ridiculously inefficient and expensive road? Obviously, our local “fiscal conservatives” in the Chamber of Commerce anticipate a personal profit in not losing a few of their car lots and gas stations to grade-separated interchanges in the business strip of 29. Other chamber members anticipate personal profits for increased development of their real estate along the 29 corridor. These local Chamber of Commerce profits are at state taxpayer and local quality of life expense! But hey, this is free enterprise at work!

    Blaming inflation for increased costs of construction estimate is completely bogus. Road construction costs are actually much LOWER because of the recession, because construction companies can pay unemployed construction workers lower wages.

    The reason the Route 29 “Bypass” bids are higher than budgeted, is because of the creative use of the “design-bid-build single process” method caused many cost uncertainties that bidders were forced to absorb. This process was chosen by politicians to rush the project forward, and sneak it into budget approval through a back door, all at greater expense to taxpayers.

    The politicians in Lynchburg and Richmond don’t care about taxpayers and the state budget, they will just find some more of OUR state tax money to pay for this road to reward their political buddies. The result will be a cheap, ugly, inefficient road with a very high taxpayer price tag, less money for legitimate road projects, faster development along the 29 corridor, and six very noisy local school playgrounds. That’s free enterprise!

  3. How was Neil Williamson able to have an “independent financial analysis” performed and a press release issued an hour after the bids? Barring an invitation by Free Enterprise Forum for you to offer the opposing partial insight, I’m supposing Mr. Rooker that as such your response was comparably as quick upon this blog. Funny thing how today’s press operates with all the cutting edgiest technologic advances, especially in the field of multi-communication.

    Just saying THE reason “the bypass wasn’t built in 2001 and thereafter…..” is a strawman and deflects what adjustments between the Governorships of Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner were necessitated, to reduce overall state expenditures. This same reason where you talk about what Taxpayers for Common Sense found four times, would it also happen to include vocal in-audience majorities at intermittent intrevals in favor of raising taxes, with tipped prioritized sentiments for other projects elsewhere? How odd and coincidential, the similarity and repeated refrain is still as was then, we don’t have enough to do it. What next out of your hat of tricks Mr. Rooker to impeded addressing and upgrading transportation needs? To stall through fulfilling severe stringent enviromental requirements and until the satiated placing of x-percentage in alternate transit modes? You want to set it all up to go down as you want, just as what you claim and bemoan as (that) being told Secretary Connaughton – “it didn’t matter because the decision was made for political reasons.”

    While we’re exchanging what-ifs and how abouts, you must’ve missed this forum’s editorial about Business 29.

    I counter and maintain should Places29 be followed through on, that much more than lane expanding the paltry Best Buy Ramp is going to be a pressing contention. Places29 or the defeat of the Western Bypass is a next dangerously close step, to an invitation for the correctiveness of an “when all else fails” Mixing Bowl. It is an unwelcome prospect that Albemarle’s surrounded next door neighbor does not relish to comtemplate. This, on the heels after going ahead with an area water plan that some city residents continue to denounce, doesn’t bode well as a future prognostication. Especially, when a geographical point within the city is pointed at as groundzero for the worst bottleneck – along its portion of US-29’s entire East Coast length. Oh but go ahead Mr. Rooker, proceed with decisions your and what other sides are making for political reasons.

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