By. Neil Williamson, President
The Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is discussing a conceptual plan to extend the US29 Western Bypass. This concept is being presented at their September 26th meeting and will be discussed as a part of the Long Rage Transportation Plan for the next couple of months. Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs has the story in this morning’s Daily Progress
The Free Enterprise Forum believes that this is a great topic for long term discussion but the project is both too long and too short.
The core benefits of this proposed extension are two fold. First it would provide improved access to one of our economic development assets the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) and it would ease congestion on North US29.
To accomplish the first benefit the road is too long. A singular project connecting the existing airport to the federally funded Western Bypass [with the ability to later be extended] would be significantly less expensive and, considering the economic development benefit, would be more likely to be competitive for the ever decreasing transportation funding dollars.
To accomplish the second task of truly easing traffic on US29, the proposed extension is too short. As any one who drives this stretch of US29 regularly knows, congestion starts north of the Greene County line. A wider lens is required to see the potential of a longer Western Bypass Extension that would rejoin US29 somewhere north and/or west of the US29/US33 intersection.
While the current MPO is limited by the geographic boundaries of Albemarle County’s growth area, it seems clear that in the next census, Greene County will be forced to join the MPO. Such an MPO Expansion will most likely take place long before the US29 Western Bypass Extension would be full funded. Prudent planning would suggest the MPO factor this reality into their planning.
The Free Enterprise Forum calls on the MPO in considering their long term transportation planning to consider the potentiality for both a shorter AND a longer US29 Western Bypass Extension.
Sometimes two projects are better than one.
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.