By. Neil Williamson, President
As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors. Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded. One question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week.
- Economic Development Monday
- Transportation Tuesday
- Development Area Expansion Wednesday
- Environmental Mandates Thursday
- Proffer Policy Friday
2. While a state function, transportation is an important part of locality infrastructure planning. What is your opinion of Albemarle’s transportation network? What is your position on the approved and funded US 29 Bypass? What is the next big step for transportation in Albemarle?
Samuel Miller District
Duane Snow: I am 100% in favor of the by-pass along with about 60% of the County. We’ve come a long way in the last four years in solving some of our infrastructure needs. There are four main projects that I would like to see moved forward as quickly as possible.
· Eastern by-pass and/or a parallel road and bridge into the city.
· Extend the by-pass north of Ruckersville.
· Build Berkmar Extension .
· Turn Rt. 29 through our business district into a Boulevard with bike lanes, cross walks, and other transportation options. The area should be landscaped with trees, shrubs and flowers. Route 29 is the economic engine for Albemarle County.
Liz Palmer: I think you’ve asked a good question, using the words “transportation network.” It is the network of interconnected streets which should allow drivers some options, especially to make it possible to move around, shop, get to soccer practice – whatever – without ending up driving an auto on a few major, over-utilized highways. We need more options, such as Berkmar and Hillsdale, and improved connections between them.
The presently approved bypass costs more than, and creates fewer options for local residents than, an interconnected network in the 29North corridor. So, as a fiscally prudent person, I prefer the less expensive and more effective options, roughly SELC’s Go29 plan. The options would also lend themselves more to the bike and bus routes that we increasingly need. We have other corridors that need attention and may demand their “turn” at getting projects, such as 29 South and Route 250, east and west, in addition to the bicycle access that I’d like to see penetrating the urban ring.
Jane Dittmar: In the Scottsville District, we have a corridor that would be ideal for public transportation. Also in the years to come, we may want to see public transportation from our “villages” and the Town of Scottsville to the urban ring during commuting hours. Regarding roads, the Scottsville District is experiencing road congestion during commuting times on both Rt. 250 and Rt. 20. This is causing frustration for those who must travel during these times. Already residents along these corridors are questioning whether further development without road improvements should be allowed.
I would like very much for improvements in our county’s road capacities to begin earlier in the planning cycle in the future. Regarding the US 29 Bypass, this is not an important agenda item for residents in my district, based on input from many neighbors I have reached out to over the last 10 weeks. However I know that relieving congestion on Rt. 29 is as important to other districts as relieving congestion on Rt. 20 and 250 is to Scottsville.
As you say, it is approved and funded and it is my understanding that supervisors are not involved in the final regulatory approval process currently underway.
address the accident rate on the County’s part of the 29 corridor. Furthermore, this transportation project includes other necessary work including: Extension of Hillsdale Drive, widening of 29 and the Best Buy Ramp. This bypass has been voted on and approved by the County Board, approved by VDOT and it would be a great disappointment to the majority of Albemarle residents if this road and the funding that goes with it would be unrealized.
I think the next big step for Albemarle transportation will be working on making some changes to 250 East on Pantops and 20 South towards Scottsville.
Rodney Thomas: Since Hillsdale, Best Buy ramp, and the widening of 29 are funded as part of the Western Bypass funding package. The next priority should be Berkmar Drive extended and improved transit to 29 north.
We also need to turn Rt. 29 into a boulevard to make pedestrian friendly crossings. Rt. 250 at Pantops could use some improvement as well. I support the Bypass.
Brad Sheffield: Albemarle County continues to make poor transportation decisions that lead to small and specific dysfunction. Unfortunately, those individual choices add up to a County-wide system that is incompatible with our growth and fails to meet the needs of the residents.
I believe that the US 29 Western Bypass is an antiquated plan. It exemplifies how the County needs to stop deliberating on important issues and make timely decisions. This project is based on obsolete data, old assumptions and it does not fit the community as it has grown since the initial Bypass decisions over 10 years ago. As a transportation professional, I am of the opinion that this road, as designed now, will add to our transportation system’s impaired functionality.
The next big step is to re-approach the formation of a Regional Transit Authority. Many of our transportation issues are related to the density created by the growth area. We need to provide better alternative forms of transportation to reduce the traffic impacts. This process needs to start with gathering better traffic data. We have at least one big project, the John Warner Parkway, that will make an impact on the traffic patterns. We need real data right now so we can measure the impact and be prepared to make some quick decisions in the next four years.
Jack Jouett District
Phillip Seay: A. We really do not have major traffic issues. We have become accustomed to getting to a location in a certain time and now that travel time depending on the day, time of day and scheduled events has somewhat increased. It does concern me that we continue to build in high density commercial areas knowing that traffic will increase. Additionally, the Bypass will take the truck and travel through traffic out of the equation. I would think with up to date traffic counts this number would show the benefit of the Bypass in alleviating this traffic on business 29.
B. Done deal thus far. Let’s work together to make this the best possible road by keeping communication lines open and being upfront in preparing residents and businesses before, during and after the known and unintended consequences of construction. Do it right the first time!
c. Berkmar Drive extended. Improvements with regards to safer bus services (location of stops, lighting, protection from weather) and providing the needs of pedestrians to better access homes and businesses.
Diantha McKeel: Our transportation network needs to be regional in nature and planning. I would like to see increased cooperation between the County, the City, and UVA. An example is the Adaptive Transportation System currently supported by both the City and County. I also support an improved system of walking trails, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements, seamlessly connecting the County and City. The current bus system (CATS) needs to be a more efficient operation and needs infrastructure improvements at stops and safer connections for citizens.
I am opposed to the proposed US 29 Bypass as it will not reduce our traffic congestion now or in the future. And, there are much less expensive projects that would more effectively move traffic though our community.
The funded projects I support: completion of the Meadowcreek Parkway; adding the lane to Rt. 29 South from Hydraulic Road to the 250 Bypass with an additional ramp at Best Buy and an extended taper lane; completion of the Hillsdale Connector.
Future projects I support would be the widening of Rt. 29 between Polo Grounds and Hollymead to eliminate the hourglass; the Berkmar Extended project. Eventually I believe our community will need the overpasses at the intersection at Hydraulic and possibly Rio. I also see reconfiguration of the dangerous exit ramp connection on Interstate 64 with the 250 Bypass as important future project.
Wednesday – Candidates answer Q3 – Development Area Expansion of the Free Enterprise Forum Five.
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
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