VDOT Study Indicates US29 Bypass Will Reduce Travel Time Up to 22 Minutes a Day

By Neil Williamson, President

us-29-logo_thumb.jpgIn responding to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by The Free Enterprise Forum, The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) released The US29 Travel Time Analysis with and without the Bypass in a study conducted by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The recently released documents show that future commuters using the proposed US29 Western Bypass will save up to 22:30 minutes each day (11:30 Southbound, 11:00 Northbound) by utilizing the bypass.  In addition, the modeling shows a daily reduction of nearly 10 minutes on the existing US29 & US29/250 corridor due to the Bypass.

US 29 Bypass Travel Time Savings Chart December 2013 big

The stated purpose of the analysis is to estimate the potential time savings that the proposed project would offer to drivers utilizing both the existing US29 and the proposed Bypass as compared with a No Build scenario and no major improvements to the existing US 29.

The Executive Summary indicates:

The travel time study was conducted utilizing VISSIM, a micro-simulation model that uses traffic volumes and proposed roadway layout to estimate delays and travel times. The study estimated travel times on US 29 and US 250 between Ashwood Boulevard on the north and Leonard Sandridge Road at the southern terminus of the proposed Bypass. A comparison of travel times for the year 2040 with and without the Bypass was developed.

The VISSIM travel time analysis estimated 2040 travel time savings of approximately between 7½ minutes to 11½ minutes for vehicles using the proposed Bypass depending upon the direction of travel and peak period. In addition, the construction of the proposed Bypass provides reduced travel time for vehicles that continue to use the existing US 29 ranging from 1 to 2 minutes in the non-peak direction to between 3½ and 7 minutes in the peak direction.

The Technical Documents of the analysis make the case that the increased traffic volumes within the existing US 29 Corridor will result in the duration of congestion on US 29 increasing in the future.

US 29 Bypass LOS Chart December 2013 big

This new information is helpful but it begs many questions:

  • How much is 22 minutes a day worth to our community?
  • How will commuters use this new time?  Family, increased productivity, relaxation?
  • If one could put a dollar value on time, how much is this time savings worth?
  • If a vehicle (especially a tractor trailer) is operated 22 minutes less each day, can one quantify the net environmental benefit (or harm)?

The full December 19, 2013 report (and related documents) can be found on the Free Enterprise Forum website under the reports tab.

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2 responses

  1. Any time one presents me with a model, my first response is to test it. According to the model being used, and the contractor’s assumptions, it fails. It does NOT take anywhere near the stated figures for existing conditions. I drive this route daily, year in and year out. Without exceeding the posted speed limits, running red lights, or swerving in and out of traffic, this is routinely an 8-9 minute trip, with 1-2 stops at a light. Bad weather, or an accident at a bottleneck, are the two x-factors, neither of which are eliminated by the so-called by-pass.

    Likewise, the 6:15 projected for the NoPass is absurd on its face. At what speed? And how, with at-grade signalized intersections? You would have to transit the distance at an average speed of 60 mph and navigate two interchanges without slowing down to achieve a 6:15 time. Do the math, Neil. Tight curves and steep grades — this data is far from credible.

    Last, it is moot whether and how much transit time increases on the existing 29 WITHOUT any improvements. Overpasses at Hydraulic and Rio as well as improvements such as the Best Buy project and widening of 29 North of Polo Grounds Road are cheaper, and improve the transit time for all traffic. Build existing 29 for its traffic load, we do not need a connector road between Forest Lakes South and North Grounds to appease folks from Lynchburg and Danville, too clueless to realize — or care — that the so-called “bypass” isn’t. Evidence? How about this: it now takes 3-5 minutes LESS time to transit 29 than it did 25 years ago, despite increases in traffic, development, and stoplights, and NO Bypass.

    One wonders what “goodies” found by TFEF in its FOIA requests have NOT been disclosed by Mr. Williamson. I am aware of a great deal of “data” which, taken out of context, and unstudied, harms Mr. Williamson’s arguments. Of course, he is not paid (or interested) to argue against his clients’ interests. Nevertheless, it is disingenuous (at best) to argue this single “data point” stands out among the rest to paint a truthful picture of the whole.

    My skepticism — always strong when presented with engineering data from a layman and a political hack — is that timing of this disclosure, hours before a public hearing on the toic, serves a political purpose only. Misinformation is a powerful tool in creating the “Big Lie”.

    1. Thank you for reviewing the data.

      Please note The Free Enterprise Forum has made ALL the VDOT documents in their entirety available online for your review . Our goal is to add hard data to the debate. Therefore, I take some umbrage to the assertion “One wonders what “goodies” found by TFEF in its FOIA requests have NOT been disclosed by Mr. Williamson. ”

      Please feel free to review the documents and question the data presented but know we wish to be transparent in this process. https://freeenterpriseforum.wordpress.com/reports/us-29-travel-time-analysis-with-and-without-the-proposed-us-29-bypass/

      Thank you for your participation in the community discussion

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