By Neil Williamson, President
In 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.
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.
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.