The Who Has the Answer to New US29 Panel

By. Neil Williamson, President

pete-towsend-2_thumb.jpgIn 1971, long before the US29 Bypass was proposed, Pete Townshend wrote and his band The Who recorded a song that aptly captures the political reality of today’s US 29 transportation projects.  Don’t Get Fooled Again

Please let me explain.

Yesterday, (6/18) the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) endorsed the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Six Year Improvement Plan that included the “Shucet Solution” Package to US29.

In remarks before the CTB, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe cited the work of the US29 Advisory panel and suggested the result was a compromise where no one was entirely happy.  He highlighted the group’s transparency and opportunity for public participation.

While the Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the successful political word smithing, the fact is the so called “advisory” panel never voted on anything. This was, as we called it months ago, a charade.

McAuliffe’s remarks also touted the soon to be enacted House Bill 2 that requires prioritization of transportation projects.   Later in the same speech, he expressed how pleased he was that the US29 projects were in the plan and how he decided that this issue needed to be resolved.  Only the most informed would understand that if the US29 projects were not in the plan (and acted on prior to July 1) they would have to go through the prioritization process and would likely not get fully funded.

The timing, delivery and positioning of the US29 projects was expertly handled.pete 3

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me

The Shucet Charade was in fact so successful that there is going to be a second act.  Yesterday, we learned that Shucet will be staying on as the lead consultant for the “Project Delivery Advisory Panel”.

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Yesterday was the first we had heard of the US29 PDAP (yet another unwieldy government acronym), and like when we heard of the “US29 Solutions Advisor Panel” we are encouraged but this time based on our experience with the other “advisory” panel our joy is mixed with more than a sprinkling of trepidation.

To be fair, Shucet and I had a most positive conversation prior to the last meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  He is a highly capable executive who has significant political skills to focus individuals and groups on the deliverables he has been charged to achieve.

Therefore, it is the charge of those on all sides of the US29 issue incumbent on the community to better define those deliverables and the level of public input.

Will the citizenry and elected officials be actively engaged in setting the membership and the success parameters for the US29 Project Delivery Advisory Panel?

Or will the process, membership and predetermined outcomes be again be dictated by forces outside of the community?pete_townshend

Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa  and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website

Photo Credits:

One response

  1. […] Free Enterprise Forum choses to think positively. While we remain concerned of falling into the “Don’t Get Fooled Again” trap, perhaps in the end the panel will find The Rolling Stones 1969 hit as their […]

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