By. Neil Williamson, President
With less than 60 days of experience of reduced tuck speeds on Earlysville Road and ignoring an $7,900 study to the contrary, Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors again seems poised to close a portion of the road to trucks.
This clearly reminds me of Yogi Berra’s “Deja Vu all over again”
Please let me explain.
We wrote extensively about this issue the week of the March 2016 public hearing [Ignoring Earlysville Evidence]. Minutes prior to the required public hearing on this issue, Supervisor Brad Sheffield suggested the lower speed limit as a compromise and asked speakers to address this option.
Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs’ article on the Supervisors meeting clearly outlined the issues –
About 20 people spoke during a public hearing Wednesday, with the majority arguing against the ban on through trucks between Woodlands and Dickerson roads.“The reality is that Route 743 is a major north-south artery built with state and federal dollars,” said Blair Williamson, owner of the S.L. Williamson asphalt paving company.More than 120 people who live on the road had signed a petition asking the county to request permission from state officials to enact the ban. …As part of the staff analysis, the firm EPR was paid $7,900 to conduct a study of the road last spring.The review counted traffic and analyzed Virginia Department of Transportation crash data for a three-year period. The counts showed that vehicles with more than three axles ranged between 0.19 and 1.49 percent of daily traffic during the week and that trucks with two axles ranged between 12.72 percent and 16.81 percent.There were 60 vehicular wrecks between 2012 and 2015 but only one of these involved a truck. [Emphasis Added – NW]
At the end of the public hearing, after the board discussion made it clear the request for restriction did not have the support of the majority of the Board members, Supervisor Ann Mallek indicated that she preferred to defer the agenda item to see how the reduced speed concept worked and then they would not have to be bothered with another public hearing.
This was a rather shrewd political move — mollify the people who took time out to their evening to speak in opposition (or in support) then put it on an agenda in the early summer when folks are less likely to return to express their opinions. Why would they be less likely — because there is NOT a public hearing required prior to action.
Considering the incredible hoops that this community has been put through regarding a public process for transportation projects, I must say I am disappointed by this fast and loose (but legal) political maneuvering.
Based on the material available to the public there is not significantly new data coming before the board regarding the impact of the speed restrictions. It seems like the only thing that will be different on June 8th from March 8th is there will be no public hearing and likely not much public input.
Perhaps that was the idea all along.
Neil Williamson, President
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.