Difference between revisions of "Western Bypass"

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| photo =20020219-SELC-bypass-map.jpg
 
| photo =20020219-SELC-bypass-map.jpg
 
| caption =
 
| caption =
| status ={{planned}}
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| status ={{canceled}}
 
<!--ABOVE USE:{{proposed}},{{planned}},{{underway}},{{complete}},or {{canceled}} -->
 
<!--ABOVE USE:{{proposed}},{{planned}},{{underway}},{{complete}},or {{canceled}} -->
| meeting = Board of Supervisors - July 13, 2011
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| meeting = None Planned
| location = Lane Auditorium
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| location =  
 
<!--ABOVE USE JURISDICTION: Albemarle, Charlottesville -->
 
<!--ABOVE USE JURISDICTION: Albemarle, Charlottesville -->
| cost =$270-$300 million
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| cost =$245 million
 
| sponsor =VDOT
 
| sponsor =VDOT
 
<!--ABOVE USE: Albemarle, Charlottesville, VDOT -->
 
<!--ABOVE USE: Albemarle, Charlottesville, VDOT -->
 
| purpose =To provide a bypass for [[Route 29]] through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also provides a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the North Grounds of the [[University of Virginia]].
 
| purpose =To provide a bypass for [[Route 29]] through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also provides a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the North Grounds of the [[University of Virginia]].
| status-desc = In June 2011 the [[Albemarle County Board of Supervisors]] changed its policy position to support the Western Bypass.<ref name="dorrier">{{cite web|title=|url=http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/06/western-bypass-revival.html|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=9 June 2011|accessdate=20 June 2011}}</ref>  The board was previously opposed to the bypass until other road projects were completed (see [[Three Party Agreement]]). {{as of|2011|06}}, the Western Bypass is scheduled for public hearings before the [[Metropolitan Planning Organization]] in July 2011. Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton has promised to find funding for the bypass, and the widening of U.S. Route 29 between Polo Grounds Road and Hollymead Town Center, if local opposition to the project is eliminated by the MPO.<ref name="ctb">{{cite web|title=No state funding for Western Bypass yet|url=http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/06/ctb-bypass.html|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=16 June 2011|accessdate=20 June 2011}}</ref><br><br>The current official position of VDOT is that some land for right of way has been acquired, but construction is not planned by the [[Commonwealth Transportation Board]] and no funding is provided for construction.<ref name="ctb" /> The project remains on the VDOT 2025 State Highway Plan as an unprioritized "recommended new roadway". Funding is requested for planning and purchase of Right of Way, but not construction per the FY2009 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).
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| status-desc = Project highly unlikely to proceed as planned
| website =
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| website = http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/rt._29_bypass.asp
 
| vdot-dashboard =[http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/Pages/Projects/EngineeringDetailStudies.aspx?prj_nbr=16160 VDOT Dashboard Entry]
 
| vdot-dashboard =[http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/Pages/Projects/EngineeringDetailStudies.aspx?prj_nbr=16160 VDOT Dashboard Entry]
 
| contact =[[Lou Hatter]], Public Affairs Manager, Culpeper District, VDOT  
 
| contact =[[Lou Hatter]], Public Affairs Manager, Culpeper District, VDOT  
}}The '''Western Bypass''' is a plan for a limited-access road bypassing commercial areas of [[U.S. Route 29]] to the west of [[Charlottesville]].
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}}The '''Western Bypass''' is a defunct plan for a limited-access road bypassing commercial areas of [[U.S. Route 29]] to the west of [[Charlottesville]].  
  
==Route==
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A Federal Highway Administration official signaled in February 2014 that the agency was unlikely to grant an environmental clearance and suggested VDOT find alternatives. <ref name="fhwa">{{cite web|title=Western Bypass called into question by Federal Highways|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/17307-federal-bypass-scrutiny/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=February 19, 2014|accessdate=April 28, 2014}}</ref> <ref name="collab">{{cite web|title=VDOT working closely with federal agency on bypass review|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/13852-bypass-ea-collaboration/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=January 13, 2013|accessdate=January 14, 2013}}</ref>
The Western Bypass is a long-proposed 6.2-mile road to provide a limited access bypass of the commercial area on Route 29. The stated purpose of the project is to provide a bypass for Route 29 through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also provides a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the North Grounds of the University of Virginia.
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 +
The project has been replaced with the [[Route 29 Solutions]].
 +
 
 +
==Selection of a Route==
 +
In November 1990, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the general alignment for the project known as the Western Bypass. However, the northern terminus was moved northward several years later after a series of lawsuits. The project that was dormant, resurrected, and then made dormant again would run 6.2 miles extending north from [[Leonard Sandridge Road]] through Albemarle County's urban ring. The stated purpose of the project is to provide a bypass for Route 29 through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also would have provided a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the [[North Grounds]] of the [[University of Virginia]].  
  
 
==Costs and funding==
 
==Costs and funding==
There is no current cost estimate, but members of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors put the estimated price tag at about $270 million. In 2011, Commonwealth Transportation Board member James Rich said he estimated the Western Bypass would cost between $250 million and $300 million.<ref name="ctb" />  In 2005, the [[Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce]] estimated the price at $271-280 million.  VDOT provided the [[Albemarle County Board of Supervisors]] an official estimate of $166 million on March 1, 2006, but in doing so acknowledged the cost model on this project may not be comprehensive.
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A cost estimate produced on July 21, 2011 puts the total cost estimate for the road at $235 million. <ref>{{cite web|title=VDOT Dashboard|url=http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/Pages/Projects/EngineeringDetailStudies.aspx?prj_nbr=16160|author=|work=|publisher=Virginia Department of Transportation|location=|publishdate=Virginia Department of Transportation|accessdate=August 18, 2011}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
In 2011, Commonwealth Transportation Board member James Rich said he estimated the Western Bypass would cost between $250 million and $300 million. <ref name="ctb" />  In 2005, the [[Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce]] estimated the price at $271-280 million.  VDOT provided the [[Albemarle County Board of Supervisors]] an official estimate of $166 million on March 1, 2006, but in doing so acknowledged the cost model on this project may not be comprehensive.
 +
 
 +
Funding from the projection was removed by the CTB on June 18, 2014 except for $58 million, representing the state's investment in the project both in terms of property ownership and preliminary engineering. <ref name="done" />
 +
 
 +
==Organized opposition==
 +
Several organizations have emerged in opposition to the proposed bypass, including the [[Southern Environmental Law Center]] and the [[Piedmont Environmental Council]]. Groups that oppose the plan argue that the bypass will negatively impact the landscape of the area and will accomplish little to alleviate traffic on 29.<ref>{{cite web|title=Bypass plans raise questions|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/12286-bypass-questions/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=Charlottesville, VA|publishdate=July 3, 2012|accessdate=July 18, 2012}}</ref> In July 2012, the SELC, in collaboration with the [[Piedmont Environmental Council]], released a plan presenting alternatives to the 6.2 mile bypass that included [[Berkmar Drive Extended]] and the so-called [[Best Buy Ramp]].<ref>{{cite web|title=Bypass opponents launch campaign to promote alternatives|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/12322-bypass-opponents-launch-campaign-to-promote-altern/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=Charlottesville, VA|publishdate=July 12, 2012|accessdate=July 18, 2012}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
==Dormancy, Resurrection, Dormancy==
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 +
The project came back to life in the summer of 2011. A company was hired to design and build the road, but the project's future is unlikely when the FHWA questioned the project's purpose and need.
 +
 
 +
===Overturning MPO opposition===
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In July 1996, the [[MPO Policy Board]] passed a resolution barring VDOT from allocating any money towards construction of the project. In November 2002, the MPO adopted a [[Transportation Improvement Plan]] that stated “the project as designed does not meet community or regional needs, and has been determined too costly for the transportation benefits to be gained.”<ref name="thomas-MPO">{{cite web|title=Supervisor Thomas calls for MPO to change western bypass policy|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/6210-mpo-bypass-policy/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=May 26, 2011|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref> The Board of Supervisors voted on June 8, 2011 to direct their representatives on the MPO to vote to remove that language. <ref name="dorrier-switch">{{cite web|title=Dorrier makes late-night switch to revive Western Bypass|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/6192-western-bypass-revival/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=June 9, 2011|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
=== Resurrection ===
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Many people in the community thought the project was out of consideration until Albemarle County Supervisor [[Rodney Thomas]] indicated in May 2011 he wanted the MPO to drop its opposition to the allocation of construction funding.<ref name="thomas-MPO" /> Around $36 million has been used for the purchase of right-of-way along the route. The project had been on VDOT's six-year improvement program for many years, but there has been no additional funding allocated to the project since 2002, except for maintenance of rental properties VDOT manages.  
  
==MPO opposition==
+
In June 2011 the [[Albemarle County Board of Supervisors]] changed its policy position to support the Western Bypass.<ref name="dorrier-switch" /> The board was previously opposed to the bypass until other road projects were completed (see [[Three Party Agreement]]). {{as of|2011|06}}, the Western Bypass is scheduled for public hearings before the [[Metropolitan Planning Organization]] in July 2011. Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton has promised to find funding for the bypass, and the widening of U.S. Route 29 between Polo Grounds Road and Hollymead Town Center, if local opposition to the project is eliminated by the MPO.<ref name="ctb">{{cite web|title=No state funding for Western Bypass yet|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/6185-ctb-bypass/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=16 June 2011|accessdate=20 June 2011}}</ref><br>
In July 1996, the [[MPO Policy Board]] passed a resolution barring VDOT from allocating any money towards construction of the project. In November 2002, the MPO adopted a transportation improvement plan that stated “the project as designed does not meet community or regional needs, and has been determined too costly for the transportation benefits to be gained.<ref name="thomas-MPO">{{cite web|title=Supervisor Thomas calls for MPO to change western bypass policy|url=http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/05/mpo-bypass-policy.html|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=May 26, 2011|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref> The Board of Supervisors voted on June 8, 2011 to direct their representatives on the MPO to vote to remove that language. <ref name="dorrier-switch">{{cite web|title=Dorrier makes late-night switch to revive Western Bypass|url=http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/06/western-bypass-revival.html|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=June 9, 2011|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref>
 
  
== Status ==
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That changed when the CTB allocated $197 million in funding to the project at their meeting on July 20, 2011. <ref>{{cite web|title=Uncertainty remains over public process for bypass action|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/6181-bypass-public-hearings-1/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=June 21, 2011|accessdate=June 6, 2011}}</ref> On June 24, 2011, VDOT Commissioner Gregory A. Whirley sent a letter to MPO Director Steve Williams formally requesting the MPO amend its [[UNJAM 2035|constrained long-range transportation plan]] to include the bypass. While the letter states that there is a 'reasonable assurance' of funding, the MPO will not be given details of how the project will be funded until after the July meeting. <ref>{{cite web|title=Reasonable Assurance of Funding for Key Albemarle County Transportation Projects|url=http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20110624-VDOT-Letter-to-MPO.pdf|author=Gregory A. Whirley, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation|work=|publisher=Virginia Department of Transportation|location=|publishdate=June 24, 2011|accessdate=June 27, 2011}}</ref>
{{current}}
 
Many people in the community thought the project was out of consideration until Albemarle County Supervisor [[Rodney Thomas]] indicated he wanted the MPO to drop its opposition to the allocation of construction funding.<ref name="thomas-MPO" /> Around $36 million has been used for the purchase of right-of-way along the route. The project has been on VDOT's six-year improvement program for many years, but there has been no additional funding allocated to the project since 2002, except for maintenance of rental properties VDOT manages.
 
  
The CTB will be asked to allocate construction funding to the project at their meeting on July 20, 2011. <ref>{{cite web|title=Uncertainty remains over public process for bypass action|url=http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2011/06/bypass-public-hearings-1.html|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=June 21, 2011|accessdate=June 6, 2011}}</ref> On June 24, 2011, VDOT Commissioner Gregory A. Whirley sent a letter to MPO Director Steve Williams formally requesting the MPO amend its [[UNJAM 2035|constrained long-range transportation plan]] to include the bypass. While the letter states that there is a 'reasonable assurance' of funding, the MPO will not be given details of how the project will be funded until after the July meeting. <ref>{{cite web|title=Reasonable Assurance of Funding for Key Albemarle County Transportation Projects|url=http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20110624-VDOT-Letter-to-MPO.pdf|author=Gregory A. Whirley, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation|work=|publisher=Virginia Department of Transportation|location=|publishdate=June 24, 2011|accessdate=June 27, 2011}}</ref>
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Officials in both Lynchburg and Danville have historically demanded the bypass be constructed. <ref>{{cite web|title=Charlottesville bypass again being sought|url=http://www2.godanriver.com/news/2010/dec/27/charlottesville-bypass-again-being-sought-ar-739188/|author=Denice Thibodeau|work=|publisher=Danville Register & Bee|location=|publishdate=December 27, 2010|accessdate=December 28, 2010}}</ref> Shannon
 +
Valentine, Lynchburg's representative on the CTB, said she was disappointed that the bypass would be built and said she still wanted a long-term solution. <ref name="done" />
  
Officials in both Lynchburg and Danville are demanding that a bypass be planned and constructed<ref>{{cite web|title=Charlottesville bypass again being sought|url=http://www2.godanriver.com/news/2010/dec/27/charlottesville-bypass-again-being-sought-ar-739188/|author=Denice Thibodeau|work=|publisher=Danville Register & Bee|location=|publishdate=December 27, 2010|accessdate=December 28, 2010}}</ref>.
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===RFP===
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On September 27, 2011, VDOT issued a request for proposals to design and build the highway. <ref>{{cite web|title=VDOT ISSUES REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR RT. 29 BYPASS|url=http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/statewide/2011/vdot_issues_request_for54540.asp|author=Shannon Marshall|work=|publisher=Virginia Department of Transportation|location=Richmond, Virginia|publishdate=September 27, 2011|accessdate=October 26, 2011}}</ref>
  
==Future of right of way?==
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Ten construction firms answered the RFP with Submittals of Qualifications and nine of those qualified and moved on to the second stage, in which they will submit proposals by April 17, 2012<ref>{{cite web|title=9 Firms qualified for Charlottesville Bypass RFP|url=http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/culpeper/2011/9_firms_qualified_for55531.asp|author=Tamara Rollison|work=|publisher=Virginia Department of Transportation|location=Richmond, VA|publishdate=December 16, 2011|accessdate=December 21, 2011}}</ref>.
The first parcels of land were purchased in 1991. State code requires property acquired by VDOT to be offered back to the original owner twenty-years after purchase if the project is not active.<ref>{{cite web|title=Virginia Code Section 33. 1-90|url=http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+33.1-90|author=|work=|publisher=Commonwealth of Virginia|location=|publishdate=|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref> The code has several exceptions, including the allowance of an extension if the project has been in litigation.  
 
  
In 2007, State Senator Steve Newman of Lynchburg requested an opinion from then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell about whether the [[Metropolitan Planning Organization|Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization]] would be required to pay back the money expended so far on the project if the MPO removed the project from its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan.<ref>McDonnell, Robert. "AG Op. HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD, 2007 Va. AG 102 (07-069) HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD — ALLOCATION OF HIGHWAY FUNDS — MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS." Web. 23 Aug. 2010. <http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/docs/20071004-AG-opinion-on-bypass.pdf>.</ref><ref>{{cite web|title=Opinions of the Attorney General and report to the Governor of Virginia 2007|url=http://www.vaag.com/Opinions%20and%20Legal%20Resources/Annual_Reports/2007%20Annual%20Report_secured.pdf|author=|work=|publisher=Attorneyy General, Commonwealth of Virginia|location=|publishdate=|accessdate=12 July 2011}}</ref>  McDonnell's office concluded that in this situation, if the Federal Highway Administration requested reimbursement, VDOT would be required to reimburse the federal government. Additionally, VDOT would deduct all state funds spend so far on the project from the highway construction funds allocated to the Culpeper District of VDOT where the Western Bypass would be located.
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====Bidding firms====
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*American Infrastructure / Kimley-Horn; Glen Allen, Va.
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*CH2MHILL; Richmond, Va.
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*Charlottesville Bypass Constructors (Shirley-English) / Dewberry; Lorton, Va.
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*CK Constructors (Corman-Kiewit) / Jansen and Spaans; Annapolis Junction, Md.
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*Granite-Wagman / Gannett Fleming; Tarrytown, N.Y.
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*Lane / RK&K; Chantilly, Va.
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*Skanska-Branch / JMT; Virginia Beach, Va.
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*United Infrastructure / T.Y. Lin; North Charleston, S.C.
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*Zachry / TranSystems; San Antonio, Texas
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 +
===Contract===
 +
In June of 2012 the [[Commonwealth Transportation Board]] awarded the $135 million contract to Virginia Beach-based Skanska Branch Highways team. The contract was awarded over objections raised by [[VDOT's Culpeper District]] representative, [[James Rich]], who argued in favor of the [[Places29 Master Plan]] as a more cost-effective alternative.<ref name="award">{{cite web|title=Western Bypass contract awarded|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/2428-western_bypass/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=Charlottesville, VA|publishdate=June 20, 2012|accessdate=June 25, 2012}}</ref>
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 +
===Post 2013 election===
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In the [[2013 election]], several opponents of the bypass won election to the [[Albemarle County Board of Supervisors]]. [[Liz Palmer]] defeated [[Duane Snow]] and [[Brad Sheffield]] defeated [[Rodney Thomas]]. This means that the county suddenly had two new representatives on the MPO who did not support the bypass. <ref>{{cite-progress|title=New Western Bypass battle brewing|url=http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/new-western-bypass-battle-brewing/article_e28e590c-4f27-11e3-8ddd-0019bb30f31a.html|author=J. Reynolds Hutchins|pageno=|printdate=November 17, 2013|publishdate=November 16, 2013|accessdate=November 18, 2013|cturl=}}</ref>
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==Opposition==
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The project was opposed by groups such as the [[Charlottesville Albemarle Transportation Coalition]], the  [[Piedmont Environmental Council]] and the [[Southern Environmental Law Center]]. Local elected officials also opposed it, and blocked construction funding from being allocated to the project.
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 +
As such, construction money could not be allocated until the VDOT completes work associated with the National Environmental Policy Act, but the FHWA letter means that work will likely not go forward.
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==End of the road==
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[[Aubrey Layne]], Virginia's Secretary of Transportation, convened a [[Route 29 Advisory Panel|panel]] in the spring of 2014 to suggest alternatives for money that had been allocated by the [[Commonwealth Transportation Board]].
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 +
With the project presumed dead, former VDOT commissioner [[Philip Shucet]] has recommended alternate uses for at least $200 million that had been allocated to the bypass. The alternatives include $54 million to extend [[Berkmar Drive Extended|Berkmar Drive]] across the [[South Fork Rivanna River]], an additional $10 million to further extend [[Hillsdale Drive Extended]] to Holiday Lane in Charlottesville, and $81 million to build a [[Grade separated interchange at Rio Road and US29|grade-separated intersection at Rio Road and U.S. 29]]. The Commonwealth Transportation Board adopted a new six-year improvement program that included the projects at its meeting on June 18, 2014. <ref>{{cite web|title=Recommendations unveiled for U.S. 29 congestion relief|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/18056-29-panel-recommendation/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=May 8, 2014|accessdate=May 19, 2014}}</ref> That meant the Western Bypass project was defunded. <ref name="done">{{cite web|title=Western Bypass funding eliminated; CTB supports other U.S. 29 projects|url=http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/18369-bypass-funding-eliminated/|author=Sean Tubbs|work=|publisher=Charlottesville Tomorrow|location=|publishdate=June 18, 2014|accessdate=June 19, 2014}}</ref>
 +
 
 +
===Future of right of way?===
 +
Much of the right of way remains the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but is in the process of being sold. <ref name="done" />
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 +
Part of the reason for the speedy resurrection was the fate of land purchased for the project. The first parcels were purchased in 1991. State code requires property acquired by VDOT to be offered back to the original owner twenty-years after purchase if the project is not active.<ref>{{cite web|title=Virginia Code Section 33. 1-90|url=http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+33.1-90|author=|work=|publisher=Commonwealth of Virginia|location=|publishdate=|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref>  The code has several exceptions, including the allowance of an extension if the project has been in litigation.
 +
 
 +
In 2007, State Senator Steve Newman of Lynchburg requested an opinion from then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell about whether the [[Metropolitan Planning Organization|Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization]] would be required to pay back the money expended so far on the project if the MPO removed the project from its Transportation Improvement Plan. <ref>McDonnell, Robert. "AG Op. HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD, 2007 Va. AG 102 (07-069) HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD — ALLOCATION OF HIGHWAY FUNDS — MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS." Web. 23 Aug. 2010. <http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/docs/20071004-AG-opinion-on-bypass.pdf>.</ref><ref>{{cite web|title=Opinions of the Attorney General and report to the Governor of Virginia 2007|url=http://www.vaag.com/Opinions%20and%20Legal%20Resources/Annual_Reports/2007%20Annual%20Report_secured.pdf|author=|work=|publisher=Attorneyy General, Commonwealth of Virginia|location=|publishdate=|accessdate=12 July 2011}}</ref>  McDonnell's office concluded that in this situation, if the Federal Highway Administration requested reimbursement, VDOT would be required to reimburse the federal government. Additionally, VDOT would deduct all state funds spend so far on the project from the highway construction funds allocated to the Culpeper District of VDOT where the Western Bypass would be located.
  
 
Following McDonnell's October 2007 determination, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer [http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20071221-29Bypass-Homer-ROW.pdf wrote a letter dated December 21, 2007] to CTB member [[John Davies]] regarding the status of Western Bypass right of way and federal funding invested in the project. The major conclusion is: "If decisions are made not to build, any available revenues after covering expenditures on the projects should be available to use toward other projects in the Culpeper District." This letter is cited by bypass opponents as evidence that even after 20 years, the ROW investment will not be lost back to the federal government.
 
Following McDonnell's October 2007 determination, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer [http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20071221-29Bypass-Homer-ROW.pdf wrote a letter dated December 21, 2007] to CTB member [[John Davies]] regarding the status of Western Bypass right of way and federal funding invested in the project. The major conclusion is: "If decisions are made not to build, any available revenues after covering expenditures on the projects should be available to use toward other projects in the Culpeper District." This letter is cited by bypass opponents as evidence that even after 20 years, the ROW investment will not be lost back to the federal government.
  
==Dennis Rooker's disclosure ==
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However, Connaughton said he believed in McDonnell's interpretation of federal law and cited the possibility of being forced to sell the right of way as one reason to proceed.
On June 16, 2002, Rooker filed a transactional disclosure statement with the county attorney's office explaining his potential conflict of interest involving the proposed [[Western Bypass]] of U.S. 29. Rooker and his wife owns 7.1% of Roslyn Ridge LC, which owns a portion of land adjacent to the bypass. The document contains a statement that Rooker is "able to participate" in votes related to the bypass because many other parties have an interest in the outcome of the case as well. <ref name="disclosure">{{cite web|title=Transactional Disclosure Statement|url=http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20020616-Rooker-Bypass-Disclosure.pdf|author=|work=|publisher=Albemarle County|location=Albemarle County|publishdate=June 16, 2002|accessdate=June 22, 2011}}</ref>
 
 
 
  
 
==Maps & Plans==
 
==Maps & Plans==
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==Correspondence==
 
==Correspondence==
'''Studies related to the Western Bypass available on cvillepedia'''
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'''Correspondence related to the Western Bypass available on cvillepedia'''
 
<dynamicpagelist>
 
<dynamicpagelist>
 
category = Western Bypass correspondence
 
category = Western Bypass correspondence
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count = 50
 
count = 50
 
</dynamicpagelist>
 
</dynamicpagelist>
 
 
==Timeline==
 
 
'''View an interactive timeline of events related to the Western Bypass:'''
 
 
{{#widget:Iframe
 
|url=http://www.dipity.com/cvilletomorrow/Western-Bypass/?mode=embed&#t
 
|width=600
 
|height=400
 
|border=1
 
}}
 
  
 
==External Links==
 
==External Links==
 +
*[http://syip.virginiadot.org/Pages/lineitemDetails.aspx?syp_scenario_id=193&line_item_id=27200 Entry on VDOT's Six Year Improvement Program]
 
*[http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20010924-SELC-BypassFactsheet.pdf 2001 Factsheet by Southern Environmental Law Center] showing map and visualization of southern terminus
 
*[http://www.cvillepedia.org/mediawiki/index.php/File:20010924-SELC-BypassFactsheet.pdf 2001 Factsheet by Southern Environmental Law Center] showing map and visualization of southern terminus
 
*{{cite web|url=http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,478,709,44,html/Rt-29-Bypass-amp-the-CATCO-Green-Book|title= Rt.29 Bypass & the CATCO Green Book|work=CATCO Green Book|author=CATCO|accessdate=2010 Jan 12}}
 
*{{cite web|url=http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,478,709,44,html/Rt-29-Bypass-amp-the-CATCO-Green-Book|title= Rt.29 Bypass & the CATCO Green Book|work=CATCO Green Book|author=CATCO|accessdate=2010 Jan 12}}
 
*{{cite web|url=http://www.roadstothefuture.com/US29_Charlottesville_Bypass.html|title= Roads to the Future|work=Roads to the Future|author=Scott M. Kozel|accessdate=2009 Oct 2}}
 
*{{cite web|url=http://www.roadstothefuture.com/US29_Charlottesville_Bypass.html|title= Roads to the Future|work=Roads to the Future|author=Scott M. Kozel|accessdate=2009 Oct 2}}
 +
* [http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AtHop4RByD7ZdGdwR01BV0dZVmR0ZVY2cGdTcG9vMVE Interactive timeline] by Charlottesville Tomorrow using [http://timeline.verite.co/ Timeline JS].
 +
* [http://www.southernenvironment.org/lets_go_29 Let's GO 29] by the SELC and PEC
  
 
[[Category: Transportation Matrix]]
 
 
[[Category: Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) items]]
 
[[Category: Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) items]]

Latest revision as of 07:01, 2 April 2015


20020219-SELC-bypass-map.jpg

Project CANCELED

Project Overview

To provide a bypass for Route 29 through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also provides a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the North Grounds of the University of Virginia.
Cost $245 million
Sponsor VDOT
Next meeting None Planned

Status Update

Project highly unlikely to proceed as planned

Website http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/rt._29_bypass.asp
VDOT Dashboard VDOT Dashboard Entry
Contact Lou Hatter, Public Affairs Manager, Culpeper District, VDOT

The Western Bypass is a defunct plan for a limited-access road bypassing commercial areas of U.S. Route 29 to the west of Charlottesville.

A Federal Highway Administration official signaled in February 2014 that the agency was unlikely to grant an environmental clearance and suggested VDOT find alternatives. [1] [2]

The project has been replaced with the Route 29 Solutions.

Selection of a Route

In November 1990, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the general alignment for the project known as the Western Bypass. However, the northern terminus was moved northward several years later after a series of lawsuits. The project that was dormant, resurrected, and then made dormant again would run 6.2 miles extending north from Leonard Sandridge Road through Albemarle County's urban ring. The stated purpose of the project is to provide a bypass for Route 29 through traffic around the Charlottesville metropolitan area. The bypass also would have provided a direct connection from U.S. 29 north to the North Grounds of the University of Virginia.

Costs and funding

A cost estimate produced on July 21, 2011 puts the total cost estimate for the road at $235 million. [3]

In 2011, Commonwealth Transportation Board member James Rich said he estimated the Western Bypass would cost between $250 million and $300 million. [4] In 2005, the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce estimated the price at $271-280 million. VDOT provided the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors an official estimate of $166 million on March 1, 2006, but in doing so acknowledged the cost model on this project may not be comprehensive.

Funding from the projection was removed by the CTB on June 18, 2014 except for $58 million, representing the state's investment in the project both in terms of property ownership and preliminary engineering. [5]

Organized opposition

Several organizations have emerged in opposition to the proposed bypass, including the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Piedmont Environmental Council. Groups that oppose the plan argue that the bypass will negatively impact the landscape of the area and will accomplish little to alleviate traffic on 29.[6] In July 2012, the SELC, in collaboration with the Piedmont Environmental Council, released a plan presenting alternatives to the 6.2 mile bypass that included Berkmar Drive Extended and the so-called Best Buy Ramp.[7]


Dormancy, Resurrection, Dormancy

The project came back to life in the summer of 2011. A company was hired to design and build the road, but the project's future is unlikely when the FHWA questioned the project's purpose and need.

Overturning MPO opposition

In July 1996, the MPO Policy Board passed a resolution barring VDOT from allocating any money towards construction of the project. In November 2002, the MPO adopted a Transportation Improvement Plan that stated “the project as designed does not meet community or regional needs, and has been determined too costly for the transportation benefits to be gained.”[8] The Board of Supervisors voted on June 8, 2011 to direct their representatives on the MPO to vote to remove that language. [9]

Resurrection

Many people in the community thought the project was out of consideration until Albemarle County Supervisor Rodney Thomas indicated in May 2011 he wanted the MPO to drop its opposition to the allocation of construction funding.[8] Around $36 million has been used for the purchase of right-of-way along the route. The project had been on VDOT's six-year improvement program for many years, but there has been no additional funding allocated to the project since 2002, except for maintenance of rental properties VDOT manages.

In June 2011 the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors changed its policy position to support the Western Bypass.[9] The board was previously opposed to the bypass until other road projects were completed (see Three Party Agreement). As of June 2011, the Western Bypass is scheduled for public hearings before the Metropolitan Planning Organization in July 2011. Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton has promised to find funding for the bypass, and the widening of U.S. Route 29 between Polo Grounds Road and Hollymead Town Center, if local opposition to the project is eliminated by the MPO.[4]

That changed when the CTB allocated $197 million in funding to the project at their meeting on July 20, 2011. [10] On June 24, 2011, VDOT Commissioner Gregory A. Whirley sent a letter to MPO Director Steve Williams formally requesting the MPO amend its constrained long-range transportation plan to include the bypass. While the letter states that there is a 'reasonable assurance' of funding, the MPO will not be given details of how the project will be funded until after the July meeting. [11]

Officials in both Lynchburg and Danville have historically demanded the bypass be constructed. [12] Shannon Valentine, Lynchburg's representative on the CTB, said she was disappointed that the bypass would be built and said she still wanted a long-term solution. [5]

RFP

On September 27, 2011, VDOT issued a request for proposals to design and build the highway. [13]

Ten construction firms answered the RFP with Submittals of Qualifications and nine of those qualified and moved on to the second stage, in which they will submit proposals by April 17, 2012[14].

Bidding firms

  • American Infrastructure / Kimley-Horn; Glen Allen, Va.
  • CH2MHILL; Richmond, Va.
  • Charlottesville Bypass Constructors (Shirley-English) / Dewberry; Lorton, Va.
  • CK Constructors (Corman-Kiewit) / Jansen and Spaans; Annapolis Junction, Md.
  • Granite-Wagman / Gannett Fleming; Tarrytown, N.Y.
  • Lane / RK&K; Chantilly, Va.
  • Skanska-Branch / JMT; Virginia Beach, Va.
  • United Infrastructure / T.Y. Lin; North Charleston, S.C.
  • Zachry / TranSystems; San Antonio, Texas

Contract

In June of 2012 the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded the $135 million contract to Virginia Beach-based Skanska Branch Highways team. The contract was awarded over objections raised by VDOT's Culpeper District representative, James Rich, who argued in favor of the Places29 Master Plan as a more cost-effective alternative.[15]

Post 2013 election

In the 2013 election, several opponents of the bypass won election to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Liz Palmer defeated Duane Snow and Brad Sheffield defeated Rodney Thomas. This means that the county suddenly had two new representatives on the MPO who did not support the bypass. [16]

Opposition

The project was opposed by groups such as the Charlottesville Albemarle Transportation Coalition, the Piedmont Environmental Council and the Southern Environmental Law Center. Local elected officials also opposed it, and blocked construction funding from being allocated to the project.

As such, construction money could not be allocated until the VDOT completes work associated with the National Environmental Policy Act, but the FHWA letter means that work will likely not go forward.

End of the road

Aubrey Layne, Virginia's Secretary of Transportation, convened a panel in the spring of 2014 to suggest alternatives for money that had been allocated by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

With the project presumed dead, former VDOT commissioner Philip Shucet has recommended alternate uses for at least $200 million that had been allocated to the bypass. The alternatives include $54 million to extend Berkmar Drive across the South Fork Rivanna River, an additional $10 million to further extend Hillsdale Drive Extended to Holiday Lane in Charlottesville, and $81 million to build a grade-separated intersection at Rio Road and U.S. 29. The Commonwealth Transportation Board adopted a new six-year improvement program that included the projects at its meeting on June 18, 2014. [17] That meant the Western Bypass project was defunded. [5]

Future of right of way?

Much of the right of way remains the property of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but is in the process of being sold. [5]

Part of the reason for the speedy resurrection was the fate of land purchased for the project. The first parcels were purchased in 1991. State code requires property acquired by VDOT to be offered back to the original owner twenty-years after purchase if the project is not active.[18] The code has several exceptions, including the allowance of an extension if the project has been in litigation.

In 2007, State Senator Steve Newman of Lynchburg requested an opinion from then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell about whether the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization would be required to pay back the money expended so far on the project if the MPO removed the project from its Transportation Improvement Plan. [19][20] McDonnell's office concluded that in this situation, if the Federal Highway Administration requested reimbursement, VDOT would be required to reimburse the federal government. Additionally, VDOT would deduct all state funds spend so far on the project from the highway construction funds allocated to the Culpeper District of VDOT where the Western Bypass would be located.

Following McDonnell's October 2007 determination, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer wrote a letter dated December 21, 2007 to CTB member John Davies regarding the status of Western Bypass right of way and federal funding invested in the project. The major conclusion is: "If decisions are made not to build, any available revenues after covering expenditures on the projects should be available to use toward other projects in the Culpeper District." This letter is cited by bypass opponents as evidence that even after 20 years, the ROW investment will not be lost back to the federal government.

However, Connaughton said he believed in McDonnell's interpretation of federal law and cited the possibility of being forced to sell the right of way as one reason to proceed.

Maps & Plans

VDOT's August 1999 "roll plan" of U.S. 29 Western Bypass preliminary design -> View FULL SIZE PDF

VDOT's July 23, 1997 preliminary engineering plans for U.S. 29 Western Bypass

Locator Map


References

  1. Web. Western Bypass called into question by Federal Highways, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, February 19, 2014, retrieved April 28, 2014.
  2. Web. VDOT working closely with federal agency on bypass review, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, January 13, 2013, retrieved January 14, 2013.
  3. Web. VDOT Dashboard, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, retrieved August 18, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Web. No state funding for Western Bypass yet, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 16 June 2011, retrieved 20 June 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Web. Western Bypass funding eliminated; CTB supports other U.S. 29 projects, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 18, 2014, retrieved June 19, 2014.
  6. Web. Bypass plans raise questions, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, VA, July 3, 2012, retrieved July 18, 2012.
  7. Web. Bypass opponents launch campaign to promote alternatives, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, VA, July 12, 2012, retrieved July 18, 2012.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Web. Supervisor Thomas calls for MPO to change western bypass policy, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, May 26, 2011, retrieved June 22, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Web. Dorrier makes late-night switch to revive Western Bypass, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 9, 2011, retrieved June 22, 2011.
  10. Web. Uncertainty remains over public process for bypass action, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 21, 2011, retrieved June 6, 2011.
  11. Web. Reasonable Assurance of Funding for Key Albemarle County Transportation Projects, Gregory A. Whirley, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, June 24, 2011, retrieved June 27, 2011.
  12. Web. Charlottesville bypass again being sought, Denice Thibodeau, Danville Register & Bee, December 27, 2010, retrieved December 28, 2010.
  13. Web. VDOT ISSUES REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR RT. 29 BYPASS, Shannon Marshall, Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia, September 27, 2011, retrieved October 26, 2011.
  14. Web. 9 Firms qualified for Charlottesville Bypass RFP, Tamara Rollison, Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond, VA, December 16, 2011, retrieved December 21, 2011.
  15. Web. Western Bypass contract awarded, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, VA, June 20, 2012, retrieved June 25, 2012.
  16. Web. New Western Bypass battle brewing, J. Reynolds Hutchins, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, November 16, 2013, retrieved November 18, 2013.
  17. Web. Recommendations unveiled for U.S. 29 congestion relief, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, May 8, 2014, retrieved May 19, 2014.
  18. Web. Virginia Code Section 33. 1-90, Commonwealth of Virginia, retrieved June 22, 2011.
  19. McDonnell, Robert. "AG Op. HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD, 2007 Va. AG 102 (07-069) HIGHWAYS, BRIDGES AND FERRIES: TRANSPORTATION BOARD — ALLOCATION OF HIGHWAY FUNDS — MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS." Web. 23 Aug. 2010. <http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/docs/20071004-AG-opinion-on-bypass.pdf>.
  20. Web. Opinions of the Attorney General and report to the Governor of Virginia 2007, Attorneyy General, Commonwealth of Virginia, retrieved 12 July 2011.

Studies

Studies related to the Western Bypass available on cvillepedia


Correspondence

Correspondence related to the Western Bypass available on cvillepedia


External Links