Battle over C-ville Bypass Moves to Next Phase

James Utterback, Culpeper District administrator, addresses the Albemarle Supervisors. Photo credit: Charlottesville Tomorrow.

By James A. Bacon

The battle over the $200 million Charlottesville Bypass isn’t over, not by a long shot. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) held a press conference earlier today to “send a clear message” to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community that the U.S. 29 Bypass “has a long way to go.”

“We want to make clear to the community that the bypass is not a done deal. There are many critical steps still to go, many questions that need to be answered, before the first shovel of dirt is turned,” said Trip Pollard, SELC Land and Community Program Director in a prepared statement. “Citizens need to demand that local and state officials provide a full accounting of the impacts and costs of this project before any further steps are taken to advance it.”

The project received the thumbs up this summer from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and the Charlottesville-Albemarle County Metropolitan Planning Organization, paving the way for funding approval by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. But the Virginia Department of Transportation has to complete a number of steps before it can start moving dirt.

“No work has been done on this project since 2002 other than administrative update,” James Utterback, Culpeper District administrator yesterday told the Albemarle supervisors yesterday. (Read the story by Charlottesville Tomorrow.)

VDOT soon will commence with an environmental reevaluation, right-of-way acquisition and issuance of the request for proposals, with the goal of awarding a contract by the first quarter of 2012. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration must “review” the project under the  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a process that will require public input. A key question is whether the circumstances have materially changed since the previous environmental impact statement, which is now 18 years out of date. If so, the FHA could order VDOT to conduct new studies.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but it is clear that this ‘ready, fire, aim’ approach is not adequate to get the data to make an informed decision and the public involvement they suggest would be too little too late,” Pollard said. “The 29 bypass is not a NIMBY issue. Every community, every citizen in the Commonwealth should take note and be concerned about the waste of resources, the willingness to bulldoze ahead without adequate information, and the disregard for public input demonstrated here.”

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8 responses to “Battle over C-ville Bypass Moves to Next Phase”

  1. Ready, fire, aim???

    Yeah, only 20 years of study.

    Enter the left wing loonies arm-in-arm with the tea baggers.

    The only goal of the lawyers is to delay the project long enough that the original right of ways are forfeited, per state law. They don’t want further discussion. They want to kill progress with parliamentary procedure.

    Unbelievable. Another potential job creation area thrown under the bus by the lunatic fringe.

    Let’s see, Virginia has three potential areas of increased commerce and one hopeful area. Let’s inventory:

    Northern Virginia – being destroyed by lunatic fringe from both sides. Federal teat to dramatically slow. Talent exodus.

    Tidewater – being destroyed by lunatic fringe from both sides. Federal teat to dramatically slow. Talent exodus.

    Richmond. Hopeless to start. State teat to dramatically slow as federal funds stop flowing to the Clown Show.

    Charlottesville. Potential destroyed by progress blockers from both sides of the lunatic fringe.

    After Virginia melts down – please don’t ask the other states for help. The brain trust in Richmond did this to themselves. A self-inflicted wound.

  2. Groveton – a bit off topic but I’m intrigued by your hiring and was curious as to what kind of education your new hires will typically have….

    are they fresh out of college with a degree in something or do they have extensive experience in particular kinds of computer languages and disciplines or both or neither?

  3. Either freshly graduated CS majors or people with 2 – 5 years experience programming in a language like Java (regardless of degree). Any experience with lower level (i.e. more technical) software a plus.

  4. I agree with groveton. Any real environmental progress we might have made is being consumed by lawyers.

    It turns my stomach to see a few fatheads corrupting the purpose of the environmental movement, which is fundamentally to make the world a better, healthier place to live. One way to do that is to make sure that vehicles do their job efficiently, which means moving and not sitting still. It also means mass transit that costs less than the BMWs it replaces. It also means not wasting dozens of man years in endlessly protracted obstructist battles.

    It also means not deliberately hurting other people. I have become aware of a situation where a large wealthy conservation agency is suing a young couple to prevent them from building a modest home adjacent to conservation land. The couple had bought a lot that was part of long held family land in the area. The conservation agency has initiated a title dispute to sieze not only the couples lot, but all the family land.

    A member of the conservation agency board had previously sold land nearby, and also adjacent to conservation land. A wealthy couple built a fine home on that land, and they objected to affordable housing being built nearby, so the prevailed upon their wealthy friends at the agency to destroy those young couple. Yet another example of a case where money donated for altruistic use is being wasted on legal bills, on a cause unrelated to the agencies mission, and to the benefit of a few insiders.

    So here is an agency that is already a huge landowner, with an endowment worth millions, and full time legal staff, slowly grinding the local indigenous people to bits.

    Yep, groveton is right on favour the decostructionist loonies that occupy both ends of the political spectrum.

  5. Here is another case of environmental stupidity. Some environmentalists want more (other) people to live in multifamily housing in order to preserve open space and save energy.

    People who live in multifamily units have much higher incidences of asthma. Have a healthy planet..

  6. Since we drive R29 south on a regular basis and just did that trip last week, let me say that Lynchburg had the same problem as Charlottesville.

    The original Rt29 through Lynchburg has been ruined because of commercial development and they now have a really nice bypass around most (but not all of the crapped up Rt29).

    but the new bypass was not paid for by the citizens of Lynchburg… it’s a very expensive looking road…

    and Lynchburg had much vacant land beyond it’s city borders to site a new road.

    whenever you try to put a new road through an already developed area where people live – you are going to have opposition – and they are going to use whatever means is available to them to slow it down or stop it including environmental laws.

    it’s not the environmental laws – it’s the opposition.. the environmental laws are but one way they can oppose … there are other ways… I’m waiting to see what happens when someone puts a key piece of land into a conservation easement…. or a FOIA is launch to get more troubling details which in turn will generate even more opposition.

  7. But in this case it is PEC and Environmental Law Center raising the fight.

    Where do they live?

    No, by and large this is a generalized opposition tht has nothing to do with how it affects individuals. When was the last time PEC or Smart Growth Coalition dcame out in favor of a road, any road?

    Probably never. It is a knee jerk reaction, a canned policy, to be followed blindly regardless of the true costs. Full employent plan for the environmental lawyers.

  8. “Full employent plan for the environmental lawyers.”.

    Yes, and an unemployment plan for everybody else in the post-bloated federal government Virginia.

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