Category Archives: Transportation

29 to Get More Car-Friendly (soon) & West Main to get More Bike-Friendly

The stories of two Charlottesville/Albemarle arteries:

29:
However, he unveiled a timetable that lists major milestones that must be met to ensure all the projects are completed by October 2017. “About a year from now, we’re going to have a set of plans for construction for Rio,” Shucet said. Plans to manage traffic and relocate utilities will be developed in the spring, Shucet said. The road and bridge designs will be reviewed by July, and the plans will be approved by August 2015, he said.
West Main:
The loss of 30 street parking spaces on Charlottesville’s West Main Street in favor of marked bicycle lanes remains a key concern, members of a steering committee learned Wednesday. ... Though increased walkability may promise to bring foot traffic to local businesses, the loss of street parking in order to accommodate bicycle lanes failed to win the support of some business owners.
I've yet to see (I probably haven't looked hard enough) to see any plans for how to better connect Charlottesville and Albemarle to each other in a bicycle-friendly way.
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Goodbye Western Bypass

11-20110712-29Bypass-Rendering

The Western Bypass takes its place the history books.

Dating back at least 30 years, the Commonwealth "voted to cancel all previous decisions approving construction of the 6.2-mile road” and the former owners of the properties purchased by VDOT that would have been used by the Western Bypass can now buy back those properties … for the original purchase price (thanks to Sean Tubbs for this knowledge).

Cvillepedia rightly calls the Western Bypass “defunct.”

I wonder just how much money was spent on the Western Bypass.

If you’re curious:

- This is what the Western Bypass might have looked like (2012) - Graelyn Brashear at C-Ville did a great story last year on the Bypass. - A reader asked me in 2008 why the Western Bypass hadn’t yet been built - The Bypass should have been longer; by the time it got to the actual planning/funding stages, it was outdated.- $270 million - the estimated cost put forth in 2007
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What is the value of a Greenway?

Bikes on a deck in Charlottesville

What is the value of a green way to a buyer in today's market?

Had an interesting conversation this morning in the Crozet Mudhouse with someone who was noting that the attitude shift toward greenways has shifted significantly in the past 10 years or so.

It used to be that real estate agents and developers and even buyers placed little to no value in having access to a means of passage that was not centered around an automobile.

Today, that attitude has shifted 180°.

Access to bike paths or suitable walking trails (for strollers) is an enormous asset. through my admittedly myopic view as seen through the eyes of my buyer clients who are seeking such access and proximity, and through the eyes of my seller clients who are advocating for the benefits of such access, I would say that the world has shifted in this respect.

In the Charlottesville Albemarle area my view is that the City of Charlottesville is fairly well poised to design and build more greenways and bike paths (hint: West Main). The County of Albemarle needs more will and more money. And they both need to work together to have the respective systems work together.

Worth noting is that the departments within the respective localities are filled with remarkable people doing remarkable work.

The market wants these things.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 29 Saga Continues

_BAP0052

Decades and decades of planning and fighting about what to do about Route 29 and I’d argue that our region is worse off because nothing substantive has been done other than widening 29 and adding stop lights.

Anyone stepping into the morass that is the evolution of the 29 Corridor would be hard-pressed to make sense of what the County is trying to accomplish. Sean Tubbs at Charlottesville Tomorrow does a good job breaking down where we are right now in the 29 planning process.

A $203 million package of solutions to ease traffic congestion on U.S. 29 through Albemarle andCharlottesville includes one new road, a grade-separated intersection at Rio Road, study of a similar facility at Hydraulic Road, and a down payment on a second daily Amtrak train.

Pictures are worth 1000 words; this concept of what the grade-separated interchanges look like is a start.

There is a public hearing about these 29 alternatives on 27 May. Hopefully people will show up.

I know this; my younger daughter will be driving by the time this thing is halfway started.

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Costco Coming to Charlottesville, Bringing Traffic With It

Who woulda thunk that dropping 150,000 square feet of retail would bring traffic with it? The Stonefield shopping center is challenging at best to navigate - from Trader Joe’s to Pasture, for example, and is remarkably so for a pedestrian (I haven’t yet tried to bicycle there as 29 is scary).

If you’re curious to read some of the background, these are some of the stories I was writing in 2006 about Stonefield, which was originally called Albemarle Place.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, Transportation | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

If Only … Bike Lanes were Ubiquitous

Two and a half miles to dinner (x2) - about 16 minutes - is easy. Bicycling as transportation is something other countries (and some American cities) understand. It's about time we did so as well.
Posted in General Real Estate, Transportation | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Western Bypass is Apparently Dead. So What’s Next?

So says the Daily Progress.

One decades-old question was answered with a resounding no.

“A bypass is not something we would consider,” Norfolk-based consultant Philip A. Shucet, the head of the advisory panel and former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, told the board.

Nearly two years after officials awarded a contract for the bypass, and after $54 million was spent on the project, the planned 6.2-mile road has become a footnote.

The transportation board, a 17-member panel of gubernatorial appointees that presides over Virginia’s transportation system, will determine what happens to unspent money from a project state officials had valued at more than $244 million.

If nothing else, this seems to remove the uncertainty from the conversation about the Western Bypass. We can return now to our discussions about the woes of traffic on 29 North and how the CharlAlbemarle area is woefully incapable of understanding the issues and equally incapable of implementing solutions. Such is life.

Rather than go into the history of the Western Bypass (it goes on for decades), discuss the various regional influences (Lynchburg is key), the various local players (broadly it’s growth vs no-growth) and whether VDOT is going to sell the houses it bought many years ago (it should if the Bypass is truly dead) or even whether the Western Bypass was the right route (it wasn’t but that’s because it’s a 30+ year old design, designed well before massive growth on 29 North) - start looking at background at Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Lynchburg is mad.

There is a fundamental disagreement over what, exactly, U.S. 29 is. Is it a major north-south transportation corridor with the goal of providing relatively unimpeded traffic flow to through traffic along its 1,000-mile path or is it, in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, a local retail strip? It can’t be both. ...
Charlottesville and Albemarle, however, still persist in their silly, outdated belief that U.S. 29 is really just “Emmett Street,” the local retail strip, and has no connection to the rest of the state. That’s evident in Albemarle’s “plan” to address improvements on Emmett Street: a silly, utopian “Places29” with overpasses — built where major retail centers now sit — for through traffic, pedestrian-friendly amenities and added lanes for traffic.

I think they’re right. If the bypass is truly dead, what’s the solution?

Short story - a new solution needs to be implemented. One would assume it would need to be agreed upon first, so let’s accept that the segmentation of the Charlottesville - Albemarle region will continue. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just is. (more)

One of the first things I thought about what this line from Ocean’s 11.

I’m thinking we will need to wait for Elon Musk’s hyper loop.

Posted in Albemarle, Charlottesville, General Real Estate, Politics, Transportation | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Will the Western Bypass Ever be Built?

Who knows if and when the Western Bypass will be built? Know this - lots of people will show up to comment on it. Again.

A vote on the resolution could follow the hearing, set to begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the County Office Building’s Lane Auditorium. That session is expected to stretch into the night and generate huge turnout, the latest turn in the enduring saga of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.

I asked years ago a question about the Meadowcreek (John Warner) Parkway that could (and should, in a reasonable world) be asked of the Western Bypass - How would they design the Western Bypass today, with today’s human settlement and development patterns in place?

The answer is that the road would likely be a very different solution. Because implementing infrastructure solutions in the Charlottesville - Albemarle region takes a minimum of 30-50 years, plans should change, but they won’t.

I know this -

- The proponents aren’t going to give up just because the road is a flawed design. Terminating at Forest Lakes is the wrong terminus - it was probably the right location 30 years ago, but now it should dump traffic north of the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, probably north of the UVA North Fork Research Park and really should terminate in Greene County. Those necessary changes aren’t going to happen.

- The opponents are accused of using flawed data as are the proponents, whenever these arguments arise. They don’t want the bypass and disregard the studies saying that the Western Bypass will save time.

- I just wish there was unbiased data and analysis by which the citizens could make informed decisions. I also wish that unicorns were real and

Charlottesville Tomorrow has the most comprehensive coverage of the Western Bypass, including the proposed route(s). Check out their CvillePedia page on the Western Bypass too.

Update - Interesting analysis and commentary comes to us today from the C-Ville.
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