Category Archives: Transportation
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
Police officers in the City of Charlottesville have doubled in the past two years the number of tickets they have issued to bicyclists, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.
- Good. As a bicycle advocate and rider, seeing cyclists cutting in and out of traffic, on and off sidewalks, blowing through red lights, etc. makes it harder for the law-abiding cyclists.
- Really? The number of times I’ve watched a car badly blow through a red light while a police officer sits there watching the offense is itself almost criminal.
- Bad. Points on a driver’s license because of these infractions? Don’t you have to have a license in order to get points on said license?
- Good. Maybe this will serve as a discussion point for educating the police, cyclists and drivers.
- Is there something in the Code of Virginia for distracted pedestrians? Maybe they could target UVA students on the Corner; they’re dangerous, too.
Maybe the City can add this discussion point to their newest $50k study on creating and integrating “complete streets.” (it would be awfully nice to have this discussion include how to traverse City/County lines rather than myopically looking solely at each locality’s needs.)
Walkability, in addition to generally having a positive effect on housing values, seems to lead to happier people as well.
If you haven’t seen Nextdraft, you should.
Are you trying to be more happy? If so, you might want to consider getting out of your car. According to Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City, we tend to be happier in places where we take to the streets and interact with each other. “As much as we complain about other people, there is nothing worse for mental health than a social desert. The more connected we are to family and community, the less likely we are to experience heart attacks, strokes, cancer and depression. Connected people sleep better at night. They live longer. They consistently report being happier.” Here are the secrets of the world’s happiest cities.
Food for thought. Continue reading
The Albemarle County elections last night brought about a resounding change on the Albemarle County Supervisors. Gone are Rodney Thomas and Duane Snow; in are Brad Sheffield and Liz Palmer. For what it’s worth, the Democrats won and the Republicans lost.
Looking at the races through the lens of VPAP data, I saw this in a Facebook conversation:
So which Supervisors are beholden to real estate development groups? Here are some of the top donations by industry… Notice a pattern?
Duane Snow, $17,800 Real Estate/Construction
Liz Palmer, $26,043 Miscellaneous
Rodney Thomas, $12,300 Real Estate/Construction
Brad Sheffield, $17,386 Miscellaneous
It’s hard to argue with money. Seemingly more than the ballot box, money matters.
Local elections matter. The localities vote on growth management strategies, property tax rates, the ways in which the emergency services operate and cooperate (or not) and notably transportation and infrastructure improvements. And yesterday, about 13,000 people in Albemarle County helped decide the near (and long) term future of Albemarle County.
Palmer, Sheffield and McKeel ran campaigns hinged on the county’s growing transportation problems and angst over the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.
Whether the Western Bypass gets built will be an interesting (continued) debate. Will they build it? Will they shut it down? Will they study it more? Will they extend it so it’s a more logical and functional road?
The County needs infrastructure improvements … let’s see how the new Board chooses to take up that task.
Would you prefer to raise the gas tax or pay for each mile you drive? America’s infrastructure is crumbling. Literally. How might we pay for it?
Proposals for taxing vehicles’ miles traveled have been around for a long time.
A quick search on Richmond Sunlight shows that this bill “Motor fuel tax; joint subcommittee to study replacement with mileage-based fee. (HJ626)” failed to make it out of committee in 2009.
Virginia’s Department of Transportation released a study in December 2008 that addressed many of the options available for a VMT tax:
One alternative widely proposed to the fuel tax is a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” (VMT) tax. Under this system, drivers pay a fee based on miles traveled rather than a tax on the amount of fuel used. The VMT tax concept can serve broader policy aims as well, by enabling policy makers to set variable fees in different network areas to reduce congestion during peak travel times, a critical and worsening issue in some metropolitan areas.
Some specific possible implications for real estate:
- Real estate agents might be less inclined to do full-day tours for incoming buyers
- I’d be tempted to encourage more drive-bys of homes and drive-throughs of areas than I do already
- We might see further hyper-local focus on areas and neighborhoods. When I was a new real estate agent in 2001, I used to go all over. As my career developed and gas prices went up, my geographical range for representation has shrunk. I tend to not go to Trevillians or Faber or Pratts very often anymore.
- Increase in bicycle use? Right now in most European countries, bikes are outselling cars. This, I’d say, is a good thing.
- Human settlement patterns may see even more trending towards denser urbanization.
- Higher demand for public transportation.
What would it take to make Charlottesville and Albemarle truly walkable? People who live in areas that are walkable are happier, leaner, have more money for leisure, spend more time with their families … is that really achievable in the Charlottesville area?
The answer is – the public would have to express its desire for this, the leaders would have to listen to the people, collaborate, plan and execute a vision that would enable the City of Charlottesville and County of Albemarle to create more walkable and bikeable localities. Of course, in an area that takes 30+ years to build a short Parkway, I think there’s a better chance of flying cars gaining prominence than thoughtful infrastructure being implemented.
What could be done to craft a truly walkable City/County?
This is the original Google Map I did in 2007. I’ve updated it for today’s world. Biscuit Run is no longer planned. Albemarle Place is now Stonefield (and is built). North Pointe is far off in the horizon.
That’s what it’s seeming like, and the Charlottesville City Planning Department is starting to realize the ramifications of being said solution to UVA’s growth.
Charlottesville Tomorrow reports (read the whole thing):
Several members of the Charlottesville Planning Commission said Tuesday they leaned toward not approving an apartment complex on West Main Street unless the needs of an adjacent public housing site are taken into consideration.
“I have grave concerns about the social justice and the environmental justice issues of putting a project like this next to Westhaven,” said CommissionerGenevieve Keller.
The developers of the proposed 189-unit development, the Standard, had a preliminary discussion with the commission during its meeting Tuesday night. The developers need a special use permit to allow for additional density and building height.
The ramifications – rents, homeownership rates, transience, transportation, the demand for ancillary services – of so many rental units coming on the market at pretty much the same time will be … interesting. We’ll know more in 24 months.
And here you have the story of transportation/infrastructure/”planning” of Charlottesville and Albemarle … in a nutshell (bolding mine):
The Planning Commission is slated to vote on the special use permit later this year, but Keller said she wanted to wait until the results of a $350,000 study of infrastructure required to guide redevelopment of West Main Street. No timetable for that study has been made available.
Look … I’m not saying they should wait for the study results, but I am saying that our localities’ respective proclivities to plan and study and plan to study and study the plan – while growth happens is harmful. To the localities, to businesses, to basic qualities of life of those of us who live here.
Background story on RealCentralVA from October 2012. Some of the other stories I’ve written about West Main Street.
I *really* wish Flickr allowed for geographic searching; searching for “West Main” isn’t so useful.
Graelyn Brashear’s story in C-Ville on the Western Bypass is remarkable; its depth, range, imagery and clarity are outstanding. Take 30 minutes to read it.
Also notable is C-Ville’s presentation of the story; it’s useful and makes a subject of this breadth easier to digest. I particularly like the Medium-like commenting, which is particularly useful for a story of this length. Really, go see it and read it.
The Western Bypass debate/conversation/saga has been ongoing for so long that it’s often impossible for anyone – even long-time residents of Charlottesville (read: Charlottesville + Albemarle + Central Virginia) to fathom or comprehend the scope of both the proposed road and the political/business/transportation dynamics of the Western Bypass (and our region’s collective inability to efficiently solve transportation and planning challenges).
The C-Ville story is an outstanding summary.
I know this:
- Route 29 is a disaster. Hydraulic/29 and Rio/29
- For years, many of my clients target their home search locations as either “not North of Rio” or “not North of Hydraulic”
- The current termination of the Western Bypass is silly
… the current design of the northern terminus is flawed: Northbound traffic from the Bypass is dumped out onto Route 29 just before the light at Ashwood, where the highway narrows from three lanes to two.
I mean, really?
- I’ve told my clients for years that transportation is one of the Charlottesville-Albemarle area’s greatest detractors
- Charlottesville and Albemarle – and the entire region need to be involved in this conversation, not just “the City” or “the County”
Something has to be done, but it really needs to be done 25 years ago. The best solution? I don’t know, but I know that the flawed current proposal is severely flawed. If only our system allowed for a reasonable debate instead of politicians and interest groups fighting rather than compromising.
All this as another anti-Western Bypass group motivates.