$270,000,000

Heads-up. The transportation conversation in the Charlottesville/Central Virginia region is about to get a whole lot more interesting. We may have to pay for our region’s indecision and inability to move forward.

That’s the estimated cost for the Western Bypass, which has been debated and on the books for years. And now Lynchburg is pushing it forward (or seeking repayment). Of course, this has been debated and argued for years.

From WINA:

Federal and state money has been spent designing the Western Bypass and acquiring land, but the project has not moved forward. And now comes a major development. Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (pictured) has issued an opinion related to the Western Bypass that could affect funding for all highway projects in our area. McDonnell says if the local highway oversight group known as the Metropolitan Planning Organization takes the Western Bypass off its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan, our highway district could lose a lot of money. McDonnell says if the feds and the state want to get back the money they’ve spent so far on the Bypass, they could deduct it from the construction funds they send. That could amount to a loss of millions of dollars to the Culpeper District. The Attorney General issued his opinion at the request of Lynchburg State Senator Steve Newman (pictured below), who’s been fighting for years to get a bypass around Charlottesville.

Attorney General McDonnell’s letter is here (PDF):

You ask whether the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (“MPO”) would risk losing its primary system highway construction funds should it remove the proposed U.S. Route 29 Bypass around Charlottesville (“Bypass”) from its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan (“Plan”).  If MPO removes the Bypass from its Plan and the federal government requests reimbursement of its funds expended on the Bypass, you ask whether MPO would be required to repay such amount from its primary highway system funds.

Response
It is my opinion that if MPO removes the Bypass from its Plan and the Federal Highway Administration requires the Commonwealth to reimburse the funds spent on the Bypass, an amount equal to such reimbursement would be deducted from the primary system highway construction funds for the Department of Transportation district in which the Bypass is located.  Further, an amount equal to all state funds expended on the Bypass would be deducted from the primary system highway construction funds allocated to such district.

This comment from cvillenews in 2002 sums up the Western Bypass, and pretty much all road projects in our region:

When I arrived in Charlottesville in the summer of 1981 the discussions pro and con the Western Bypass were raging. Twenty-one years later, they still are and the arguments have not changed all that much.

Opponents don’t care how the traffic problem is solved as long as it doesn’t involve a Western Bypass.

Time to get re-educated on the pros and cons (and which properties would be affected by) of the Western Bypass. Transportation solutions, even proposed, dormant ones, impact real estate values.

Update 10/20/2007: The Daily Progress has a good story today.

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7 Comments

  1. Sean Tubbs October 19, 2007 at 10:23

    Jim – Charlottesville Tomorrow is asking all of the candidates in Albemarle County for their thoughts on the bypass at our candidates forums. If you’ll indulge me with two links:

    White Hall

    Rivanna

    Our Scottsville District forum will be at 7:00 PM on October 23 at Monticello High School. We’re co-sponsoring the event with the Free Enterprise Forum.

    You can also check out where all 7 candidates in Albemarle stand on transportation priorities for Route 29 here.

  2. TrvlnMn October 19, 2007 at 10:34

    The Attorney General issued his opinion at the request of Lynchburg State Senator Steve Newman (pictured below), who’s been fighting for years to get a bypass around Charlottesville.

    So why is it so important to Lynchburg that their be a western bypass around Cville?

  3. Frank October 19, 2007 at 11:50

    US 29 is the major highway link from Lynchburg to the DC region. It is a key economic asset for Lynchburg and the forcing of thru traffic through the heavy traffic in north Charlottesville seriously harms the access from Lynchburg to DC. It has become a major bottleneck for thru traffic heading north to DC and back to Lynchburg. A bypass is needed yesterday. Sometimes it’s not all about Charlottesville.

  4. TrvlnMn October 19, 2007 at 15:53

    Thanks for the clarification. In that case Lynchburg wants the bypass they should pay for it themselves. 🙂

  5. Frank October 19, 2007 at 23:08

    The Feds and the State have allocated most of the money as it is part of the US highway system. C’Ville has taken some of the money and spent it on other things. Now they owe millions if the road is not built.

  6. Jim Duncan October 20, 2007 at 09:06

    Frank, thanks for the clarification.

    PEC – thanks for the link; that’s an awful lot to learn. Thanks.