Businesses React to 29 Improvement Plan

By: News Email
By: News Email

June 18, 2014

Myriam Hernandez and her husband Claudio started a restaurant, Al Carbón, earlier this year.

"We're trying to bring the authentic Mexican street food here," explained Hernandez.

Their restaurant is in the Woodbrook Shopping Center along 29, which has been helping Al Carbón get a lot of traffic.

"We have a chicken costume waving on 29, especially over the weekends, because we want to attract all of this 29 traffic that is passing here," said Hernandez. "It has helped. Many people have said, 'oh, I was just driving home and I saw your chicken costume and here we are!'"

In Richmond on Wednesday, the Commonwealth Transportation Board agreed on a plan aimed at relieving the traffic congestion on Route 29. Their vote is part of the $13.1 billion dollar outline for the next six years of state transportation improvements.

The plan sets aside more than $250 million towards grade-separated interchanges at Rio Road. The grade-separated interchange means through traffic will go underneath the intersection. They will also study making a similar interchange at Hydraulic Road.

Many local officials supported this plan, but some businesses along this stretch of 29 worry they will either take a hit during the construction or that they will lose business based on limited access when the project is done.

Hernandez hopes plans will allow customers to keep coming to her new restaurant.

"We just opened end of February, so we're hoping that everything is going to be okay and they, {as a} part of this project, they have taken in consideration small businesses like us."

Other projects aimed at easing up traffic on the 29 corridor are getting funded, including extending Berkmar Drive and Hillsdale Drive, funding for a second daily Amtrak train through Charlottesville, synchronizing the lights along 29. A big chunk of the money to fund these projects was previously set aside for the controversial Route 29 bypass.

Hernandez hopes the construction projects will ultimately help her restaurant.

"We're hoping to keep growing and that this project...will help us keep growing, because we are supporting a lot of local businesses as well. And that they have taken in consideration and that there are no problems coming our way."

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