February 7, 2013
The proposed Western Bypass project has landed Charlottesville on a list of the most endangered places in the southeast.
This is the second year the Southern Environmental Law Center has included the city on its top 10 list, citing the project's high cost, threat to drinking water and its proximity to schools.
"The threat remains. It's very urgent," said Marie Hawthore, the director of development and marketing for the SELC. "VDOT continues to push forward with this terrible project despite positive alternatives being available."
Hawthorne says the group sifted through 150 active cases and projects across six states to come up with the top 10 list. She says the Western Bypass project represents a larger trend of circumventing laws that are put in place to ensure transportation dollars are spent wisely.
She says the group wants to highlight the fact that how and where roads and highways are built have a significant impact on the quality of life in communities.
The SELC says that going through with multi-million dollar project would leave a permanent scar on Charlottesville.
"It's just critical that we continue to emphasize what a threat this is to the community. The people here already know that, but there are people at the federal and at the state level that need to realize that this project is a big deal," said Morgan Butler, who lead's the SELC's Charlottesville/Albemarle Project. "It's going to profoundly shape the future of Charlottesville."
To read more about what the SELC thinks should be done to fix traffic problems on Route 29, CLICK HERE.
Other areas of the Commonwealth to make the list are Virginia's mountains because of the threat mountaintop removal poses to forests, streams and wildlife as well as Southside, Virginia, for the impact lifting a ban on uranium mining could pose to drinking water.
This is the fifth year the SELC has released its list of the Top 10 Endangered Places in the Southeast.