February 27, 2014
The Places29 Advisory Council met Thursday night to discuss the future of Route 29.
Places29 is a plan that includes a number of improvements to minimize congestion on the Route 29 corridor in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
It's not a new plan and never went away, but the vision -- developed in 2011 -- is back in the spotlight now that seeking alternatives to the Western Bypass project has seen growing support.
The council chairwoman says the Places29 plan was put on the back burner after the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors reestablished its support for the Western Bypass project in June 2011.
Last week, supervisors withdrew that support in favor of a new resolution that includes completing some of the transportation projects outlined in the Places29 vision.
This was also the group's first meeting since the Federal Highway Administration asked VDOT to look into alternatives to the decades-old bypass proposal.
The first five priority projects included in the Places29 plan were reviewed at the Thursday's meeting. Those are:
-The Best Buy ramp project
-Extending Hillsdale Drive north of Hydraulic Road
-Berkmar Drive Extended
-Widening Route 29 to six lanes from Polo Grounds Road north to Town Center Drive
-Transit system expansion and improvements
"[The council] agrees on the five priority projects, which were approved as part of the Places29, and we're going to continue on with those," said Albemarle County supervisor Ken Boyd after the meeting. "Most of them have been funded now, so I think we ought to concentrate on getting those done and then let the state and the feds work out the rest of it."
Boyd says the plan is still a plan -- nothing is official. He says the largest part of the land that would be used in the priority projects still belongs to private land owners. The Places29 council is also waiting to see what the state and federal government hash out in upcoming meetings regarding the future of Route 29.
"Nobody really knows where it's going to go from here. That's the real problem. It's sort of put everything on hold until the Federal Highway Administration and the state get together and decide where they're going to go from here," said Boyd.
A group meeting is scheduled for next week in Richmond to discuss bypass alternatives.