July 10, 2014
The Route 29 Project Delivery Advisory Panel held its first meeting Thursday afternoon.
The 12-member panel advised the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on improvement projects along the Route 29 corridor in Central Va. during their first meeting.
The panel is made up of representatives from Charlottesville, Albemarle, and businesses along the corridor. All have different interests and one major objective. They want to get this project done with as little negative impact as possible.
The plan for Rt. 29 sets aside more than $250 million towards projects that include grade-separated interchanges that will allow thru-traffic to pass underneath the busy intersection at Rio Road.
Group facilitator Philip Shucet called it an important step.
"This is the opportunity for the city and the county and the business representatives to have input on the process in terms of how each project is going to be delivered. Design issues, construction issues and I think a big one for everyone is maintenance of traffic. How are you going to maintain traffic with all this construction going on?"
The decision about what projects to do is done.
A series of project delivery objectives were laid out. Complete the best buy ramp and the signal light timing by July 2016, finish the grade separated intersection between final exercises and the first football game with incentives to finish in 2016. The goal is to have all of the rest of the projects wrapped up by October 2017. They hope to have a contractor in place by this February.
One group that is particularly interested in those deadlines and construction dates? Chuck Lebo of Lebo Commercial properties says businesses along that stretch that want to know when the construction will be happening along the road.
"It was the beginning of a number of discussions that will be necessary to keep the businesses along 29 aware of the construction processes, what it means to their customers getting access in and out of their properties and being able to shop without as many difficulties as there could be."
Lebo says the panel members also want to make sure there is a line of communication open with businesses along the corridor that will be impacted by the construction.
"If there is some communication that says your lanes are going to be closed for three days or four days they can plan accordingly but when you don't know if it’s going to be three days or three weeks it’s pretty tough to keep your business alive."
Morgan Butler says the end goal is to help that corridor thrive with less congestion.
"Certainly there will be some negative impacts during construction. It’s just a part of growing pains. We have to keep our eyes on the longer term and here once the projects are done I think the corridor will be improved significantly and be a more viable place that people want to shop, people want to visit, people want to live."
More information about the proposed Route 29 improvement projects can be found on VDOT’s web site, www.Route 29 Solutions.org.