September 2, 2013
The intersection of Route 29 and Hydraulic Road in Charlottesville is among the city's busiest, and city council wants to make drivers' commute through the area a little simpler.
"The project is primarily to make a smoother right turn onto 29," said Jim Tolbert, the city's director of Neighborhood Development Services.
City council on Tuesday will consider allocating $400,000 to buy the right of way to make traffic improvements from four businesses in the area -- The Import Car Store, Kmart, Sherwin-Williams Paints and Outback Steakhouse.
"I don't see the problem with being on Hydraulic," said Cathy Seymour, owner of The Import Car Store. "The problem is basically no deceleration lanes and causes the traffic to back up on 29 because of where the Best Buy is."
City staff says the purpose of taking parts of the properties is to make the drive westbound on Hydraulic Road a little easier and less confusing.
"Folks who are used to driving westbound on Hydraulic as you come by Whole Foods and you come up to Kmart, all of a sudden that right lane ends and you have to turn into Kmart," Tolbert said. "This will take that out and allow you to continue straight on, so the right-hand lane can better function as a right-turn lane."
The physical impact will mostly be for The Import Car Store and Kmart. The Sherwin-Williams and Outback Steakhouse are also affected, but mostly just for utility work.
"It's a little bit of the edge of their properties," Tolbert said. "It won't impact them physically at all."
The $400,000 is coming from money leftover from two other projects in the city -- the Old Lynchburg Road and McIntire Road Extended projects.
Tolbert said the city did an appraisal on all four properties. Pending council's vote on Tuesday, the city will formally make an offer to the businesses for the land. If the businesses don't accept the offer, council could consider calling for eminent domain, but Tolbert called that a "last resort."
Still, Seymour still questions whether any improvements that take away part of her land are necessary.
"We haven't seen any backups, any issues whatsoever," she said.