June 17, 2014
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) is meeting this week to consider a $203 million package of improvements on U.S Route 29 in Albemarle County.
The CTB voted Tuesday to add nearly $30 million to that package of money in order to fully fund additional Amtrak train services between Lynchburg and Washington, D.C.
The rest of the money would be spent on two grade-separated interchange along Rt. 29: One at Rio Road, the other at Hydraulic Road. The interchanges are part of the recommendations suggested by Philip Shucet, a former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), hired to suggest alternate ways to spend $200 million that had been allocated for the now-defunct Western Bypass of U.S. 29.
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and members of the Charlottesville City Council have endorsed the plan, but business owners along Rt. 29 are not so sure.
“I've had several meetings with individuals in the area,” says Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “They are overwhelmingly seven or eight to one people supporting the recommendations. The few people who aren't supportive are supportive of all but the Rio interchange is what I'm hearing from the business community and I've met with Mr. Crutchfield and others.”
The CTB expects to hear more opposition from business owners along Rt. 29 tomorrow before a vote.
If the CTB votes to add the two interchange projects to VDOT’s six-year improvement program it simply means the money will be allocated. There will still be a design process to figure out how long construction will take and how businesses in the area will be affected.