WaPo Columnist: Western Bypass Is 'Wasteful, Ill-Conceived'

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

June 16, 2013

The controversial Route 29 western bypass is getting lots of criticism by a columnist for the Washington Post, and it's spurring some more debate over the road now decades in the making.

The six-mile highway has fueled heated debates locally and statewide -- most recently from Robert McCartney of the Washington Post.

McCartney calls the project wasteful and ill-conceived.

Neil Williamson of Free Enterprise Forum is a strong supporter of the bypass and is disappointed by the one-sided piece.

"I was disappointed because it seems he only read one side of the argument," Williamson said.

The column cites a study by Smart Mobility that shows the proposed bypass does very little to improve traffic operations.

Former planning commission member Lloyd Snook brought up similar data to Coy Barefoot on Sunday's Inside Charlottesville.

"The data shows it would save a trucker going from Gainesville to Danville about 30 seconds," he said.

But Albemarle County supervisor Rodney Thomas, who ran his campaign on getting the bypass built, says it's not about speeding up traffic.

"It's about congestion. Route 29 is getting worse and worse, and this will help. I would say 34 to 36 percent of the traffic that's on 29 now will hit that bypass," Thomas said.

Williamson fears the safety aspect is getting lost in the debate.

"Forty-nine percent of the accidents that happen from the North Carolina border all the way up to Gainesville occur within Charlottesville or Albemarle County," he said. "That's unacceptable."

The piece also criticizes Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration for pushing big highway projects using money that can go elsewhere.

"The idea that the McDonnell administration is interested in building roads is a good thing," Williamson said. "Americans love mobility and our roads are our ticket to mobility. We need to have a good, solid, infrastructure and that includes a US 29 bypass."

You can read the full Washington Post column here.

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