Since Virginia’s Department of Transportation very clearly told taxpayers that this so-called Western “bypass” of Charlottesville was a fiscal irrationality several times and in several ways, it makes little difference whether the Southern Terminus design was “incompetence” or “bait and switch” — issues which Keith Crawford spells out brilliantly in a March 23 letter to the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

The whole project is a financial boondoggle which destroys any concept of rational planning. VDOT, after all, declared in 2009 that “the Western Bypass is no longer an effective option to serve corridor-wide trips” – its sole mandated purpose.

At best, this $244 million (even without the bait and switch change orders to which Mr. Crawford alludes) amounts to taxpayers spending $162,666 per DAILY VEHICLE — or $4.7 million per SECOND SAVED over driving existing 29N. One does not need to wonder why Taxpayers for Common Sense calls this one of the nation’s worst eight projects and BaconsRebellion calls it “The Road to Wealth Destruction.”

Following VDOT’s US 29 North Corridor Transportation Study, Albemarle County planners discussed the so-called “bypass” in the Places29 plan. ALL Albemarle County supervisors signed onto and supported Places29. It reads:

“While the originally proposed Western Bypass would have served most of the regional traffic (the 12% of drivers moving through the Places29 area without stopping), the Bypass would not have helped local traffic (64%) or served many of the subregional vehicle trips (24%).

“It was recognized in 1990 after VDOT’s consultant study of alternatives to relieve congestion in the US 29 corridor that a western bypass was not preferable to or a substitute for improvements in the corridor. In fact, in the early 1990s, the City, County, and University signed an agreement concurring with a 1990 Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) resolution that sequenced improvements such that the Western Bypass would be constructed only after completion of projects such as the widening of US 29 from Hydraulic Road to the South Fork of the Rivanna River, the Meadow Creek Parkway, grade separated interchanges on US 29 at Hydraulic Road, Greenbrier Drive, and Rio Road, and the North
Grounds Connector, and only ?when traffic on Route 29 is unacceptable and economic conditions permit.”

Albemarle County went on: “The US 29 North Corridor Transportation Study has shown that the set of transportation improvements recommended in this (Places29) Plan will be an effective and efficient means to address existing and future transportation demands for all users of the US 29 Corridor during the 20-year implementation timeframe.”

Yet the key concepts — grade separated interchanges at Rio and Hydraulic — disappeared from Places29 when this thoroughly-discredited “bypass” was suddenly resurrected in the infamous against-rules, off-agenda, midnight vote two springs ago.