YOU CAN ASK FHWA for BYPASS IMPACT EVALUATION–ONLINE!
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is overseeing a reevaluation by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) of the impacts of the proposed Route 29 bypass. Bypass construction cannot proceed until a favorable reevaluation of impacts is returned. It is important that opponents of the bypass urge that the FHWA require that VDOT conduct a rigorous review of impacts.
The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has created a web page that allows residents to communicate their concerns about the bypass to the FHWA:
A written letter has a powerful impact on decision makers. You can write to FHWA Administrators at:
Irene Rico, Division Administrator
Ed Sundra, Planning and Environmental Manager
Federal Highway Administration
400 North 8th Street, Suite 750
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Tell them that the Bypass is a waste of our tax dollars and disrupts our Community. Here is a copy of the PEC letter:
The proposed Route 29 Western Bypass north of Charlottesville is a controversial and expensive project that VDOT is vigorously pursuing without the thorough evaluation that should be required of any project of this scale, magnitude, and extraordinary public expense. Hundreds of local residents have expressed opposition to this project, but no one seems to be listening. It is critical that the FHWA put the brakes on VDOT’s determined effort to push aside community concerns.
The original Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 1993. As a result, the analysis of critical issues and impacts is quite outdated–especially the traffic information comparing alternatives. A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was completed in 2002, but it covered only a subset of issues related to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Neither study evaluated the potential health impacts of highway emissions on people living nearby, and children especially. Nor did they account for the recent listing as “impaired” of several river and stream segments that would be affected by the construction of the bypass, including stretches of the South Fork of the Rivanna River and Ivy Creek. Furthermore, this quarter-billion-dollar bypass will remove traffic from only half of the 9 miles of the developed and developing segment of Route 29 in Albemarle. One need only look at a map to realize it is a stretch to even call this a bypass.
The FHWA must require that VDOT undertake a very thorough reevaluation of the project, including a detailed traffic study with a complete evaluation of alternatives–particularly the incremental, less-expensive, and more effective improvements recommended in the Places29 Plan. A plan developed with VDOT participation and in February 2011 was unanimously adopted by Albemarle County. A new SEIS is needed and must include a thorough traffic study that looks anew at alternatives from the prior NEPA documents as well as new alternatives that combine grade-separated interchanges at the busiest intersections with other improvements like parallel roads.
For additional information, please review the PEC website for talking points at http://www.pecva.org/index.php/our-region/albemarle-charlottesville/western-bypass .