Del. Valentine’s Route 29 Bypass Bypass bill.

My friend Del. Shannon Valentine (D-Lynchburg) filed a great bill this year that I hadn’t noticed until now: HB2664 would let VDOT manage the development of roads connecting to Route 29.

The idea is to deal with the basic problem of Route 29 around Charlottesville. Lynchburg has been agitating for a Route 29 Bypass Bypass around Charlottesville for years, and despises Charlottesville for not building it. But we’ve already got a bypass, though the city has grown in the decades since, and now the bypass doesn’t really bypass anything. But a bypass is useless with unchecked growth—we’d have to build it 20 miles north of the city right now, running 30-odd miles around the city before dumping back on 29 South again just to bypass the existing growth, and there’s no reason why sprawl can’t continue north and south of that bypass, thus necessitating a bypass bypass bypass in twenty years. Shannon wants to allow VDOT to simply deny the right to connect any new roads or driveways to 29, which is really the only circumstance under which a bypass makes sense.

The House Transportation Committee killed it, unfortunately. But, hey, good show. It takes a particularly thoughtful delegate to craft a bill about a 29 bypass that both Charlottesville and Lynchburg residents can get behind.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

34 replies on “Del. Valentine’s Route 29 Bypass Bypass bill.”

  1. The good folks of Lynchburg are convinced that the good folks of Charlottesville are bound and determined to keep Rt 29 from becoming a de-facto Interstate that would supercharge Lynchburg’s economy.

    I take Rt 29 to N.C. to visit relatives but I pick it off of I-64 – south of C-ville but for much of the route – there are many, many driveways and secondary road intersections. High-volume, Heavy duty truck traffic will turn that corridor into road kill – literally.

    I don’t think there was ever enough money for the scope and scale of Bypass that you allude to… much less now…where Cville is going to be lucky to get 2 million a year for as far as the eye can see because unless they take the pachyderms in Richmond out back of the shed and shoot them.. there will be no new taxes for roads….(not a bad thing in some respects).

  2. Years ago Lynchburg was excluded from close Interstate access. We are the largest community in the US w/out such an access. Something needs to be done to help trucks and commerce, not to mention citizens, in travels to,from and around Lynchburg to places beyond!

  3. I’ve thought Lynchburg might be better served by building a new four-lane road along the southside of the James River. Such a road would cross the James east of Scottsville and then connect with Rt. 15 around Palmyra. Upgrade that route to four lanes to Culpeper and you’ve truly bypassed Charlottesville.

  4. The problem is that Rt 29 north of Culpeper is chock-a-block with curb cuts and secondary road intersections and is gradually getting more and more traffic signals.

    I think connecting to the west to I-81 – along the James might have as good a chance as any.

    But the bigger issue with roads and economic development is that one reason that VDOT is broke is because so many localities viewed transportation funds as economic development funds.

    It’s undeniable that roads can bring economic benefits but who should be paying for – say – roads that will benefit Lynchburg’s economy?

    I’ll admit that the original decisions about where to locate the interstate system (and where not to), in essence, created winners and losers – but the original purpose of the interstates was to connect the country with a national road network – a national issue worthy of national tax dollars because it benefited the country as a whole.

    I think the idea of an interstate going through Lynchburg and south to NC has merit but trying to drive it up and around Charlottesville and Culpeper is a no-go.

  5. This idea that industry abandoned Lynchburg because of having to spend an extra 10 minutes to get trucks around Charlottesville on their way north is absurd. Nobody moves a factory all the way to Mexico or China, adding days or weeks to shipping schedules, in order to avoid a 10 or 20 minute shipping delay on the interstate.

  6. Lacking an interstate connection is like having a zit on your nose in high school. You’re left out. Again and again and again and again and again.
    So it wasn’t that industry abandoned Lynchburg, but that new industry found other places closer to the interstate.

  7. That’s true Mike. However the people who didn’t abandon Lynchburg are at LU up on the Mountain. That has allowed a completely different problem to arise due to no Interstate access.
    Now that college students are allowed to vote in the city where they attend college LU students can vote in National, State and local elections. If they continue to vote in large numbers as they did in November LU students will help conservatives control The 23rd HOD seat and city council. Having no Interstate or a better 20 corridor will pale in comparison.

  8. Of course, if the Republicans pass their voting bills, it will be a felony for those Liberty students to register in Lynchburg… but that’s a little off the point of this diary.

  9. The statement “Years ago Lynchburg was excluded from close Interstate access. We are the largest community in the US w/out such an access.” doesn’t withstand basic scrutiny.

    Some larger US communities that are comparably far or farther away from interstates:

    San Angelo, TX
    some CA Central Valley cities, e.g. Fresno, Visalia
    some CA coastal cities, e.g. Santa Maria, Santa Barbara

    and, the clincher:

    Bend, OR (a solid 2x as far away from an interstate)

  10. So Lynchburg needs to add east of the Mississippi. It’s easier to bypass cities in the wide open spaces.

  11. Mike wrote: “So it wasn’t that industry abandoned Lynchburg, but that new industry found other places closer to the interstate.”

    Actually, if you knew anything about Lynchburg, you’d know that industry hasn’t abandoned Lynchburg and the economy in Lynchburg is faring better than much of the state.

  12. None the less, no matter whether Lynchburg is a victim or circumstance or not – you are not going to convert Rt 29 to an interstate and your blind advocacy to do so – reveals a rather arrogant mindset especially when Lynchburg goes around telling other communities how to do business.

    Federal Highway and VDOT both have said clearly, that Rt 29 is not going to be an Interstate.

    That road cannot handle significant large truck traffic without serious impacts to local communities along it’s length.

    It was never designed as a limited-access road and while the more rural parts of it between Lynchburg and Danville do operate as a limited-access road, further north – the cost of relocating the curb cuts to convert the road to limited-access would be astronomical.

    But hey, if that what Lynchburg wants, let’s put tolls on the roads in Lynchburg and let them pay to upgrade Rt 29 since it seems they are the ones that want it upgraded.

  13. Call it blind advocacy if you want, but a refutation of what someone posted as fact is not really an indication of full support. Neither FHA or VDOT have released the findings of the latest study of US 29, which is still in process. The road will evolve with or without the support of certain localities, probably sooner rather than later; if it were a matter of only the the Southern portion being considered, the state wouldn’t have designed the bypasses of Warrenton and Culpeper in the way they did.
    In regards to arrogance, I’d counter that one’s consideration of a highway that is funded by the Federal Government and Virginia taxpayers to be one’s own main st. is a pretty arrogant stance on it’s own. I’m all in support of toll booths, end-to-end, of any new road, and that has worked well in the Richmond area, but the suggestion that Lynchburg foot the bill to upgrade an over-developed and poorly planned corridor in Cville is surely tongue-in-cheek. Seeing that close to 10% of employment in Cville is provided by the state, I’d say that the tax dollars of Virginians do enough to support the area.

  14. FYI – “Congress has designated the heavily traveled U.S. 29 as a national highway system route. The title is the designation below an interstate.”

    what the above means – that those who advocate Interstate status for Rt 29 .. at least spent a brief amount of time understanding how the process works – and does not work.

    Whether or not Charlottesville has a state-funded University has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand other than to demonstrate the arrogant attitudes in Lynchburg about other localities in Va.

    You cannot toll the northern sections of Rt 29 because of all the traffic signals and curb cuts.

    But you CAN TOLL the southern sections to build up a fund for essentially “buying” more limited access conversions.

    If that is what Lynchburg wants, then let Lynchburg show it’s commitment ….

    In other words, rather than poking it’s nose in other communities business.. take some positive actions of it’s own to demonstrate it is serious about finding the funding to convert the road.

    Otherwise, isn’t Lynchburg essentially expecting other Va taxpayers (and national taxpayers) to pay for something that Lynchburg should be financially responsible for?

  15. Lynchburg is demonstrating how the current funding for highways has been exhausted and is now broke.

    Lynchburg and other communities like it – ignore the fundamental reason for roads – which is transportation – and see them as Economic Development vehicles.

    That’s fine as long as we agree that State/Federal taxpayers are paying to connect cities and localities taxpayers are responsible for economic development.

    What has happened to VDOT’s funding is too many localities having roads built that were for economic development rather than transportation.

    This is why – limited access roads came into being because places like Lynchburg (and Charlottesville to be fair) would “use” a highway meant for transportation – as an economic development venue – thus degrading and ultimately destroying it’s functional utility.

    Lynchburg got a whole bunch of new infrastructure paid for not by them – but by the taxpayers of Virginia because the cost of the new roads around Lynchburg far exceeded the amount of money that Lynchburg itself generated in gas taxes.

    Lynchburg was lucky. If those new roads had been delayed about 5 years and not yet finished, they too would have been victims of the latest budget cuts.

    Not to be satisfied.. now Lynchburg wants a tax increase on other taxpayers (to pay for new roads in Charlottesville) AND they want to tell the citizens of Charlottesville that Lynchburg should decide how to do roads for that area.

    If that is not arrogance, what is?

  16. Larry- do a little bit more research on the FHWA site, so that you don’t waste time arguing that highway development is simply about transportation and should not be a tool for economic development. I only know of ONE individual that championed US 29 as an interstate, but haven’t read anything from him in a while, so don’t assume that the whole US 29 argument is about turning the road into an interstate. The road IS designated as a future interstate from Greensboro to Danville, but that is about as far as that goes. I’d imagine some will get a good laugh in about 20 years, when truck and car thru traffic has increased to unbearable levels (remember 10 years ago?) through Charlottesville and Cvillians will be clamoring for an answer to the problem. Just like the situation 10 years ago, the TJPD will want to take state money for road improvements and do you think that anyone would suggest that the TJPD alone would foot the bill? You didn’t hear any grumblings the first time and you probably won’t when the next fix comes along.
    UVa does have some bearing on the argument, as the locality it lies in gains the most from it’s inclusion, yet all taxpayers help fund it. No matter what the state entity, every locality in the state (via their Rep.) has the right to legislate for or against it and for the funding appropriated it. That isn’t arrogance- that is legislation. Arrogance is assuming that everything within the confines of the TJPD is in existence for the sole purpose of benefiting only the residents within the TJPD- and that is often how the anti-bypass bypass folks sound.
    I guess if you step back, everyone involved must seem arrogant to the opposition!

  17. Tom, what would you do with this dichotomy? Prohibit development along 29 for a span of perhaps 30 miles north of Charlottesville and clear south to Lynchburg, or build a bypass that runs that entire distance, throughout which development would be prohibited?

    Or do you think that’s a false dichotomy?

  18. My original post simply refuted the notion that the “poor folks down south” need to twist the arm of the folks in Cville so that a bypass bypass can be built, thus improving the economy and making Lynchburg viable again. As you know, that is utter nonsense, and when I see that idea conveyed, I like to poke a bit!

    The idea of a some kind of limited access route around Cville isn’t a bad idea, is one that most people I work with in the area support, and is an idea that will probably come to fruition, in some form, in the future. As for all or nothing, the argument doesn’t fly- no access is not even an option, as is no development. It seems as though Shannon’s bill would have created a situation in which VDOT would be able to disallow access, creating limited access- which is not a bad idea- and is probably the direction that legislators to the south of Cville would like. After all, if Albemarle had more foresight, they might have pursued a limited access route in place of Seminole Trl. and would have interchanges and feeder roads at major intersections. What is there now is a ridiculous 6-8 lane moving parking lot loaded with cars running at the lowest level of efficiency possible.

    Good thing that I don’t have to come up with a remedy, and in 20 years, when traffic has again reached a high water mark, it won’t be me who suffers the effects. I’ll be riding the train.

  19. re: Lynchburg’s “business”.

    Did I read that the Lynchburg MPO wanted the Charlottesville MPO disbanded because of their refusal to support a 29 bypass?

    no? yes?

    so .. if that is true, would we not consider that to at least border.. a tad on arrogance?


  20. In terms of tolls to generate money for new transportation improvements – you cannot easily toll most roads that are not limited access.

    So that leaves the roads that are – and I would bet that Route 29 down Lynchburg/Danville way would turn into a ghost road if it were tolled.


  21. Get out much Larry? Why don’t you drive that southern stretch and make that judgment for yourself. About two thirds (or more) is limited access and it seems to have a decent amount of traffic. True, people tend to avoid tolls… initially; the convenience is often worth the cost (i.e. Rt 895 in Richmond).

    You might as well give up on your arrogance argument. Having spent much time in both Charlottesville and Lynchburg over the last 22 years, it sounds like the pot calling the kettle black

  22. Rt 29 is my favorite road to NC – Seven Lakes.

    I travel it several times a year and I am very familiar with the length of it including the part above Charlottesville.

    The newer limited access parts are interstate-like and are much better than I-95 in part because they are very lightly traveled and to be honest a lot less trucks.

    (and yes, Lynchburg benefits from our travels that way).

    but there are many parts of Rt 29 that have a lot of curb cuts (beyond Charlottesville) – down near Greensboro for instance and the parts just south of Lynchburg has a fair amount of curb cuts, median cross-overs and traffic signals.

    It would take an enormous amount of time and money to make Rt 29 an Interstate and it would take the full resources of the Federal and State Government in terms of money and imminent domain to reduce the number of access points…

    I doubt seriously that the state (or the Feds) are going to have the resources to do something about Ch’ville but also Greensboro… which.. while not as congested as C’ville.. is very congested at times and has quite a bit of side road traffic coming onto it and exited off of it.

    I just have my doubt that trying to retrofit Rt 29 to an Interstate is feasible.

    and I don’t live in Cville.. I just think it is rather presumptuous to have the MPO of Lynchburg try to have the MPO in another community disbanded because they don’t agree with that MPO.

    How would Lynchburg like Roanoke or Danville tell them how to do business?

  23. “Rex Hammond, president of the Lynchburg chamber, described the Charlottesville Metropolitan Organization as “a rogue” and a “renegade” group that for 18 years has sat on $50 million in federal highway money intended for planning and right-of-way purchases.

    During that time, the Charlottesville MPO has found reason after reason to resist moving forward with a bypass that would take through traffic off a main thoroughfare jammed with traffic lights and shopping centers. New development north of the city only further clogs traffic on the heavily traveled roadway.

    During that same time, transportation officials in Danville, Lynchburg and Amherst, Culpeper and Warrenton managed to find a way to build bypasses on U.S. 29 that would move traffic around their communities in an orderly and efficient fashion.

    Both Lynchburg and Danville chambers of commerce are frustrated that the state has not exerted more pressure on Charlottesville to begin construction on a bypass for that city. They believe that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and the Federal Highway Administration should be putting more pressure on Charlottesville to begin moving ahead with a bypass.

    How much more pressure? A letter from Hammond to Kaine written in early October did not disguise the chamber’s frustrations. “We believe more than ever that the solution is to remove the MPO and for you to appoint an independent body that will immediately begin work on plans for the U.S. 29 bypass of Charlottesville,” the letter said in part.”

  24. The planning district that includes Lynchburg (Region 2000?) is already pursuing a new limited access alignment of US 29 from the Lynchburg Airport to a connection just north of Bus 29 in Altavista and NC has plans to address that 10 mile section just north of Greensboro (hence the future I-785 designation), but they seem to be loooong range plans. Of course, all this will be pushed even that much more into the future due to our country’s debt spending induced recession/depression.

  25. On the other hand, that might be just the sort of project that will take place as a result of that spending. After all, spending $50M on a road might be a small price to pay for $250M in economic activity. (Disclaimer: I totally made those numbers up. :)

  26. If VDOT and the Feds were truly interested in Interstate Designation – they’d be coordinating it with NC and a unified schedule with funding commitments to move forward.

    I’m convinced that what VDOT is doing is “listening” and little more since their funding is gone and the Feds will be also unless they reauthorize SAFETEA next fall.

    I think Lynchburg would do well to concentrate on the things that they have direct control over and to stop chewing on the Cville bone.

  27. I thought that I had heard that the price tag for a potential Cville bypass …exceeded $300 million.


    If so.. then Lynchburg should come up with at least $150 million of it.

    I’ll bet if Lynchburg offered Cville 150 million in transportation dollars.. somebody would listen…

  28. Yeah, that’s a good idea Larry. We can rename the road LC 29- you know- for Lynchburg City. After all, what’s a US highway anyway. Frankly, the issue is pretty much moot at this point. Your argument about who should fund a US highway in Charlottesville isn’t even worth responding to. Regional funding for roads has already gone to vote and localities in VA can’t even raise their own taxes to fund their own roads.

    By the way- unified schedules of interstate development might have been the norm back in Eisenhower’s day, but do a little research on I-73 and you’ll see that your assumption about coordinated funding and scheduling of new roads is incorrect.

  29. You know there are LOTS of U.S. signed highways that are NOT interstates ..were never designed to be interstates in the first place and very few, if any were converted in-place to be interstates.

    Many had bypasses built around them as a result of the locality “using” the original road as a economic development venue – which we know is fundamentally incompatible with the essential purpose of a road and which we now understand with the phrase “Access Management” which is, if you think about it, the process of attempting to remove curb-cuts and close median cross-overs and reduce traffic signals .. all of that – why?

    because we know that attempting to use a road for local business venues is not a good thing.

    Virtually every locality including Lynchburg and Charlottesville have been guilty of it – and truly unless FHWA or VDOT put their foot down – they’d still be doing it.. and then advocating that the State taxpayers build them a bypass – as opposed to the locality being directly responsible for managing land use and transportation and not expecting the rest of Va taxpayers to build them new roads because they did not adequately preserve and protect their existing roads.

    So Lynchburg and area got a bunch of money that they did not generate locally – and they were lucky enough to have available open space to run a new road – and not have to attempt to run it through Liberty University or other major existing development.

    The problem with Cville is that they are bigger and further along on existing development and finding an acceptable bypass route has been more than a little difficult.

    No one wants that bypass to come through their property and so they band together to exert political pressure… on their local politicians… something I’m sure that Lynchburg would never stoop to – right?

    At any rate, if the State of Virginia was truly serious about Rt-29, they’d step in and designate a bypass corridor and the Cville MPO other than complaining a lot .. would have a reduced role by virtue of the fact that the State and the Feds have determined that such a bypass is in the best interests of the State – even if – at the expense of those in the path of a bypass.

    So Lynchburg is being a bit stoooopid.. blaming the Cville MPO in the first place..and attempting to intervene in the affairs of another city because they think the other city is not being operated correctly – on the excuse that – that city affects Lynchburg…

    go to the State.. convince the State that Rt 29 is important to the State.. and stop messing with Cville which makes Lynchburg look like a bunch of rubes… who don’t know how to mind their own business.

    In other words, don’t flaunt your lack of understanding of how the road-building process actually works and spare yourselves the spectacle of showing everyone else that you think you know Cvilles business better than they do.

    Lynchburg is becoming the city version of Forest Gump – stoopid is as stupid does… IMHO

  30. Larry- lets start at the beginning. Go back and read my first post. You are stooping to personal attacks based on an argument that is one-sided. I’ve only stated fact, but you seem to get fired up by your own opinions. I don’t see anything that you’ve written here that indicates a knowledge of highway development or even of solid research on the subject. Worse yet, you make false statements (Charlottesville is bigger and farther along?)to support your opinion.
    Maybe you should start with using Google.

  31. Oh you caught me …thoroughly into “tweak” mode.

    I do not claim to be a professional when it comes to VDOT and roads but I do know a fair amount more than the average person.. i.e. stuff like how the 6yr plan works, the 3202 legislation, the NEPA laws, etc, etc.

    I don’t think I made any “personal” (ad hominem) attacks.

    If you feel that I did.. point them out.. and I will apologize for sure.

    What has me spun up is the temerity of folks in Lynchburg to presume to tell Cville how to do business and to advocate that their MPO be denied it’s role. Since MPOs are run by elected officials, what this amounts to is Lynchburg advocating that Cville’s elected officials be un-elected in effect.

    This takes a helluva lot of chutzpa IMHO.

    It really does not have – at it’s core – that much to do with highways and transportation.

    And the remarks about UVA and it’s involvement in Cville reveals further envy.

    What I won’t apologize for – is pointing out Lynchburgs behavior in this – the facts are clear on that part.

  32. Fair enough. We could probably have a good lively, respectful conversation on the matter in person. Sorry to get you into “tweak” mode!

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