Charlottesville area Supervisors shoot down city effort to delay bypass

Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos failed Wednesday in an attempt to get the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s policy board to take a new position on the Western Bypass of U.S. 29.

“I would like to make a motion that we call on the state to wait until previous studies are reviewed and the environmental review is complete and traffic modeling is conducted before proceeding on the contract to build [the bypass],” Szakos said.

Albemarle Supervisors Duane Snow and Rodney S. Thomas voted against the resolution, while Szakos voted for it. Though he seconded the motion, City Councilor Satyendra Huja left the meeting before a vote was taken. Virginia Department of Transportation administrator James Utterback abstained.

Snow pointed out that Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution earlier this month.

“We decided that the contract could be awarded but we asked that the construction hold off until the studies were completed,” Snow said.

Because the project was dormant for many years, the Federal Highway Administration is reviewing previous approvals to see if they are still valid. That process will likely not conclude until at least the end of September 2012.

This week, VDOT issued a request for proposals for a contractor to both design and build the 6.24-mile, four-lane divided highway through Albemarle County. The lowest bid will be selected by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June.