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Re: “Bypassing Sense

This is truly an eye-opening article by Randy Salzman. Without a doubt, our area has been shortchanged on transportation money from the state. I can understand how many people feel that we have to take the money that the state is offering us now and run with it, so that we don't lose it (and whatever advantage it will bring us).

When I look at the numbers, though, I become more convinced that by being fiscally conservative, I need to really look at the facts. The building of a $240-million highway in Albemarle County when it provides only $8 million in public benefits.... when it will only save truckers a minute off the full-day drive to New York is not a good use of federal and state funds.

According to recent reports, VDOT states that it will run out of funding for new construction by 2017 unless law makers create more funding from sales tax revenues. However, the costs of building this highway will escalate because the present design is not being realistically reported. Skanska-Branch’s $135.9 million bid for constructing the “Western Bypass”, which puts 18-wheelers onto the UVA Campus, from an 11.4 percent grade – steeper than all but one of Colorado’s 35 mountain passes – will now likely not be built, as more groups, such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Highways Administration realize that there are many problems with the initial design bid (eg. the bad southern terminus design and now the African American cemetery in its path).

New change orders are already being identified; for example, on only the Southern Terminus of the highway, and this will add at least millions to the project. And the fact is that this money simply does not, and will not, exist, explains former CTB member Jim Rich. With the existing proposal tying up half of the entire amount projected for the local transportation district through 2050, there is no chance other communities in the district will support giving even more money to Albemarle County.

“Not only is this ($244 million) a colossal waste of taxpayer money from which any fiscal conservative should recoil,” Rich writes in an opinion piece in Charlottesville’s The Hook, “but it has also been documented that this so-called bypass proposal would do significant harm to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community by claiming 40 homes by eminent domain, adversely impacting another 1,500 homes, harming six schools and 4,000 school children, causing substantial damage to the University of Virginia and, according to some Albemarle supervisors, resulting in the greatest destruction of property values in Albemarle history.”

Jim Rich, is a 20-year member of the state Republican Party Executive Committee, and he writes. “As a conservative pro-free enterprise Virginian very concerned about the deficit and the economic future of our country, how could I sit there (on the CTB) and rubber stamp bad policy?”

How can this be justified now, in light of the monetary facts?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by ellyt on 03/02/2013 at 10:40 AM

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