New Travel Time Analysis of Bypass Seriously Flawed
The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement today in response to a press release issued by the Free Enterprise Forum discussing a travel time analysis of the proposed Charlottesville bypass:
The traffic analysis the Free Enterprise Forum released today is at odds with the findings of every traffic analysis of the 29 corridor done over the past 25 years. The analysis has not been publicly vetted, and the assumptions underlying the data are sketchy. But one significant shortcoming is readily apparent— it compares building the proposed bypass to making no major improvements to Route 29, when no one is arguing for doing nothing.
To the contrary, the County’s Places29 master plan, which it developed working closely with VDOT and the MPO, focuses on a set of key improvements to 29 to make traffic flow, including fixing the chokepoints at the Rio/29 and Hydraulic/29 intersections. Yet the comparison the Free Enterprise Forum has released assumes no fixes to either of those intersections while at the same time acknowledging that they are the two major bottlenecks in the corridor. So of course the bypass looks good when compared to doing nothing at Rio and Hydraulic. The picture would look quite different if the proposed bypass were compared to a real alternative. Indeed, when VDOT analyzed the bypass two years ago, it found that an overpass would cut delays at the congested Rio/29 intersection by nearly 3.5 minutes—more than 4 times the savings the bypass would offer there.
The analysis released by the Forum also ignores the important point that the bypass would make traffic worse above the northern terminus and below the southern terminus by dumping more cars and trucks into two areas of serious congestion, including the dangerous intersection of Ashwood/29. The analysis completely fails to assess the impact the increased congestion in those areas would have on travel times.
Releasing this new, unvetted and cherry-picked data just prior to a public hearing is clearly an attempt at a “Hail Mary” by bypass supporters hoping to keep the bypass proposal alive.