Monday, December 17, 2007

Ruckersville Interstate-Like Access At Rts. 29x33?

Greene is growing and we must make accomodations. It's interesting, according to the article below (from the week of 12/6/07), Senator Emmett Hanger believes the intersection of Routes 29 and 33 should be changed to interstate-like access, with an overpass bridge and on the side, service roads.

Board to take up US 29 rezoning request

Record Reporter
December 6, 2007

With the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reporting an annual average traffic volume of 29,000 last year on the portion of Route 29 that runs through Greene, the County's Board of Supervisors will be considering a request for rezoning at its Tuesday, December 11, that has at least two members concerned.

Shortly before the Board deferred making a decision on the request at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, November 27, Board member Jeri Allen said that granting it could lead to a "massively complicated intersection."

The intersection under discussion is that of U.S. Route 29 North and Lake Saponi Drive, just north of the Albemarle County line and south of Tierney Plaza, home to Best Western Charlottesville Airport Inn & Suites.

Siblings Stewart and Kevin Wood and their sisters, Sharon Lloyd and Vicki Hendrix want to rezone from A-1 agricultural to B-3 business -- and then sell, the 3.2 acres they inherited at that location. They all live out of County.

The problem, said Allen, is there is no crossover from U.S. Route 29 South to Lake Saponi Drive. And Bart Svoboda, the County's zoning administrator, says VDOT is "indicating" that there is not going to be one.

"It is a bad situation getting in and out on (Route) 29. I can't support it," Board member Patsy Morris said at the Board's November 27 meeting about the rezoning request.

In order to ease the problem of access, "We do have a potential connection through Tierney Plaza," Svoboda said. The Fried Companies (owners of the Plaza) has reserved an area that we can get through."

That means that traffic traveling south on Route 29 would have to cross the northbound lane at the crossover leading to Tierney Plaza and from there cut across to Lake Saponi Drive - on an access way yet to be constructed.

But businesses that locate on the parcel might attract heavy traffic.

Business uses permitted along the business highways and high density zones the County has deemed "B-3" include: vehicle sales, service and rental businesses, vehicle repair garages, vehicle parts stores, highway retail service centers and truck stops, bus, truck and taxi terminals, hotels and motels, equipment sales and repair shops, drive-up restaurants, building material sales, service contractors and convenience stores.

The applicants have proffered the exclusion of day care and child care facilities, laundry services, highway retail service centers, truck stops, bus, truck and taxi terminals, fuel distribution centers and temporary fireworks outlets on the parcel.

But: "If you add a drive-in restaurant or convenience store traffic to the Lake Saponi traffic coming out against northbound traffic from Charlottesville and crossing traffic into the Hotel and out of the Hotel, it becomes very congested or potentially very congested with high traffic business use. I would be in favor of this, but that is a very complicated entrance," Allen said.

An upcoming $1.5 million VDOT study covering United States Route 29 from Interstate 66 to Amherst County was announced in June. In early August, the Council invited John J. "Butch" Davies III, Greene's representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board to speak to its members on anticipated transportation changes in Greene.

The study, Davies told Council members, will be looking at Route 29 "to bring it up to Interstate standards all the way from Gainesville to south of Charlottesville.

But in the meantime, Davies talked traffic lights.

"You have Best Western … you're (probably) going to see … a traffic light there. You've got the traffic light now at 607. You're going to see one, I think, at Deer Drive. The folks at Buck Drive clearly have trouble getting out. Where Bank of America is I think … there's a probability," Davies told Council members.

Davies continued: "The Route 29 corridor (has) become the primary access because of the increase in volume coming off the secondary roads. When that volume hits a certain point, you're getting those traffic lights. And if you don't think it isn't going to be frustrating for the commuters going into Charlottesville it is absolutely going to drive people crazy five, eight, ten years from now.

"Greene County has had significant development," Davies added. "The assumption has been that 29 will handle the traffic ... if developers are going to add projects that are going to add to the (traffic) burden they have to help create solutions. They can contribute improvements, they can contribute money, and they can contribute to the study."

Davies says that once the study starts, meetings will be held: "All counties affected will have input into the study. We're asking people to tell us what they want."

Senator Emmett Hanger has said that he will become involved in discussions concerning Route 29 "because I am concerned about what is going to happen with the development around there."

Hanger has said "I really believe (the intersection of Routes) 29 and 33 needs to be converted into an interstate style access, where you have an overpass bridge and where you have service roads on the side. If not, you're going to cause a huge problem there. Traffic will back up all the way into Emmett Street in Charlottesville," Hanger added.

At the November 27 meeting, Board Vice-chairman Buggs Peyton and member Mickey Cox voiced concerns about the rezoning, particularly with the issue of buffers.

Board Chairman Steve Catalano said: "This is in the business growth (area). It is surrounded by business growth and an appropriate use for business growth. The fact that the crossover is not there will limit the traffic. There is the possibility of inter-parcel access with the parcel next door."

Catalano noted that buffers and other concerns were addressed in County ordinances.

Catalano also said, "I'm willing to support the application. I think it's an appropriate use of property given what is happening around it and it is … supported by our comprehensive plan."

Peyton made a motion to defer. Catalano set December 11 as the date for the request to be heard again, and the vote to do so was unanimous.


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