Congestion: It’s Not Just for NOVA Anymore

congestion.jpgEvery few months I drive from Arlington down to Charlottesville for meetings of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at their headquarters next to the Boar’s Head Inn. I always allow myself enough time to deal with the random delays that crop up when you’re trying to put Northern Virginia in your rear view mirror, and I’ve never been late for a meeting. Until last week. I escaped from Area Code 703 without incident; the hangup was in AC 434. Things may be changing in Charlottesville, and not for the better.

It took me nearly 1/2 hour to go the final mile on 29 South and get onto 250 West. As is so often the case in NOVA, there was no visible source for the backup: no overturned SUV in the median, no burning tourist bus at the side of the road. I’d like to chalk the delay up to holiday shopping or some event at The University, but the next morning a woman approaching from the west was 1/2 hour late due to a similar experience. Some incident on I-64 sent traffic cascading over onto local roads, causing gridlock that would do Tysons Corner proud.

There are those who see Charlottesville as a kind of Little City In The Bubble, magically sealed off from the indignities of urban life such as highway noise walls, Fuddruckers, — and congestion. Those days of innocence may be coming to an end. Sorry, Charlottesville, but welcome to America, and the real world of Virginia. 



8 thoughts on “Congestion: It’s Not Just for NOVA Anymore”

  1. There have been three or four incidents on 64 in the past 12 months that have caused this type of congestion. It serves as the occasional example of what the worst-case scenario could be if nothing is done.

  2. You know, revisiting Waldo’s post from July got me thinking. Lots of interesting comments on there. But we have a REAL problem in this state. A very Us vs. Them problem of the North vs. Everyone Else.

    It’s not healthy. I took a training class out in Herndon a few months ago and had to travel from Mount Vernon to Herndon, mostly via the Fairfax County Parkway. It was a hard trip.

    In that class, I met two gentlemen from Circuit City, one of whom was a stereotypcial southern VA middle-aged angry white man. We got to talking about the problems of NoVA as I explained how tough and unpredicatble the trip up to Herndon was. I pondered why it is NoVA can’t get the resources from the state it needs to create some better transportation solutions–because it CAN be done.

    Well, he launched into one of the most vile and hateful tirades against NoVA I’d ever witnessed, ranting about how we need to ban people from moving to NoVA and he’s so sick of paying more taxes so they can go to NoVA—oh how misinformed was he! It was then that I realized that we have a huge problem and disconnect in this state when there is so much animosity toward Virginia’s “breadbasket” of NoVA.

    The truth is, we need each other, and can benefit from the strengths of each other as Chap’s post the other day pointed to—our regions need to work together to solve each others’ problems.

    And needless to say, my anti-NoVA friend got a piece of my mind back about how maybe we’re sick of bankrolling the rest of the state and getting scoff in return. However, I couldn’t let it end without making the point that working together we’d be much stronger for all.

    He seemed to agree but retained his hostility.

    I’m sure he’s spitting made

  3. Oops hit send before I finished the last sentence….

    I’m sure he’s spitting mad over the Webb-Allen race because he was obviously a conservative Republican and saw NoVA as enemy territory. But we must somehow again find a political debate that can transcend this division so we recognize what we have in common and need to work together to achieve.

  4. The vast majority of C’ville’s traffic woes can be attributed to the city’s refusal to allow two major road projects to go through: The 29 bypass and the Meadowcreek Parkway. The absence of those two roads means exactly one thing – every vehicle trying to get through C’ville MUST drive into the heart of the area’s worst congestion.

    Both roads were signed, sealed, funded, and ready to be delivered. And both were grounded to a halt by anti-growth forces in C’ville.

    Way to go, Charlottesville. Reap what you sow.

  5. Now, J. Marks — you’re over-simplifying. Actually, neither road was “signed, sealed, and funded.” And it may be a small matter to you, but for us locals, it matters a lot — Charlottesville has been the hold-up on the Meadowcreek Parkway (concerns about parkland and about funneling all that traffic onto a road that itself funnels into a black residential neighborhood on Ridge Street)), but Albemarle County has been the hold-up on the 29 Bypass (it would go through or close to a rich folks’ neighborhood, and through the reservoir that furnishes all of our water).

    Part of the problem has been that Charlottesville and Albemarle have been unable to agree on ONE plan that they are willing to fund and actually build.

    Had either road been “signed, sealed and funded” in the 1980’s, or the 1970’s when they had first been proposed, they would have been built. Of course, had the bypass been built, it would by now require a bypass of the bypass. Now the Commonwealth Transportation Board has pretty much said that they 29 bypass CAN’T be funded.

  6. I *am* a local, cvllelaw, and the neighborhood in Albemarle you’re speaking of isn’t considered a “rich folks'” neighborhood by anyone I know. The reservoir argument was always a load of crap — perpetuated by the same anti-growth (“more roads just mean more traffic”) kooks on City Council.

    I agree that the proposed bypass was WAY too short, as its northern terminus was south of the airport. But while perhaps the original one, planned a generation ago, can’t be funded, a smarter can, and eventually will, be built — once the rest of the state gets sick of the Cville bottleneck when trying to get through the area.

  7. I’m not sure exactly which “anti-growth… kooks on City Council” J. Marks is talking about. I don’t remember any members of Charlottesville’s City Council making any statements opposing the 29 by-pass. Perhaps J. Marks could refresh my (all-too failing) memory by naming names?

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