From the Editor: What Bypass?

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What Bypass?

The decision to pursue the old Rt. 29 bypass plan is a travesty of democratic process, from the Supervisors’ unannounced midnight vote to reopen a long dead issue to the virtual contempt shown to diligent citizens at the public hearing, and should raise everyone’s anxiety about the loyalty of our supervisors to the constituents who elect them.

The current bypass design is clearly obsolete and barely gets halfway around the congestion and traffic lights on Rt. 29. Any road around Charlottesville that does not also get around what’s happened in Ruckersville simply misses the point. But to do that, a real bypass would have to be twice as long and presumably twice as expensive. Second, to say you know what the current design will cost when its northern end has not been engineered is a joke. Whatever we are getting ourselves into, we can be sure it will cost far more than the numbers so cavalierly tossed about by our state transportation officials. At this point we should accept our losses on an out-of-date plan. We have some unfinished canals on the James River to catch up too, for that matter.

One gets the strong impression that the resurrection of the bypass issue is at the instigation of state officials who are carrying water for fellow Virginians in Lynchburg and Danville who are annoyed at the inconvenience of getting through Charlottesville, as if a bypass here is the solution to economic development goals in Southside. We elect our supervisors to accomplish what we think is good for us, not for people in distant jurisdictions. If we don’t want the road, too bad for them. Would they want us to usurp their authority in their locality? Would we want to force other places to do things they think are wrong for them? This is very treacherous ground for a democracy to tread on.

We have county magisterial districts and local decision-making so that, as free-born American citizens, we have a plausible chance of influencing what happens where we live. Supervisors who act against the clear will of the majority of their constituents are treating their neighbors as enemies and not as their public responsibility. Woe to us if this keeps up, as there are many bad things we don’t want to happen.