I attended last night’s discussion of the
Ruckersville Parkway held by Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population. All three of the Parkway’s proponents presented: former Delegate Mitch Van Yahres, Bern Ewert, a candidate seeking nomination for the upcoming Fifth District race for the US House of Representatives, and local architect Gary Okerlund.
The initial presentation went over a lot of facts already publicly available. They are no longer giving a cost estimate. Previously they were suggesting it would be in the ballpark of $140,000,000. The speakers pointed out that the Ruckersville Parkway’s right of way is one hundred feet, compared with the Western Bypass’s purchased right of way of three hundred feet.
Mr. Ewert pointed out that an important part of this concept is its environmental appeal. Because of the lower speed, environmental impacts will be reduced by 90% as compared to the Western Bypass, due to less grading. An Environmental Impact Statement will be necessary if the design proceeds.
Some interesting issues came up during the question and answer period. There was major confusion on all sides over how residents on Earlysville and Route 743 will be affected. Residents expressed concerns about the extra traffic and loss of property that they believe the project would bring. The group hopes that by taking the Parkway to the next step of a study, where it can be refined, these problems will be better understood and corrected. My understanding of the plan (see map at right) is that it will essentially create a bypass around the denser areas of Earlysville Road, potentially easing congestion by routing traffic around it.
Mr. Ewert cited a figure of 1,000 new homes approved in the Ruckersville area as a motivating factor for the Ruckersville Parkway. An audience member asked whether Ruckersville would be less desirable for growth without the Ruckersville Parkway. Mr. Van Yahres replied that the growth is "inevitable."
One of the audience members pointed out a potential conflict of interest for former Deputy City Manager Bern Ewert, who has announced his candidacy for the House of Representatives seat currently held by Virgil Goode. ASAP President Jack Marshall clarified that Mitch Van Yahres was asked to speak on the issue, who then invited Bern Ewert and Gary Okerlund to join him. Mr. Ewert said that he thought of the idea for the Ruckersville Parkway before he decided to run for election.
Potential damage to the Ivy Creek Natural Area near the reservoir concerned another member of the audience. Mr. Ewert said that the park will not be affected.
The Ruckersville Parkway will be further evaluated as part of the Places29 master planning process. Charlottesville Tomorrow will continue to report on any developments. The Daily Progress coverage of last night's event is here.
(Proponents of the Ruckersville Parkway, from left: Mitch Van Yahres, Bern Ewert, and Gary Okerlund)