12, 298

Claudius Crozet attended himself to present the final number.

The readers of the summer reading program at the Western Albemarle-Crozet Library read a record number of books this year- 12,298 an increase of 3000 books read by over 600 readers, up from 400 readers in 2010.

Wendy Saz and her wonderful staff of library leaders have welcomed all residents to their tiny library, all 1700 sq feet of it.

The plans for the new library should be complete during late August and ready for public inspection and board discussion of cost inĀ  September. The library design executive committee will be meeting soon as well. Then comes the challenge of persuading the Board of Supervisors that building the library will be the best investment of 2011 for the County.

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MPO votes in haste for Western Bypass on July 27

After the premature vote on Wednesday night, there is more work to do.

This is not over. In my opinion the MPO made a huge mistake voting for the change in the TIP without communication with their Board and Council as well as attorney assistance to make the conditions as bullet proof and enforceable as possible. We have time in the next two weeks to serve our community better. I cannot look away now.

I hope that citizens will speak out at the Aug 3 Board of Supervisors meeting under matters from the public, or via phone or email to bos@albemarle.org, to demand that the BOS direct the MPO reps to fix the conditions, to detail our list in the TIP change and get an MOU as suggested by Jim Utterbach himself.

The actions last evening, against the recommendations of staff to postpone the vote on the change to the TIP until proper language could be prepared, were grievously destructive to our community process and well being. The county reps turned their backs on their city colleagues, who were right in demanding time to think over a contract as huge and consequential as this one. The MPO majority lost a chance to handle the process correctly and help citizens feel that transparency and good government prevailed, despite the decision made. There is certainly no claim to that now. The VDOT rep himself said he was surprised at the content of the letter, having been part of the discussion at the CTB where other members understood the need to improve conditions on the 29 core as well.

After all, with any zoning change, if there is language in the conditions which needs fixing, we return to the process at a later meeting after the proper changes have been made and approved for legality and enforceability. Why would we not do this for a change this huge?

As Mac Lafferty, vice-chair of the CHART committee who develops the long range plan, said, why is it wrong that the city council and board of supervisors would want to study, understand and agree to the next step in this process? It is not wrong, it is essential.

Yet the MPO reps don’t want to listen and to learn, they “want their lives back,” as did the chairman of BP just after the oil spill in the Gulf. They should not cling to their MPO positions if they are unwilling to do the work required.

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MPO Vote Concerns

I have just learned that information has been obtained Tuesday from VDOT but is not being released by the MPO chair. I have demanded release of that information immediately.

I hope you have read my letter to the editor with Dennis Rooker a week ago about our views of the current bypass resurgence. Some road supporters have complained that it is old information, but the information is still accurate and complete, as opposed to the incomplete assurances which are being offered today for local projects.

As you may expect there has been an outpouring of concern about the speed toward approval and lack of new information on the proposed bypass, about the process of coercion from the state, which has starved our local transportation budget for several years to create the desperation we now feel, and about the design and location of the proposed road. Why should we destroy such a swath of developed neighborhoods and school environment for a few minutes gain on a connector road? The current design will increase the traffic issues at each end, in places where there is considerable congestion and level of accidents today.

Many of you have emphasized the long term health effects on our school children of the truck traffic near the school grounds, on top of the noise distraction which will interfere with learning. The residential neighbors will suffer the same fates. We should not, knowingly, put our residents in harms way.

I am not in favor of this change in our long range plan and definitely NOT in favor of changing the TIP or transportation improvement program funding list. If the MPO votes to make that change, without the local roads promised voted into the state TIP and investment begun, we may lose all our local funds and get only the bypass and the widening. Those two parts alone will not solve our problem and will create more.

Since there has been no memo from VDOT as promised, how can we know what we will receive? Why should we give up our small leverage without it? How can any offer from VDOT and the CTB be enforced? How can our citizens be protected?

New engineering information indicates that building the bypass will make a Berkmar Extended unfeasible, due to the expensive flyovers or intersections necessary to cross the bypass.

We have seen no design for the northern end. What will be the effect on Forest Lakes and Ashwood Blvd? What contract or MOU do we have to prove that VDOT means what it promises? Future politicians may force the VDOT staff to rescind their offers.

I am unable to be at the meeting Wednesday, but four of the board members will be in attendance. I have written my concerns to them, just as you have. Thank you for your attention to this matter. The citizen participation on this issue has been the major factor over the years to bring good government and good process to road building.

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Jacob’s Run bridge on Advance Mills Road to be replaced

In October 2011, the 1984 wooden bridge over Jacob’s Run, 2 miles south of the Advance Mills Bridge, will close for four months. The new bridge will be a concrete box structure and will be 24 feet wide, a large improvement for safety on the corner. The wooden bridge is splintering and the concrete is cracking. The curve in the roadway will be straightened with this rebuild, according to VDOT.

Northbound Travelers will detour northwest on Buck Mountain Road to Buffalo River and Frays Mountain Road to returnĀ  to Advance Mills north of the reconstruction project. The detour is about 9 miles.

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The U.S. 29 Western Bypass: Why the road shouldn’t be built

Dennis Rooker and Ann Mallek explain why the short western bypass is obsolete, a waste of taxpayer money (and a considerable loss of tax revenue to the county), and would cause excessive degradation of neighborhoods and environment. Published in the Daily Progress on July 10, 2011:

The U.S. 29 Western Bypass: Why the road shouldn’t be built

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