New Coalition Launches in Charlottesville to Oppose Current Route 29 Western Bypass Design

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Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition to call for analysis of alternatives and increased citizen activism.

Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition

What our Coalition and our community needs is mass participation in opposing this process and demanding consideration of alternatives to the current Western Bypass design.

A new grassroots coalition was formally launched in Charlottesville today, designed to unite concerned citizens and energize new constituencies to demand full and transparent analysis of alternatives to the proposed design of the Route 29 Western Bypass. The Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition will immediately work to counter misleading claims from Bypass proponents about popular support for the current design, as well as highlight anew threats posed by the design and drive visibility for existing alternative concepts to reducing traffic congestion along Route 29.

Nora Seilheimer, a native resident of Charlottesville and parent of two school-aged children, is spearheading the organization of the Coalition. “What our Coalition and our community needs is mass participation in opposing this process and demanding consideration of alternatives to the current Western Bypass design,” said Seilheimer. “The fact that our locally elected representatives would allow VDOT and a multi-national construction company to change the character of our community, just because hard-earned taxpayer dollars suddenly appeared to build something deemed unnecessary and inappropriate for decades, is completely unconscionable.”

“We need people to join our movement and show the Federal Highway Administration and statewide governing bodies that the current plan is fatally flawed,” continued Seilheimer. “We will also be organizing as we move toward Election Day, to ensure that voters hold accountable those who continue to ignore the truth that alternatives to the current Bypass design could yield similar or better results at less cost to taxpayers and with less impact on the long-term environmental quality and character of our world-renowned community.”

The Coalition is leveraging social media to effectively and efficiently build and inform its growing audience. The Coalition provides a virtual news channel for real-time developments, clear and vetted facts about the proposed design, and calls-to-action related to the federal and state approval process. The Coalition is also looking ahead to the fall elections, with the potential to mobilize support and resources to hold local officials accountable for their actions, and inaction, regarding the advancement of the project. Citizens interested in joining the Coalition can do so online in seconds.

The Coalition’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/bypasstruth) and website (http://www.bypasstruth.com) are the digital hubs for the movement. The Coalition will now reach out to groups concerned about the potential negative effects of the proposed design on local primary and secondary schools, the Rivanna Reservoir and other natural resources, historic sites, and communities of homeowners representing thousands of local families.

Basing the Coalition’s activities in social media also provides a tangible opportunity for younger generations to engage in local policy, especially as young families led by Generation X and Millennial parents have significant health and other risks to consider with the proposed Bypass coming within 1,800 feet of six local schools: Agnor Hurt Elementary School, Albemarle High School, Ivy Creek School, Jack Jouett Middle School, Mary Greer Elementary School, and St. Anne’s-Belfield School.

In the weeks ahead, the Coalition will also highlight questionable benefit of the proposed Bypass with regards to alleviating traffic congestion on Route 29, major safety and efficiency concerns with both as-yet-unresolved terminus designs, and the complete lack of transparency regarding the design-build process and total anticipated cost to taxpayers.

The Coalition is also preparing to reach out to citizens groups elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in areas such as Manassas and Norfolk that are facing similarly rushed and permanently disruptive projects. While the core concern remains a focus on developments in Charlottesville, an opportunity exists to unite concerned citizens across the Commonwealth.

To learn more about the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition, visit and “like” the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bypasstruth. The Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition is also online at http://www.bypasstruth.com.

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Steve Bowers
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