Good news, bad news about West End traffic

Story by Chris Graham

Lost in the discussion over the merits of the Waynesboro Place rezoning and its potential impact on traffic in the already-congested Lew Dewitt Boulevard-Rosser Avenue-Windigrove Drive area – the part about traffic in that part of town already being congested.

“It doesn’t function to Level C that VDOT would like it to now at the peak. That’s a key distinction. If you’re going to design just for peak and level of service for peak, you’re going to have a lot of asphalt out there. And from an urban planner’s standpoint, we can almost end up overdesigning intersections to meet VDOT’s minimum peak standards. You have to balance everything, and the costs associated with it,” City Planner Michael Barnes said.

Traffic congestion is a direct function of the increased economic activity in the Lew Dewitt-Rosser-Windigrove area dating back to the 2004 grand opening of the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in the West End and the flood of commercial development that followed. The good news is that the Waynesboro economy has nearly doubled in size in the past seven years as a result of the development spurt. The bad news comes in the form of the frustration that we sometimes have to endure trying to get to where we’re going.

More bad news in that respect could cancel out the good news.

“Waynesboro is in a very interesting situation here as a city because that area is a major cash cow for tax revenue. That’s the interesting dynamic in this,” Barnes said.

And the cash cow, such as it is, is the result of the West End having become a center for regional commerce pulling in shoppers from Waynesboro, Stuarts Draft and over the Blue Ridge in nearby Crozet and Western Albemarle.

The Crozet-Western Albemarle reach is key to Waynesboro’s growth in recent years. The appeal to shoppers in Albemarle County’s western corner to drive over the mountain to Waynesboro is the relative ease of getting around in Waynesboro vis-a-vis getting around in Charlottesville.

“At a certain point,” Barnes said, “when there’s congestion or even the suggestion of congestion here in Waynesboro, whether it’s peak or it’s a problem throughout the day, does that start to drive people away who otherwise would come here?”

“You have to start thinking that way. Where do we sit in a regional context? We’re not an island unto ourselves. We’ve got what’s going on with Stuarts Draft and its potential growth. We’ve got Crozet and Western Albemarle and the plans there, the potential growth there. We’ve got to keep that in mind.”

Special Report will be examining traffic issues in the West End in a Special Report that will be published in our subscription section in July.

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