Here is the text of a letter I sent today to the Division Administrator of the Virginia Division of the Federal Highway Administration. Given the actions that Charlottesville City Council is considering in moving the McIntire Road Extended project forward to construction I feel it is necessary to get FHWA to review the situation. Perhaps if you have thoughts on the legality or propriety of how these projects are being developed you can share your thoughts with FHWA, VDOT, and Charlottesville City Council, too.
August 18, 2008
400 North 8th Street, Suite 750
Richmond, Virginia 23219-4825
Dear Mr. Fonseca-Martinez,
A change in the southern terminus of the McIntire Road Extended project in Charlottesville from intersecting at Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road to a point 775 feet north of the Route 250 Bypass has recently occurred. Given that this road and its connection to Route 250 Bypass constituted the no-build alternative in the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road – a Federal-aid Highway project – it now appears that there is no basis for using the current no-build alternative in the interchange project.
I and other interested stakeholders in Charlottesville have communicated our concern that these two projects should be combined into one project with the no-build alternative being the current in-place roadway network since the inception of the separate interchange project. With the recent official change in the McIntire Road Extended project design scope, the current FHWA position that these two projects can proceed as independent projects clearly needs to be revisited. The new design scope of the state funded McIntire Road Extended project makes it no longer a road as it only has one terminus that connects to the existing roadway network and clearly is dependent upon the Federal-aid interchange project to provide any transportation utility in the roadway network. The interchange is also the only currently proposed project that if constructed will link the southern terminus of the proposed McIntire Road Extended project to Route 250 Bypass (a National Highway System facility).
I believe that the current projects remaining as independent projects is not in compliance with NEPA requirements regarding project segmentation, and the interchange project is not in compliance with the NEPA requirement of having a suitable no-build alternative under consideration.
I encourage you to review the McIntire Road Interchange at McIntire Road project in light of these significant developments and provide necessary guidance to the project sponsors (City of Charlottesville) as to how they can come into compliance with Federal-aid Highway Program and NEPA requirements.
I am happy to discuss this issue with you or members of your staff further by letter, telephone, or electronic mail. My contact information is provided above.
Sincerely, Peter Kleeman