August 10, 2006
The final four-mile section of the long-awaited bypass loop around Staunton was opened this morning, and I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremonies. The weather was gloomy, not what you would call auspicious. Congressman Bob Goodlatte was the main speaker at the event, and Delegates Chris Saxman and Steve Landes, Staunton Mayor Lacy King, city council members Richard Bell and Bruce Elder, Augusta County supervisors Larry Howdyshell, Jim Bailey, and Nancy Sorrells, as well as various VDOT officials were there.
The entire bypass will be designated "Route 262," which means that the northern stretch of the "Woodrow Wilson Parkway" will no longer be called "Route 275." (See VDOT.)
An obvious question arises: Is this highway project an example of wasteful "pork barrel" spending? I'm hardly one to answer that question objectively, but I can say without hesitation that there was a pressing need for a way to get around Staunton without getting stuck in the congested streets of downtown. There was simply no practical alternative route to or from the west side of town. When returning from Appomattox last March, I was amazed to see the brand-new, super-sized Route 29 bypass east of Lynchburg. By comparison, Staunton's bypass is much more modest in scale, and presumably more economical. The massive new bypass system in Blacksburg-Christiansburg? Don't get me started.