There's a good chance something will happen in the next five years to address congestion along Route 29 in the Charlottesville area.

Whatever the solution happens to be, one idea is already off the table.  Plans for a six-mile bypass around part of Albemarle County have been set aside.

At a meeting in Richmond Wednesday, Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board set a new course.

An advisory panel is being formed, to come up with alternatives for improving Route 29 using the $200 million that was originally earmarked for the bypass.

"The charge we've been given is to work with the existing 29 corridor in Charlottesville," said Philip Shucet, a former commissioner for the Virginia Department of Transportation who is chairing the advisory panel.

The board will consist of elected officials from across the state, including three people from our region: Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders, Lynchburg Mayor Mike Gillette, and Christine Kennedy with the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Kennedy was a strong supporter of the bypass and wishes the project could still go forward.

"I feel very strongly about this project being ripped out from underneath a commitment," Kennedy said.

Kennedy and the rest of the panel have just six weeks to come up with a workable plan for improving 29 with existing funds.

"It will be interesting to see how the first meeting goes," Kennedy said.  "I'm going in to listen and to learn, and then to make an informed recommendation."

The panel will meet three times, with the first event happening March 27.  All discussions will be open to the public.

Recommendations will be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board on May 14.