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Turning on the Hydrant

Eric Weiss writes in today's Post about an encouraging trend: Local governments are stepping in where the states are failing. They're financing and building transportation improvements. These are investments that Virginia and Maryland should be making, but when the house is burning, you can't stand around arguing about who's going to hook up to the hydrant.

Inaction at the state level -- particularly in Virginia -- is leaving the governments in the Washington suburbs with little choice. Either they arrange for the necessary transportation improvements themselves, or they won't happen. If they don't happen, current and future residents won't enjoy the benefits of the mobile society that some of us are old enough to remember.

Two rapidly growing outer suburbs have bond money on their ballots today: In Prince William County, there's a $300 million bond to improve Routes 1 and 28 and some other roads. In Loudoun County, there's a $51 million bond issue to expand some main roads, such as Routes 7 and 50.

Of course, there's a downside: If local governments raise the money and spend the money on their own priorities, who's to say that the projects will make sense in relation to each other? Every local improvement has to end somewhere. Some of these improvements will become the bottlenecks of the future. But we're beginning to see the results of the do-little-or-nothing option. Who benefits from that?

By Robert Thomson  |  November 7, 2006; 8:13 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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