Va. Transportation Secretary Offers Gloomy Forecast
There's no major transportation project that's just about getting people from Point A to Point B. Usually, there aren't enough travelers to justify the expense. There's almost always some aspect involving commerce, or the shaping of communities. That's true of the Purple Line and the Intercounty Connector and the Dulles Rail project and countless others.
When Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer spoke today to civic, business and political leaders at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, he began by noting that three decades ago, Virginians were streaming across the Wilson Bridge to "all those great jobs in Maryland." Now, he said, the traffic is heavy in the opposite direction because Virginia created a great climate for business.
Now, he told the Northern Virginia leaders, that advantage was eroding beneath their feet. The Commonwealth is putting a greater and greater portion of its dwindling money for transportation into maintaining its roads. Even so, he said, there will be skimping. Watch the grass grow by the highway this summer.
So there's less money available for the state to send to local governments. That means that if an Ikea or a new federal office knocks on the door, the local government can't roll out the welcome mat by talking about the roads and bus routes it could create to accommodate the new employer.
Travelers are seeing lots of construction activity in Northern Virginia this season, but all the work masks the erosion of spending for the secondary and urban roads that are vital to developing communities.
These are the four problems he said he found most distressing:
-- The state lacks funds to match federal funds available for transportation projects, so it's going to miss chances for federal support.
-- There are no state funds for transportation improvements to attract major employers.
-- There's no state or federal money for road and transit improvements to reduce congestion, so that's just going to get worse.
-- There's no state money to attract public-private transportation partnerships, so Virginia will lose out on chances to build projects with private support.
June 3, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
Categories: Congestion , Construction , Transportation Politics | Tags: Homer, Virginia, transportation forecast, transportation secretary
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