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Virginia Politics Going Nowhere on Transportation

On Mark Plotkin's politics hour today on WTOP radio, the exchange goes like this.

Plotkin asks about transportation policy. Sen. Creigh Deeds, who along with Brian Moran was on the regular Friday show four days before Tuesday's Democratic primary, says, "I'm going to devote my first year as governor to finding that fix. We've got to figure out how to move people and things more efficiently in Virginia."

Plotkin points out -- quite rightly -- that every governor has said that, but they can't get the money to pay for it. Where's the money going to come from?

"We have to take a comprehensive approach to this," Deeds says, adding that nothing is off the table.

Then the show starts taking calls from people stuck in traffic.

"I'm sitting on the Beltway," the first caller says. "I've been sitting in traffic on the Beltway for 20 minutes ... what are going to do to fix it?"

Deeds: Deeds: "I'm going to bring people together from all parts of the state and create a solution ... I'm going to fix this problem next year, there's going to be a special session ... "

Then another caller in traffic demands to know why he should vote for anyone who, four days before the election, doesn't have a specific plan for fixing a problem that most Northern Virginians figured out was a problem a decade ago.

Deeds says he does have a plan: "It's going to be long term in scope, it's going to be statewide in perspective and it's going to be creative in nature."

He adds: "This is not about talk, it's about getting something done next year."

In fact, a little less talk and a lot more action would serve Virginia well. Many civic and business leaders listened to Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer say this week that the Commonwealth continues to pull money out of transportation projects as it scrambles to keep up with basic maintenance. You'll be luck if you can find a highway bathroom between Arlington and the Blue Ridge.

Don't tell us we have a transportation problem. We get that. Tell us how you're going to fix it and where you're going to get serious money.

I'm not picking on Deeds. He just happened to be on the hot seat at that moment. The reason I'm venting is that I find this type of vagueness to be typical among state leaders.

Here's where you can read what the governor candidates say about transportation:
R. Creigh Deeds (D): Deeds Offers Demand-Side Transportation Reforms. (Deeds doesn't have a transportation program in the Issues section of his Web site. Since I just hung him out to dry in the radio exchange, you should also check The Post editorial, which says, "Mr. Deeds ... has consistently taken the political risk of supporting transportation packages that would help Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.")
Terry McAuliffe (D): Transportation
Brian Moran (D): Transportation and Infrastructure
Bob McDonnell (R): Transportation

By Robert Thomson  |  June 5, 2009; 6:09 PM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  | Tags: Deeds, McAuliffe, McDonnell, Moran  
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The Commonwealth, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia ought to ask: What is the Federal government doing to reduce demand?

The Feds are (my guess) the single biggest trip generator in the District. Why doesn't the Executive Branch get serious about telecommuting and flexible work schedules?

The Feds also need to stop building huge parking garages under their buildings. That, and employer provided free parking, are tremendous incentives to drive into the District. (We'd never provide free gasoline to employees, so why free parking?)

I can't believe that anyone likes watching his life slip away, stuck in traffic. We need to make it easy and painless to use an alternative to the single occupancy vehicle.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | June 6, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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