McDonnell's U.S. 460 dilemma: public money needed
You can slice it. You can dice it. But it all comes back to the same problem -- Virginia's dearth of public money for needed highways.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has been trying for years to push a replacement for U.S. 460 running roughly 55 miles from Suffolk to Prince George County east of Petersburg.
The reason is simple. Any Washingtonian who has tried to drive to Virginia Beach and the ocean shore on a summer weekend knows how jammed the bridge tunnels under Hampton Roads can be and what a parking lot Interstate 64 is from Newport News to Richmond.
Indications are that traffic will only get worse in southeastern Virginia. That has big implications not just for beachgoers but for trucking traffic to and from of the largest port complexes on the East Coast, the U.S. military and local residents attempting to flee for higher ground should a long-overdue killer hurricane brew up.
The solution? Build a limited access, multilane U.S. 460 replacement that would do much to ease traffic woes along the current U.S. 460 on the south side of the James River. The price tag is from $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion.
Like his Democratic predecessors, McDonnell has promoted public-private partnerships as a way, essentially, to get something for nothing. The state faces $20 billion in transportation needs it can't pay for. McDonnell thinks that if you turn roads over to private infrastructure firms, Virginia would get a toll road without the tax burden.
Well, maybe not. Apparently, in recent weeks, it has been clear after meetings with infrastructure firms and road builders that state and federal money will be needed for the project after all. Curiously, previous studies have stated that up to $1 billion in public money will be needed. Tolls could still run a whopping $13.20.
McDonnell must have known this since he's been on the case for a decade. So, where will he get the state money? That's going to require even more stunning smoke and mirrors than delaying the state pension fund payments that he used to create a (phantom) surplus in the upcoming budget.
When will they learn you can't get something for nothing?
| July 26, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories: D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, Maryland, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, energy, environment, military, real estate, recreation, taxes, traffic, transportation, weather
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