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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 07/16/2010

VDOT, stalled in the middle of traffic

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Transportation was given an aspirin to treat a brain tumor this week.

Virginia's ailing roads were promised about $20 million more after Gov. Robert F. McDonnell reported a $220 million budget surplus this week. It's a bit of good news for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). But as we continue to endure the blazing summer heat, hopes of a special session next fall to address our chronic transportation problems seem to be evaporating.

The gas tax that hasn't been raised in 24 years is most commonly cited as the cause of VDOT's woes. But there are many pieces to the complex puzzle.

One is that no matter how many audits and studies are done of VDOT -- and there have been many, most notably 32 in the past decade -- some solutions just don't find solid ground because the agency's hands are tied.

For example, auditors have repeatedly reported that VODT's doing a bad job of sending its limited funds to the projects that need it the most. Instead, old funding formulas govern where the money is dispersed ... and don't necessarily coincide with areas bearing the most traffic.

It's up to the General Assembly to change those rules. But the issue is so politically charged that any attempt to modify them could end up in a miniature civil war, as northern legislators wrestle southern legislators for more of the pie.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | July 16, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, traffic, transportation  
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