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On The Record

Anita Kumar

Recently, we introduced you to On The Record , a new regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Have a quote you want to share? Email me at

Now onto our latest installment:

"It shows [Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell] just doesn't understand the serious needs in Northern Virginia and the fact that it will take rational leadership based on good thoughtful public policy to solve these problems, not the kind gimmicks he's proposed," Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), said in an interview with my colleague Roz Helderman.

Englin was responding to McDonnell's criticism of Gov. Tim Kaine for postoning construction on HOT lanes on interstates 395 and 95 even though private companies, not the state, are picking up the tab. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation in part by privatizing the state's liquor stores, adding tolls on some highways and promoting public-private partnerships like the HOT lane project. Englin, whose district includes a large portion of the proposed project, said McDonnell is misreading a much-sought-after delay by some residents who want time to study the potential effect on their neighborhoods.

What do you think about Englin's quote? Share your thoughts with us below.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 22, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Anita / Roz - I say way more funny and quotable things than that, and I think you're taking this particular quote a bit out of context. I've been working the I-395/95 HOT Lanes issue for some time, and I'm perfectly aware of how it's financed. The point is that McDonnell is criticizing Kaine for responding to the reality of the private financing market, but the reason we have to resort to private financing in the first place (where we let a private company profit from a public asset in exchange for their investment in improving and/or managing that asset) is because people like McDonnell would rather govern through gimmicks (selling liquor stores, for example) than do what's necessary to fund public infrastructure with public money (i.e. dedicated, sustained funding for transportation, such a gas tax increase) so that Virginia taxpayers, and not a private company's shareholders, can benefit from the revenue generated. In the full context in which I said it, there's nothing remotely funny or outrageous about the quote you used.

Posted by: deldenglin | August 22, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I think Virginians will view McDonnell's commitment to not raise taxes in the middle of a recession in a favorable light, Delegate.

It's also ironic that you waded into this battle, considering that you support the efforts to prevent the construction of the I-95/I-395 HOT Lanes at all costs, including suing the state; you're also on record as saying "we can't pave our way out of this", as a reason to oppose any new construction of roads as well as improvement and expansion of existing roads, like an extra lane on I-66 inside the Beltway (which is already federally funded).

I guess your theory is let traffic get bad enough so people are either forced to take public transportation or move away. How is that working out so far?

People want solutions, and even more than that, when solutions are put on the table and begun, they don't want them taken off. That's why, despite the Tunnel being a better option, there's so little political will in stopping the Dulles Rail Project to make it better. I would think most Virginians agree with McDonnell over you.

Of course, Creigh Deeds doesn't even have a transportation plan, so who knows what he thinks about all of this.

Posted by: VABlogger | August 22, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

VABlogger - I'm not opposed to all new construction of roads. (I'm pleased with the progress of the Fairfax County Parkway, for example.) While you are correct that, regardless of how it's financed, I oppose the I-395/95 HOT Lanes project as it's currently conceived, you are not correct to assume that because I oppose a bad design, I prefer no solution.

In this case, I oppose a design that would harm my constituents while still failing to address our regional transportation needs. Rather than increasing the volume of cars flowing from Stafford and Prince William to DC (at which point they have nowhere to go, and either add to the gridlock in DC or bailout into neighborhoods in Alexandria and Arlington) we need transit along the I-395/95 corridor to get commuters to and from their jobs in DC, Arlington, and Alexandria without adding to gridlock. That's the kind of win-win solution that I hope results from the proper environmental review Arlington County is demanding in its lawsuit, and it's the kind of responsible leadership I believe Virginians demand.

Regarding your comment about funding transportation, I guess we'll have to let voters decide on Nov. 3 whether they prefer a serious, thoughtful, long-term, comprehensive solution to the problem, or whether they prefer taking money from education and public safety, combining it with money from gimmicks like selling off liquor stores, and still falling short of the money needed to fix our traffic and transportation problem.

Posted by: deldenglin | August 22, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I see I'm dealing with Del. Dave "On Message" Englin here...

I'm all about adding transit options. I believe mass transit should be an integral part of transportation planning moving foward, and I would welcome such an addition to the I-395 corridor. But as we've seen with the Metro Extension to Dulles, it takes a while. Some people are now talking about a Metro extention to Gainesville or Ft. Belvior--nice ideas that won't possibly be implemented in the next fifty years. And Metrobuses aren't doing the trick, either.

So while we wait for decades and begin long-term planning to add transit options on I-395, can't we also do something now in the short-term to ease traffic? Yes, its a fact of life that all roads into DC narrow; yet you completely overlook traffic into downtown Arlington and the Pentagon as well as all traffic flowing OUT of D.C.; the HOT lanes would make it easier for parents to get home and see their kids at a reasonable hour.

To me, that's the real "win-win" scenario: do short-term improvements like the HOT lanes and adding a lane inside the Beltway to I-66 while vigoursly pursuing mass transit alternatives in the long-term. And while I'm sure many of your constituents appreciate your position, there are over a million other people who are affected by this decision, and I would bet most of them would like to see more lanes added.

Regarding funding, the choice between increasing taxes and not increasing taxes always creates a strong contrast. I don't believe that raising taxes during a recession is a good idea; you have a much larger megaphone at your disposal, so if you feel it is a good idea, I look forward to seeing you barnstorm Northern Virginia with a "I Want To Raise Your Taxes" banner in tow. Maybe you could get Creigh Deeds to come join you, too. :)

Posted by: VABlogger | August 22, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

There's no reason on God's green earth why roads should be a "short-term" fix while transit should take "decades." A relatively immediate transit-centered solution is a matter of funding and political will. For example, if we're going the public-private partnership route (because it's the only remaining option due to the General Assembly's 20-year failure fund transportation) then why not do a public-private partnership focused on Bus Rapid Transit, which would allow us to create a new metro line along the I-395/95 corridor in relatively short order?

We put a man on the moon less than a decade after declaring the goal - we can certainly put transit in the I-395/95 corridor!

Posted by: deldenglin | August 23, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

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