Reality Check: “no check will be coming in the mail”

While people in Northern Virginia were watching the events in Washington DC, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation revealed today that the VDOT budget for Fiscal Year 2010 will stop funding construction for new roads.   

In his Transportation Budget Update, Pierce Homer tried once again to alert elected officials that “budgeting as usual” won’t work.  That means “planning as usual” won’t work either. 

If you hear local officials tell you that Prince Wiliam can find $3 billion to build 700 new lanemiles of primary, secondary and urban roads by 2030… ask them to do a reality check.  

Listing those 700 new lanemiles  in the Transportation Chapter update of the Comprehensive Plan is – well, a fantasy.  

County officials like the 700 mile list because they can claim there is a plan to solve the traffic problem.  In the meantime, we can allow every developer to build new projects all across the county generating new traffic everywhere, since the road network will expand all across the county.

Paying no attention to the cost of new roads is dumb planning, not smart growth. 

Officials who claim we can get Richmond/Washington to build all the new roads needed to reduce congestion, while we scatter new growth and create new traffic all across the county, are living in a fantasy world… or consciously telling you a fairy tale. 

The obvious solution is a hard one, but these are hard times.  Prince William planners need to go on a diet, and cut back on planned-but-will-never-be-funded construction projects. 

How?  County officials need to get out their crystal balls and estimate future revenue for new road construction.  Next step: calculate costs/lane mile.    Some simple math will show PW County needs to delete a lot of the road projects now in the Comp Plan. 

Or go to Plan B:  propose massive tax increases for local bonds to build those roads.  Politicians and planners who propose 700 miles of new lane miles are big-tax politicians and big-tax planners…

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