Tunnel Vision (and Avendale too)

You may have noticed the headlines – the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is running out of money.  On November 16, The Virginian-Pilot reported on the latest road projects to be cut from the state’s Six Year Plan.

In the story, a Virginia Beach official is quoted as saying Ten years from now we’re going to look back on this period and say ‘What were we thinking? Why didn’t we have a long-range funding plan?’

Maybe that official has been staring too long at proposals for new underwater crossings at Hampton Roads, but he’s sure got tunnel vision.  You don’t need to wait 10 more years.  There is a long-range funding plan.
The new governor made it clear in his 2009 campaign: cut other government services, if you want more $$$ for transportation.

So now it’s time for some realistic transportation planning, not pie-in-the-sky, fiscally unconstrained wish lists such as the Northern Virginia 2030 Transportation Plan.

We need local officials in Prince William, Virginia Beach, and elsewhere who can look outside the rut of “build-a-road-build-another-road-scheme-for-more-taxes-build-another-road.”  We need to start asking different questions, and to start right now:
– What are we thinking when we approve all those new subdivisions, far from existing highways and potential transit?
We know that at some point, we run out of money and must stop repeating the pattern of 1960’s sprawl and think of different solutions. We’re not stupid.  When VDOT went broke and voters elected a no-new-taxes governor anyway, why don’t we recognize that the times have changed?

Back on 2005, the new governor-elect broke his biggest campaign promise within a week after election.  Tim Kaine proposed new transportation taxes within a week of election, without any constitutional amendment to keep new revenue in a transportation “lockbox.”

It’s been a week since the 2009 election… and the new 2009 governor-elect has not changed his tune.  His long-term funding strategy is a classic one many families will recognize: adjust to reality, and live within your means.  We need to minimize new congestion and reduce the need for expensive new road projects we can’t afford, not raise taxes.

Ten years from now, we should be praising Prince William officials who got the 2009 election message, then planned ahead to keep taxes low.  Officials who vote to concentrate new housing and jobs in mixed use centers within the Development Area are fiscally responsible.  Officials who support new sprawl such as Avendale, while asking the General Assembly to raise taxes to build more local roads, are not fiscally responsible.

If officials exist in Prince William who got the 2009 election message, it’s time to speak up before voting on Avendale.

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1 comment so far

  1. Al Alborn on

    If you haven’t read Green Metropolis by David Owen, suggest you get a copy. Interesting read relevent to this and similar blogs.


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