Is Commuting by Car from Culpeper More Important Than a VRE Extension to Haymarket?

There’s a steady drumbeat of “reports” that always call for Virginia taxpayers to subsidize new roads. In the past few years, even a few transit projects have been added to the wish list.  Proposals to extend the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) to the edge of the Rural Area at Haymarket, over objections of town officials, is one example of encouraging more sprawl through transit.

In TRIP’s Top 50 Surface Transportation Projects to Support Economic Growth in Virginia, the top 10 projects alone are projected to cost $30 billion (that’s billion, with a “b”).  However, the VRE extension is way down at #22 on the list of “most needed surface transportation projects to support economic development in the state.”

Number 10 on the sprawling wish-list: spending $53 million to add two lanes to the eastern bypass around Warrenton.
(Sure, the governor has scrounged through the sofa cushions to find $3 billion, and $30 billion sounds like a stretch – but turn off your critical thinking skills.  Think of those transportation projects as long-term “investments.”  Stop debating funding priorities.  Expanding highways, building Mixing Bowls at Gainesville, then Warrenton – hey, the Washington Post defines that as progress. Just fund those projects, OK?)

Maybe the developers think the VRE extension is a done deal (TRIP estimates it will cost $250 million).  Maybe the TRIP crowd thinks it is time to start advocating for yet another taxpayer subsidy to spur residential sprawl in Culpeper.

Taxpayers have already built two bypasses around Warrenton.  Fauquier County/Warrenton officials allowed strip commercial development on the initial western bypass, which clogged intersections with traffic.  To solve the problem a second time, the Virginia Department of Transportation built the eastern bypass 25 years ago.

Who would use the widened eastern bypass?  Primary beneficiaries: commuters from Culpeper, and developers who will convert rural fields and forests into subdivisions – far from the job centers in Northern Virginia.

Who would pay for the project?  TRIP doesn’t bother with the pesky question of funding, other than to list the projected costs.  So use your critical thinking skills – think the commuters and developers will be asked to “invest” and provide the $53 million?

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1 comment so far

  1. Culpeper commuting | Snigofoto on

    […] Is Commuting by Car from Culpeper More Important Than a VRE …Feb 8, 2011 … There’s a steady drumbeat of “reports” that always call for Virginia taxpayers to subsidize new roads. In the past few years, even a few transit … […]


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