Posts by AlexRobbins
In my very first post on this site I spoke about the Governor’s short-term solutions on transportation and how inadequate those solutions were with the needs of the Commonwealth. The General Assembly was still in the middle of its session then and I was hopeful that, despite poor appearances, the Administration would eventually come around and see the necessity of providing for the transportation needs of northern Virginia, which benefit the entire state when all is said and done. The General Assembly has wrapped up its special session on the budget now and by all appearances we’re in exactly the same place as where we started. If anything, we’ve even moved a little in the opposite direction.
The Dulles Rail project has been on the minds of planners in this area since the late 1990s, if not before. Now that the project is finally under construction, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the McDonnell Administration are threatening the completion of the project. This is not to say that any mass-transit project should automatically be funded without and observation and analysis of the costs and benefits. The Loudoun board is well within their rights to ask for more time to do just that. However, the McDonnell Administration has shown no interest in conducting any kind of measured analysis and instead has jeopardized the state government’s portion of the funding over a dispute over unionized labor. This is hardly an example of the pro-business, pro-growth attitude the Governor claims to have. Indeed, every major business in northern Virginia, as well as the local Chamber of Commerce, supports the project. What surreal world have we entered where the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce are at odds on an issue?
Devolution was a word people thought they were finished hearing from Richmond for a while, but it turns out it was just biding its time to re-enter the picture. The current budget deadlock in Richmond has brought the issue back into the discussion, if not front-and-center. On its face, the proposal seems to be perfectly sensible: give localities in Northern Virginia direct control over the maintenance of the secondary roads which are currently owned by the county but maintained by the state Department of Transportation. Redundancies would be removed and process for improving and maintaining roads would be simplified, thus leading to an increase in overall quality of the road system in an area which desperately needs it. However, as is so often the case, the issue has been oversimplified. Turning over control of the secondary road system to the counties is not merely an issue of jurisdiction. Were that the case the issue would have been decided a long time ago (and it would still remain with the state; counties, by Virginia law, are political subdivisions of the state and not independent entities).
In recent weeks we have seen publicity swirl around the Center for Public Integrity’s recent report in which Virginia, along with 7 other states, was given a failing grade when it came to the presence of corruption in the state government. I was reminded of a story told by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner last month.
Last week the Virginia General Assembly adjourned without passing a budget and had to be called back into special session, the third time in the last decade that this has occurred. When the legislature returns for a special session next week, one can only hope that the budget that is passed reflects the right values and proper long-term priorities that will keep Virginia moving forward. One area where this is especially critical is transportation.