As you may recall, much of my first campaign for elected office was based on the premise that instead of raising taxes, we need to reform government in order to fix things like roads, schools, and other key services by using taxpayer money more wisely. I'm pleased to say that we have made significant progress.
However, there are still problems to fix. In January of this year, the Northam administration announced their recommendations for another two years of state funding for transportation projects. Unfortunately, their recommendations were very transit-heavy. In fact, they recommended sending 92% of the money in Northern Virginia to transit projects; even in the Staunton District (including Frederick and Clarke Counties) 46% would go to transit!
Even more suspicious, 66% of NoVa funding would go to Arlington and Alexandria, with another 25% to a bus project on the Rt. 1 corridor in Fairfax Count; projects within a stone's throw of the Amazon HQ2 project. To be perfectly clear, this set of recommendations sends transportation money to economic development, ignoring that the law clearly states, “…no project shall be undertaken primarily for economic development purposes.” Virginia law also requires that in Northern Virginia, "congestion mitigation... is weighted highest among the factors in the prioritization process."
Three days after the SMART SCALE recommendations were released in January, Delegate Tim Hugo and I wrote a letter to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Valentine telling her SMART SCALE was not looking very smart at all. The LaRock-Hugo letter led to an April 15 meeting of the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability (JCTA), which Del. Hugo chairs. My presentation at that meeting can be viewed here.
At that April 15 meeting, I asked Deputy Secretary of Transportation Donohue to provide a revised scoring and funding scenario for us, which he said he would, but has not yet done. My office has worked with Loudoun and Prince William Counties to come up with revised scoring which more closely follows the General Assembly’s original instructions, prioritizing congestion relief, while funding a fair mix of road and transit projects which will bring real congestion relief.
A public hearing on these funding allocations will be held tonight, and I intend to voice my objections to the recommended project list and demand the monies be disbursed on a revised and fair set of recommendations, and hope many others will do the same!
Monday, May 13, 2019
VDOT Northern Virginia District Office
Potomac Conference Center
4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030
5 p.m. Open house for VTrans & participating agencies
5:45 p.m. Presentation for the I-95 Corridor Study
6 p.m. Public hearing
More information is available here and here
Due to legislation I passed last year, this will be a first-ever joint transportation hearing for all the major entities which fund transportation in Northern Virginia. Besides VDOT, other agencies present will include the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (WMATA and other transit funding, as well as I-66 and I-395 toll funds), Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (regional transportation planning and funding), Virginia Railway Express, the I-95 Corridor Improvement Plan and more.
I hope many toll-payers and citizens in general will comment that these state transportation funds must not be wasted, but be spent in a way that will truly improve our daily travel. After tonight's public hearing, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will be meeting in Northern Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide which projects to fund.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. We are here to serve you! You can reach us at info@voteLaRock.us, 540-751-8364, Facebook, and Twitter