Monday, May 21, 2007

Transportation (I81)--More revenue v. Creative Solutions

It is no secret that transportaiton is a hot-button issue. The Valley experiences a high degree of frustration, because it seems as though most of the monies are sent to NOVA and Tidewater, and very little is given to address the issue of Truck Route 81. As an individual who is on 81 almost everyday, I have to say, we need help!

Those of you who drive I81 understand. There are 2 speed limits; very slow or very fast (trucks usually set the pace). I have learned trucker edicate, that's for sure. I had to, or else my fuel efficient mini-car would be run off the road (actually, that has happened twice now).

Things were looking up 2 years ago when there was discussion centering on I81. There were proposals involving rail, extra lanes, tolls, and misc. band-aid approaches. There was actually a lot of talk. Then there was more talk. Then the talk turned into chatter and the chatter turned into mumbles and we still have major issues on I81 and it seems like there is a deafening silence.

So I was curious and decided to take a look at what Hanger and Sayre were saying themselves about solutions to our I81 problems.

"There is no question, based on current policy; that we do not have adequate revenue coming into the Transportation Trust Fund to pay for existing needs.".

Editors note: Senator Hanger wasn't kidding. In 2006, he voted for SB 708 twice, which based on FY 2007 projections, would have added $114 million for mass transit, $662 million for highway contruction and $210 million for local and regional projects. This money cwould have come from several sources including an increase in motor vehicle tax, increase in gas tax, increase in vehicle registration fees and increase in auto insurance tax to name just a few. Thankfully the bill died in the House.

Hanger continues

"I do not support the impact fees that were authorized, but some of the growth management tools may prove helpful. The biggest shortcoming of the funding package, in my opinion was that it relies totally on taxes and fees that are paid by just Virginians and do not extend to the out-of-state motorists and truckers that use our highways."

Editors note: Once again, more talk about "funding". And, Hanger's statement is contradictory to his previously noted votes, both in committee and on the floor, on SB 708.

Next Hanger says:

"We recently created a Transportation Accountability Commission, to provide some additional oversight from the legislature on the implementation of transportation policy. I have been appointed to serve on this Commission."

In summation, from what I gather, Hanger's solution is to raise more money and sit on a commission to discuss policy.

What does Sayre have to say? On his website he states:

It's time for us to prioritize state spending on core functions of government: public safety, education, and transportation...What we have found thus far is the need to fund and build climbing lanes on several stretches of I-81 in the 24th District. Here are some simple solutions:

1. Enact a Constitutional Amendment to Protect the Transportation Trust
Fund. The Trust Fund has been repeatedly raided to fund non-transportation

2. Reform VDOT so that it is responsive to the needs of the people. Have
you ever sat at a red light waiting for it to turn green - and worse there was
no one else in the intersection - just there alone wasting time and fuel?

3. Allow for more citizen involvement in the process and expand public
private partnership initiatives to ensure even greater private involvement in
road building, maintenance and construction.

4. Educate our drivers to Drive in the right lane and Pass in the left

The stark difference between Hanger and Sayre is obvious. Hanger, having been in Richmond for many years, sees the fix as an obvious increase in revenue sources. Sayre, a businessman, seeks a four-fold solution which includes driver education and an amendment to lock up transportation funding. The dollars are already out there--we have a huge surplus. Let's use the money that exists.

X-Posted at In-Politically Correct



Blogger Spank That Donkey said...

If Emmett is so influential why didn't he demand a Transportation Lock Box and get it?

May 21, 2007 at 2:59 PM  

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