The Terry McAuliffe Show

Governor McAuliffe checks out a made-in-Virginia three-wheeler outside the Virginia Beach Conference Center.

Governor McAuliffe checks out a made-in-Virginia three-wheeler outside the Virginia Beach Conference Center.

by James A. Bacon

Terry McAuliffe doesn’t just fill the room — he fills the banquet hall. He’s loud, he’s animated,  he’s funny and he’s prone to superlatives. Economic development success, he proclaims, comes from superior salesmanship and the art of the deal. Indeed, if he doffed a wig of thinning blond, slicked-back hair, you’d be hard pressed to tell him apart from Donald Trump.

The governor regaled the audience at the 2015 Governor’s Transportation Conference in Virginia Beach around noon today. Among some of the more notable quotes:

Referring to Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne, McAuliffe said with typical enthusiasm: “He’s the greatest transportation secretary in the history of Virginia!”

Similarly, John Rinehart, CEO of the Port of Virginia is “the greatest port director in America!” The recent increase in container traffic, the governor added, is “an absolutely extraordinary record! … Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have the greatest port in America!”

Touting the benefits of the Interstate 95 tolled HOT lane project, he proclaimed the awesomeness of private-sector concessionaire Transurban. “Give Transurban a great round of applause!” he urged the audience.

As for those opposed to paying tolls on the proposed Interstate 66 megaproject in Northern Virginia, they’re not just misguided or mistaken. What they’re saying about tolls is “an absolute lie! It’s a fiction! It’s misleading to voters!”

McAuliffe said he has probably spent more time promoting Virginia overseas than any other governor. Ever. And one could surmise from his remarks that he’s given foreigners the hardest sell. He told a story about talking to some wine stewards in France. “I spent an hour convincing them that Virginia wines are better than French wines.”

The governor has made self-driving cars and unmanned aerial vehicles a major economic development priority for Virginia. His goal, he said: “I want a clone in every home in Virginia. And I wanted it manufactured in Virginia!”

Agree with him or disagree, McAuliffe is never dull.

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21 responses to “The Terry McAuliffe Show

  1. I agree with your characterizations much more often than not; but imagining anyone mistake Terry McAuliffe for Donald Trump is beyond the pale.

  2. McAuliffe is turning out to be a far more legitimate governor than he appeared to be . All I was expecting was a tax&spend car salesman…

    😉

    But it DOES APPEAR that VDOT and the GOV and others do believe that congestion tolling is the future of Va.

    they’re taking heat in NoVa especially from the GOP candidates but they’re not backing down.

    By the time McAuliffe is finished his term – congestion tolling is going to be pretty much the standard in NoVa and Hampton.

    It will be interesting to see if the Va GA tries to roll it back.

    I’m betting they won’t.. they’ll strut and holler on the campaign trail for sure.. but we’ll see later on.

    • McAuliffe has spent more time with the less glamorous job of just running the government than I thought. I give him good grades for that. The GOP House has kept his more wayward instincts in check, which, in turn, has caused him to plot a more steady course.

      Tolls are fine when they fund new capacity and are balanced with sufficient non-tolled (i.e., general purpose lanes) within the same roadway. I don’t oppose the outside the Beltway I-66 toll proposal. I supported the Express Lanes on the Beltway. Both pass the test.

      I don’t support the inside the Beltway toll plan because it does not offer drivers non-tolled access to general purpose lanes and will push traffic onto neighborhood streets. I don’t like the idea of spending all the toll money on bikeways and pedestrian paths. The latest proposal to excuse counter-commuters from paying tolls gives an advantage to D.C. and Maryland drivers at the expense of Virginia drivers. Tolling I-66 inside the Beltway is a bad idea absent widening the road and adding non-tolled general purpose lanes.

      • @TMT – is there any available right-of-way inside the beltway for additional lanes?

        • In some spots – yes. In other spots – no.

          • @tmt – and you’d be in favor of buying and tearing down developed places to get the right of way to get the added contiguous lanes?

            I ask this question seriously… because it does come up more and more.

            thanks.

          • Yes, Larry, one of the purposes of the I-66 toll project is to fund smart growth transportation projects. Read Greater, Greater Washington for a week. The anti-auto folks are thrilled with the proposal.

          • @TMT – and all the SMart growth and anti-road stuff started with McAuliffe?

            really?

            you guys just can’t help it.. did you get on McDonnell when he was doing this?

          • Last time I looked, McDonnell was out of office. The incumbent is Terry McAuliffe. Maybe we should discuss Chuck Robb. He was Governor when I moved here in late 1984.

            One of the stated purposes of the inside the Beltway proposal is to raise money for non-motor vehicle purposes. That makes Smart Growthers happy. If the purpose would have been to build a new bridge to Maryland, Til Hazel and his crowd would be happy. What is the matte with discussing reality?

          • re: ” Last time I looked, …”

            yes – and the plans for tolling were well underway from prior administrations – both GOP and DEM …

            so why make this a partisan issse?

            VDOT, McDonnell, and yes Kaine and Warner as well as the General Assembly knowingly set in motion PPTA and the express intent to start using tolls on major congestion roads.

            I just think making this partisan is ignorant and it distracts us from all of us actually dealing with the fundamental issue that we simply do not have enough money nor real estate to build enough free lanes… unless we all want to pay more and even then -we’re going to be tearing down tax-generating developed properties to do it.

            you can add free lanes on the outer parts of the spokes and beltways but all that will do is feed more traffic into the inner areas where you cannot reasonably expand.

            as long as we continue to make this about partisan politics, we do all of selves a disservice…

            we don’t like the status ouo, . we don’t like the current plans, and our only response is to blame the political party we disagree with philosophically and have no viable alternatives to offer.

            It’s like dealing with 6yr olds…

            no wonder the politicians do not want to actual engage the citizens – it’s a black hole of any kind of consensus.. and a loser for any politician who dares to actually tell citizens the truth.

          • Larry, there is a big difference between tolling a road that adds toll facilities and maintains general purpose lanes without tolls on one hand, and tolling a facility that has not been tolled before without maintaining the free general purpose lanes. And it’s not a partisan issue. Democratic Delegate Marcus Simon, for example, has been aggressively opposing the inside the Beltway plan for the above reason. He’s told the Governor he (Simon) will work to stop the plan’s implementation. I talked with Simon for 10 minutes at a McLean Chamber of Commerce event in September. He also indicated Democratic Delegate Mark Keam is also working to stop the Governor. Why isn’t is possible that both Democrats and Republicans can work together to defeat McAuliffe’s plan because it is a bad idea?

            And there’s good evidence McAuliffe has been lying about details of the plan even as he has been accusing others of lying. http://fairfaxfreecitizen.com/2015/11/01/mcauliffe-lying-again/

          • re: ” Larry, there is a big difference between tolling a road that adds toll facilities and maintains general purpose lanes without tolls on one hand, and tolling a facility that has not been tolled before without maintaining the free general purpose lanes. And it’s not a partisan issue. ”

            SHOULD NOT be a partisan issue -totally agree. and when it gets drawn into a partisan realm, you derail the ability to have a substantiative discussion of the merits of things like free lanes and tolling.

            existing roads are not free – they have to be maintained and operated. that’s a cost…

            “Democratic Delegate Marcus Simon, for example, has been aggressively opposing the inside the Beltway plan for the above reason. He’s told the Governor he (Simon) will work to stop the plan’s implementation. I talked with Simon for 10 minutes at a McLean Chamber of Commerce event in September. He also indicated Democratic Delegate Mark Keam is also working to stop the Governor. Why isn’t is possible that both Democrats and Republicans can work together to defeat McAuliffe’s plan because it is a bad idea? ”

            I wish they WOULD and you can say that the decision for VDOT to be the toll operator for I-66 was the result of negative feedback from the public

            so I’m totally okay with folks directly influencing decisions but it’s also incumbent on the public to understand that if you widen I-66 west and funnel it into a narrow I-66 east -there are going to be massive bottleneck problems.

            “And there’s good evidence McAuliffe has been lying about details of the plan even as he has been accusing others of lying. http://fairfaxfreecitizen.com/2015/11/01/mcauliffe-lying-again/

            bull feathers.. this is partisan and you know it…

            did McDonnell “lie” about PPTA , the I-95 HOT lanes ? people down my way say he did.. and others say someone lied about I-495.

            all that is to me is a toxic combination of partisan conspiracy theories that the purveyors of – have no intention of finding solutions. They’re fundamentally opposed to the CONCEPT of tolls.. and they basically hate govt. They have no viable alternative ideas to move the issue forward. Their goal is not to find alternatives but to gum up the works.

            the whole idea of tolls and congestion tolls in an urban area us ti manage the congestion … and as I said before – it was the Heritage Foundation that championed this concept.

          • re: ” big difference between tolling a road that adds toll facilities and maintains general purpose lanes without tolls on one hand, and tolling a facility that has not been tolled before without maintaining the free general purpose lanes. And it’s not a partisan issue. ”

            SHOULD NOT be a partisan issue -totally agree. and when it gets drawn into a partisan realm, you derail the ability to have a substantiative discussion of the merits of things like free lanes and tolling.

            existing roads are not free – they have to be maintained and operated. that’s a cost…

            “Democratic Delegate Marcus Simon, for example, has been aggressively opposing the inside the Beltway plan for the above reason. He’s told the Governor he (Simon) will work to stop the plan’s implementation. I talked with Simon for 10 minutes at a McLean Chamber of Commerce event in September. He also indicated Democratic Delegate Mark Keam is also working to stop the Governor. Why isn’t is possible that both Democrats and Republicans can work together to defeat McAuliffe’s plan because it is a bad idea? ”

            I wish they WOULD and you can say that the decision for VDOT to be the toll operator for I-66 was the result of negative feedback from the public

            so I’m totally okay with folks directly influencing decisions but it’s also incumbent on the public to understand that if you widen I-66 west and funnel it into a narrow I-66 east -there are going to be massive bottleneck problems.

            “And there’s good evidence McAuliffe has been lying about details of the plan even as he has been accusing others of lying. http://fairfaxfreecitizen.com/2015/11/01/mcauliffe-lying-again/

            bull feathers.. this is partisan and you know it…

            did McDonnell “lie” about PPTA , the I-95 HOT lanes ? people down my way say he did.. and others say someone lied about I-495.

            all that is to me is a toxic combination of partisan conspiracy theories that the purveyors of – have no intention of finding solutions. They’re fundamentally opposed to the CONCEPT of tolls.. and they basically hate govt. They have no viable alternative ideas to move the issue forward. Their goal is not to find alternatives but to gum up the works.

            the whole idea of tolls and congestion tolls in an urban area us ti manage the congestion … and as I said before – it was the Heritage Foundation that championed this concept.

        • I’ve never been a crusader for widening I-66 inside the Beltway, but would likely support making the road six lanes throughout. But if there are to be tolls on I-66, there needs to be toll free lanes on the same road, going in the same direction. Anything else will cause more traffic congestion and is generally unfair to residents.

          There is also a problem with Dulles Airport. As we’ve all read, IAD is not doing well financially. Today, a person can drive solo on I-66 as part of a trip to or from the Airport. That goes away with McAuliffe’s proposal. SOV airport passengers can be charged the toll. This will further decrease the incentive to use Dulles. If the goal is to promote Dulles, the toll plan for I-66 inside the Beltway should not be implemented.

          There is also a huge problem with enforcement of HOV-2. I’ve read documents suggesting 33-40% of solo drivers are cheating. Many feel the State needs to get a handle on cheaters before it starts tolling the road. Arlington Police periodically set traps on entrance and exit ramps, but more is needed.

          • I always thought there were flights at Dulles not available at Reagan and that there really was not that much choice..

            and if someone works inside the beltway – if the lanes were free but tolled outside the beltway – wouldn’t that tempt people to cheat?

            if the toll was all the way – and there was enforcement – ….

            isn’t the whole idea to discourage rush hour SOV?

          • I’m not a fan of tearing down houses the absence of which harms the integrity of a neighborhood. Much less slicing through a neighborhood, like they did in Richmond for i95 and the Downtown Expressway. But drive along i66 today and you will see a lot of junk rental and commercial stuff (it was once a railroad after all). The number of what I’d call “real homes” without a buffer zone is small. Preservationists can’t make much of a case against i66 widening inside the beltway, except on principle.

          • Some argue the purpose is to discourage rush hours SOV. Others claim the purpose is to get money from drivers to fund non-road projects that delight McAuliffe’s base. IMO, it’s probably both.

            The poor enforcement issue is real. Why have HOV restrictions when they are not/cannot be fairly enforced?

            Dulles is a mess and MWAA’s management team doesn’t seem to have a clue as to how to fix it absent seeking subsidies. There are flights (non-stop to California and International) that are available only from Dulles. But Reagan is often more convenient for many people.

          • @TMT – geeze .. you think McAuliffe and VDOT are manipulating the issue to give goodies to their base?

            good lord!

  3. The tolling issue is an interesting issue to me in terms of governance.

    here’s my thinking

    We are now into an era where much discussion and controversy revolves around the idea of whether or not government is responding to and being accountable to – citizens and voters.

    there’s a little bit of ” govt is supposed to work for us rather doing it to us” … in the wind…

    and the toll issue kinda gets to that…

    for instance. Suppose you had a referenda in the counties that abut the parts of I-66 that VDOT and the State want to toll.

    what would the results be?

    If voters overwhelmingly rejected tolling – what would happen next?

    if people demanded that the state build more “free” , untolled lanes and the State refused and/or said it did not have the money – would the elected representatives of the region – go to Richmond – and sponsor legislation to fund and build more untolled lanes on I-66?

    If you are an elected or appointed (transportation) official and you feel that there are almost no possibilities of more untolled lanes on I-66 – how do you deal with the public?

    that seems to be the dilemma of McAuliffe and the top Transportation officials, i.e. how do you deal with the public when trying to maintain and improve something that is vital to all citizens when the citizens themselves won’t accept the proposed solutions?

    so if you actually had the right of citizen initiative in Va – would those citizens put a question on the ballot about tolling and would citizens vote against it?

    and if they did -what would happen next?

    If you are Gov of Va – like McAuliffe – in this situation – what do you do – and then are you accused of not listening to the “people” – yet another example that justifies dismantling an “unaccountable” government?

    the toll issue is a small example of bigger unresolved issues in Virginia (and the country) – like health care and immigration and others.

    how do we proceed with these kinds of things if citizens don’t like the proposed solutions?

  4. The other day McAuliffe was on WTOP radio for the Ask the Gov program. I submitted a question about the Clean Power Plan (gimme some CPP specifics Terry) but the I-66 tolls pretty much took the whole hour. I don’t have a dog in that fight, but tell you what, I took Rt 50 to see Steve Martin at the Kennedy Center last week. I66 has just become useless.

    I feel McAuliffe is doing a very good job. Sort of the equivalent to McAuliffe on the Repub side is Gillespie…I am thinking Ed may be next. Pragmatic, move VA ahead approach without all the partisan grid lock.

    • surely you saw this:

      ” Va. Republicans attack McAuliffe proposal to add tolls on congested I-66″

      Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell and other state Republican leaders Thursday attacked a plan by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to turn Interstate 66 inside the Beltway into a toll road for some commuters during morning and evening rush hours.

      Calling the proposal “outrageously expensive” for commuters, Howell (R-Stafford) called on the governor to trash the idea and launch a plan that includes promptly adding new lanes to the heavily congested highway.

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