No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Barnie Day



What We're Up Against

Virginia faces a $100 billion - with a "b" - shortfall in transportation funding over the next 20 years. What do our presumptive gubernatorial candidates have to offer?


“Transportation is education. Transportation is health care. It’s how you get there and how they get to you. Transportation is access to recreation. It’s what brings everything we ate for breakfast, what we put on today.”


-- Virginia Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet, The Free Lance-Star.


Let’s round a number off so that it is nice and tidy.  One hundred billion dollars. It looks like this: $100,000,000,000. That’s over $13,000 for every man, woman, and child who calls Virginia home. That’s the size of the transportation funding shortage we’re facing in Virginia over the next 20 years.


This one is not going to go away. The needs have been studied and documented to death. The facts are pretty stark. There is very little disagreement across the political spectrum on what these needs, these facts, are.


Over the next six years, we have identified construction needs of approximately $600 million dollars — projects already in the state’s Six-Year Plan — and $22 million that we can spend. And what is the general reaction to that fact? The Virginia legislature stripped funding OUT of the plan this year. And voters in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia roared ‘NO!’ to regional transportation tax increases last year.


Nearly everyone in government in Virginia, from town councils and boards of supervisors, to the statehouse is easily, comfortably conversant with transportation shortfalls in Virginia, but most duck or just clam up when it comes to what we all know it must come to eventually:


“You still have to talk about how you pay for it,” Governor Mark Warner said in a Richmond Times Dispatch piece by Jeff Schapiro last week.


Good for you, Governor.


What do Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine, both of whom hope to succeed Warner, have to say on that one?  Herewith, via staff, replies from both:




Virginia has come a long way in developing innovative ways to address the transportation problems we have, particularly in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, by focusing on reforming processes in VDOT and also using the Public Private Partnership Act of 1995 to build roads better, faster and cheaper. We need to ensure that we keep commerce and people moving throughout the intermodal transportation system in Virginia. One of the most important things we can do is prevent the Transportation Fund from being raided. This will ensure that planned projects are funded and construction delays are avoided.


“I am committed to looking at innovative and forward-looking initiatives that free up capacity on our existing network of roads by recognizing that transportation is a service that should be treated like other goods and services — allowing the private sector to meet the demands of consumers in an open and free marketplace. Some innovative initiatives that will allow us to modernize our transportation system are a reliance on HOT lanes in high congestion areas and a greater reliance on private-public agreements to construct projects more quickly and efficiently.


“What I will not do is advance more of the outdated, ineffective efforts of the past. My transportation initiatives will recognize that we have to modernize our transportation system now — not just plan to build roads 10 years from now when we will have done irreparable harm to the people an economy of Virginia.”


Okay. Thank you, Jerry.




“Lt. Governor Tim Kaine has two priorities when it comes to improving Virginia’s transportation situation: making our system more efficient and more accountable. He will continue the proven efficiency reforms now underway and restore people’s confidence in government by ensuring that dedicated transportation money cannot be used for anything else.


“Tim Kaine believes a well-planned transportation network — roads, rail, airports, and seaports — is critical to Virginia’s quality of life and economic success. As Richmond’s Mayor, Tim Kaine championed the successful effort to restore train service to Virginia’s Capitol City.


“As Governor, Tim Kaine will focus on efficiency improvements in VDOT, continuing the reforms begun by Governor Mark Warner and implemented by VDOT Commissioner Phil Shucet. Those new methods of operation have dramatically improved VDOT’s ability to complete projects on time and on budget. The momentum is moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of room to improve.


“Tim Kaine is working to ensure that no transportation funds are raided for other purposes. He proposed last year, and will again this year, a constitutional amendment to prevent lawmakers from stealing transportation money to prop up other parts of the state budget, a practice that has been too common in Richmond over the last 15 years.


“Virginians have a right to know that the tax dollars they pay for transportation are being spent only on transportation and are being spent wisely.”


Okay. Thank you, Tim.


Now, dear reader, do you see what we’re really up against?


-- August 9, 2004




















Contact Information


Barnie Day

604 Braswell Drive
Meadows of Dan, VA


E-mail: [email protected]