And Who, Exactly, Is Going to Pay for This?

Talk about a theoretical exercise! The Roanoke Times reports:

Plans for Interstate 73 cleared a major hurdle this week when a group of localities, government agencies and an advocacy group agreed to its general path from Roanoke to North Carolina. The controversial road project has been under discussion for 16 years already, and Thursday no one could predict how much longer it will take before construction money can be found and builders can begin work.

In 2001, the Virginia Department of Transportation estimated the cost at $1.3 billion, but that estimate is way outdated. While the federal government would pay for most of the project, Virginia apparently has to pony up only 20 percent of the cost. Just add it to the stack of wished-for projects that would be economically justified only when someone else pays for it.

In theory, an Interstate would boost the economies of Martinsville and Roanoke. But I’d like answers to a couple of questions. (1) What’s the economic Return on Investment analysis? (2) Could the funds generate a higher return on investment if spent in some other way? When all the boosters like up in favor of a big highway project, no one ever seems to ask those questions.

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3 responses to “And Who, Exactly, Is Going to Pay for This?”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’d like to know.. how much these studies cost and what will be done with them.. if there is no money to build them?

    Studies like this.. lose value as time goes by.. so unless something is planned for soon.. there is some waste.

    Methinks.. sometimes studies like this are merely.. to keep VDOT planners employed rather than laid-off for lack of work.

    What a novel concept.. downsize VDOT, get rid of these excess folks.. and if a road actually needs to be built.. ask the PPTA players to put something on the table.. paid for by their company and it’s investors.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Looks like a classic case of the dysfunctional nature of the CTB. How important is this new road to Virginia’s transportation priorities? Oh, that’s right, whatever a lobbyist for X, Y or Z can persuade the CTB becomes a priority.

    This is a compelling reason why no one should be listening to Kaine or Chichester until reforms are made.

    I suspect that, if this was not another dog looking for public bones, the PPTA players would be proposing something.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I-73 represents the perfect opportunity to test fly some of the interesting development concepts floated by Bacon. The communities that will be impacted remain today largely rural. How this road impacts them will be determined by how much authority the local Boards of Supervisors use foresight when granting zoning and development processes.

    Micro issue, but a starting point. Why did VDOT propose I-73 across virgin ground instead of simply redesigning sections of US 220 to bring it up to interstate standards? Oh, it’s because that would be more expensive for VDOT. It however would not be more expensive for the localities who have infrastructure aligned down this corridor already. Me thinks I-73 won’t happen in my lifetime, but it does offer a unique opportunity for Governor Kaine to shift dialogue and offer some interesting “legislative freedom” to the localities so they can create a better design pattern than just the cloverleaf hell that is NoVa.

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