Bacon Bits from the September CTB Meeting

Reporting from the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting in Winchester:

Quote of the day: Think the McDonnell administration isn’t doing enough to address Northern Virginia’s transportation needs? Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has this response: “Eighty percent of the construction work going on in the Washington region is occurring in Northern Virginia.”

Oddity of the day: We’re all familiar, or think we are, with the classic modes of transportation funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia: cars, trucks, buses, trains, bicycles and foot… Let us not forget horse-drawn buggies! The Harrisoburg-Rockingham County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which serves a large Mennonite population, lists among its transportation assets the Dayton/Bridgewater Buggy Path.

Outburst of the day: Shep Miller, at-large urban representative of the CTB, is unhappy with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s heavy reliance upon tolls to pay for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads mega-projects while other parts of the state get off toll-free. “I discard the view that tolls are necessary. It’s inequitable. It’s unfair. It’s the wrong thing to do.”


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  1. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Ho-hum. Got any real news?


  2. DJRippert Avatar

    “Quote of the day: Think the McDonnell administration isn’t doing enough to address Northern Virginia’s transportation needs? Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has this response: ”Eighty percent of the construction work going on in the Washington region is occurring in Northern Virginia.”

    If that’s really his verbatim quote then this guy isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    1. Construction – For the sake of argument, let’s assume he means transportation construction. Clarity of speech is, perhaps, not one of Sean’s strengths.

    2. Percentage of construction in the Washington region. So, if Maryland and DC stopped road construction, that would mark a victory for the McDonnell Administration? Nice spin by a McDonnell lackey.

    3. Who is paying for the construction? The fact that construction is occurring has no particular significance for McDonnell. The state of Virginia has contributed – what – $150M of $5B for Rail to Dulles? No doubt the spin meister Connaughton counts the whole spend on RTD as part of his 80%.

    4. Tolls – McDonnell isn’t helping NoVa when he “builds roads” with $5 per mile tolls. Sorry, Jim Shep Miller is right. It is inequitable, it is unfair and it is the wrong thing to do.

    As far as calling Shep Miller’s comments an “outburst” – are you reporting or editorializing? You seem to have some issues with regard to which of these approaches you are using at any given time.

    1. Lighten up, Don! It was an outburst in the sense that Shep’s statement was not apropos of anything in the agenda, that he spoke with great force (he’s a large, physically imposing guy), and that no one followed up. His comments just hung out there alone.

      I quoted Shep because he is one of the few members of the CTB to speak his mind forcefully — and also because he’s a McDonnell appointee. His statement seems to be an implicit criticism of the McDonnell administration’s reliance on tolls, although I can’t imagine him criticizing the governor personally.

  3. Leesburg Today

    “Board Doesn’t Back Potomac River Bridge Study”
    Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 9:44 pm

    “After hearing the pleas of Broad Run Farms residents and failing to find consensus on alternative plans, the Board of Supervisors tonight tabled a motion that would have encouraged the General Assembly to study a new Potomac River crossing.

    “In developing its priority list for next year’s General Assembly session, the board was poised to support legislation that would authorize a study of extending Rt. 28 from its terminus at Rt. 7 north to Maryland.

    “Residents of Broad Run Farms, one of Loudoun’s oldest subdivisions, turned out during the board’s public comment section to strongly object to the proposal. In addition to having the highway cut through their neighborhood, they cited concerns over construction disturbing land near the Hidden Lane Landfill, a Superfund site know to be leaking toxic materials.

    “To address those concerns, Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) introduced a motion supporting the study, but without a link to the Rt. 28 corridor. Supporters of the effort attempted to narrow the study area to land between University Center and the wide swath of power line right of way near Leesburg.

    “That didn’t go far enough to win a majority.

    “’omebody tell me which neighborhood in Loudoun County you want to take out to put the bridge in,’County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) said, noting that any river crossing option would pass near one existing community or another. He suggested the board pursue a tunnel instead.

    “Supervisors discussed various ways to word its support for some form of bridge/tunnel study, but a motion by Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) to table the issue passed on a 7-2 vote, with Williams and Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) opposed.

    “Unless a supervisor raises the issue again, the board will enter the 2013 assembly session without a formal position to support or oppose any legislation that may be introduced on the subject.

    “Also on Tuesday, supervisors gave their unanimous support behind a proposal to seek authority to impose an admissions tax on ticket sales at a professional sports stadium. Such a tax could be used to create a revenue stream needed by the Loudoun Hounds baseball group to finance construction of its planned stadium on the Kincora property in eastern Loudoun.”

  4. ” It’s inequitable. It’s unfair. It’s the wrong thing to do.”

    and the correct answer is?

    it’s easy to be opposed to something. what does he favor?

  5. I still do not understand what it is that NoVa needs in the way of transportation infrastructure.

    The NoVa road system has to be one of the largest in terms of lane miles in the State.

    Where would you put more highways? Looking at a map, it looks to be
    almost impossible to add any major new roads.

    So what is it that NoVa needs that it has not got?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      It was “impossible” to widen the Beltway until the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond gave the job to Flour – Transurban. After that, it became not only possible but it was done in record time.

  6. it was not “impossible”. It could not be done as long as NoVa was in non-attainment status unless it would enhance more use of HOV.

    The “clown show” could not have added capacity to NoVa roads as long as NoVa air quality failed to meet minimum standards.

    so adding lanes to the beltway is the only real new transportation infrastructure that will help NoVa?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Larry –

      Here is what you wrote ….

      “Where would you put more highways? Looking at a map, it looks to be
      almost impossible to add any major new roads.”.

      You didn’t say anything about air quality or anything like that. You said there is no space. Then, I pointed out that Flour – Transurban seemed able to find the space that the Clown Show could not find. Unable to defend your first argument, you slithered to new argument.

      1. Well, no DJ. I assumed that those who say more is needed thought more than an expanded beltway was needed since that was going to happen ONLY if it met air quality constraints.

        What else is needed?

        or was that it and you wanted it as free lanes and not tolls and nothing else?

        If set aside the beltway – then are there other major roads that would help NoVa congestion – even possible?

        I can see some widenings here and there and maybe some bottlenecks addressed but in terms of adding net regional capacity, is it even really possible?

        no slithering..just asking… I’m sure TMT has a view.

  7. Hey, I’m in favor of building more buggy paths!

  8. It is my understanding that federal air quality standards significantly limit the ability to build additional general purpose lanes on some of the D.C. areas major roadways. Projects that create significant increases in SOV volumes may have difficulty in obtaining federal approval.

    There is also a strong tension between building road improvements that could move more traffic and neighbors who see nothing but negative impacts from those same road improvements. For example, Tysons requires a widening of the Dulles Toll Road by as many as three-to-five lanes between Tysons and Reston-Herndon and the construction of as many as three fly-overs/ramps between Tysons and the DTR. There will be huge battles over the construction of these facilities when they are proposed for construction even though an urban Tysons requires them. Indeed, one of the leading lawyers for the Tysons landowners has said privately he doesn’t believe these facilities can be constructed due to environmental, financial and political reasons. We are not living in the 1970s any more.

    BTW, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to oppose any study of a new Potomac River crossing to connect the western leg of the “Outer Beltway” to Maryland because of the likely impacts on established neighborhoods. It sounds as if nothing short of a tunnel will fly.

  9. the operative phrase is “capacity adding”.

    this was the basis of the Arlington lawsuit – their claim that the HOT lanes would increase surface street traffic – further worsening air quality in Arlington.

    so EPA would allow improvements that would reduce congestion, improve air quality but not add capacity if in doing so – it would worsen regional air quality.

    Now there are a number of folks who say the Hell with air quality but the American Lung Associated and other organizations who advocate for those who suffer health effects from bad air quality are not among them.

    Now, all of this could change if the GOP gets in charge.

    I also heard that Md is looking into extending the beltway HOT lanes into Md. Anyone else heard that?

  10. I haven’t heard anything, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground.

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