Fitch “Gets It” on Transportation

GOP gubernatorial hopeful George Fitch has issued a meaty press release detailing his philosophy for dealing with Virginia’s transportation woes. The fiscal conservative totally disavows the need for tax increases–either on a state level, or through regional transportation authorities as proposed by Jerry Kilgore. Said Fitch: “Kilgore’s suggestion that new taxes may be needed is a terrible idea which Virginians have rejected again and again.”

(To be fair to Kilgore, the former Attorney General did not say that “new taxes may be needed.” He proposed setting up regional transportation authorities which, among other powers, would have the power to levy taxes. It would be more accurate to say that Kilgore’s plan would “enable” new taxes.)

Among Fitch’s observations were these:

We need a more balanced approach to transportation planning including more decision making at the local and regional level. … However, regional authorities should not have taxing authority as Jerry Kilgore suggests – just planning and more decision-making authority. Another government layer of taxing authority is too dangerous and is not necessary.

Estimates are that more than $20 billion of our unmet transportation needs could have been avoided if we had planned and coordinated growth with transportation. What we have now are large scale developments occurring where adequate infrastructure does not exist. Large subdivisions leapfrog over the countryside on narrow rural roads. High-density development is allowed to occur in villages without ensuring the infrastructure. Haymarket and Gainesville are one of many examples. To reduce these problems, the infrastructure must be in place or must be developing simultaneously with growth.


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  1. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    It is another non-answer. It is yet another idiot suggesting we can solve our problems without money. The idea that $20 billion of our unmet transportation needs could have been met with better planning is simply preposterous. Much of our unmet transportation needs has to do with commerce, workplace demographics, affluence, and population growth: which of those could we have planned away?

    There is no place that sufficient infrastructure exists. That is why the plan for Metro friendly development at Vienna includes a four lane access road. That is why the new Tyson’s at the intersection of multi-lane highways is bringing in Metro.

    Saying no growth without infrastructure is just another way of saying no. Every attempt to put in infrastructure will be met with more no’s.

    So far, the demand has been made that development provide it’s own infrastructure. Now that developers are stepping up to the plate to provide infrastructure, what will the next argument be?

    The service districts in Fauquier were planned thirty years ago and still have no services. The county has maintained it will not tax the general population to provide services to the few: infrastructure has to pay it’s own way.

    So much for regional planning at the county level. Why think that a bigger version of this will work any better? The service districts are still waiting and places that could have been developments in became sprawling single homes within the service districts because of what EMR calls dysfunctional government structures…. Who do we think we are kidding?

    And by the way, the enormous prices for new homes to cover all these demands will be reflected in everyone’s assessments.

    Apparently the only places that want growth are places that are dying, like some places in South Dakota, where they would happily put development on those little country roads.

    According to the VRE newsletter today, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana have the shortest commute times and New York City the longest, so it might be that little country roads are actually part of the answer.

    It is going to take years and years to create a balanced approach to planning, then we have to make the plans, then agree on them, then pay for them. By which times our unmet needs will be how much? I’ll say it again, life is what happens to you while you are busy making plans.

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