Kaine, GOP Lawmakers Talk Transportation

How refreshing. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Republican leaders in the General Assembly are finally talking to one another about transportation — and doing so cordially, no less. Judging by the multiple news reports, the lawmakers’ closed-door meeting yesterday was fairly productive.

Kaine must submit his amendments to HB 3202 by Monday, and the legislature has until April 4 to accept or reject them. Apparently, much of the conversation centered on finding areas of common ground.

Michael Hardy and Jeff Schapiro report in the Times-Dispatch: “The lawmakers indicated that there appeared to be major progress toward reaching a transportation agreement on a batch of regional tax and fee increases to raise more than $400 million a year for Northern Virginia and $200 million for Hampton Roads.”

Christina Nuckols reports much the same in the Virginian-Pilot: “Several of the 10 lawmakers participating in the latest meeting said they do not expect to reach compromise on every change the governor wants to make. However, they said they have agreed on most details of the regional funding plans for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.”

Seth McLaughlin at the Washington Times notes areas of continued disagreement: “Mr. Kaine opposes paying the state’s debt with money from the general fund, which primarily pays for schools, police and social services. He also has legal concerns about charging repeat driving offenders larger fines and wants to reduce or eliminate the option for Northern Virginia localities to increase the commercial real estate tax. “

If this legislation passes, my concern is that legislators will declare victory and move on to other topics. My sense is that everyone has had a belly full of the transportation issue over the past three or four years, and that there will be little appetite to follow up with a second round of reforms. While HB 3202 does do some useful things — particularly in prioritizing road projects and devolving more responsibility for secondary roads to localities — it doesn’t come close to “fixing” the problem. More roads will get built, but congestion will not improve. Taxes will rise, but they won’t prove sufficient.

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4 responses to “Kaine, GOP Lawmakers Talk Transportation”

  1. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    HB 3202 doesn’t really change the requirement for prioritizing road projects.
    Current code § 33.1-23.03. says “The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall conduct a comprehensive review of statewide transportation needs in a Statewide Transportation Plan setting forth an inventory of all construction needs for all systems, and based upon this inventory, establishing goals, objectives, and priorities covering a twenty-year planning horizon, in accordance with federal transportation planning requirements. This plan shall embrace all modes of transportation and include technological initiatives. This Statewide Transportation Plan shall be updated as needed, but no less than once every five years.” … “Each such plan shall be summarized in a public document and made available to the general public upon presentation to the Governor and General Assembly.”
    This is not just a Virginia problem. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, is taking a look at accessibility. Here is the last paragraph of the summary of “Getting There: Access and the Future of the Twin Cities Region.”

    “Over the course of this research series the remaining elements of a matrix of access opportunities will evolve—covering myriad destinations and modes of travel. This matrix will reinforce the logic that transportation and land use are overlapping, interdependent systems. Meanwhile, this first study by itself breaks new ground and raises a critical if controversial question: whether it is possible to engineer through proactive public policy a steady increase in access to destinations even as every effort is made to combat congestion.”

    In another document from the study they say “It can be concluded from this study that measures of accessibility have a statistically significant effect on home sale prices. The effects here may be understated, as there is a correlation between other attributes of a house and its accessibility. A welllocated house is likely to be improved in other aspects (e.g., square footage or bathrooms), while little investment will be made in poorly placed houses. The results highlight the importance of accessibility and how people value it.
    Cumulative opportunity measures of accessibility calculated using 20 minutes of travel
    time did show to have the highest effect on home sale prices in terms of statistical
    significance and model fitting. Place rank did show a statistically significant effect on
    home sale prices similar to the other measures. It is important to note that the difference
    between all the models in terms of explaining the variation in the home sale values (third,
    fourth, fifth and six) is minor and not large enough to say that a measure is better than the
    other in terms of explaining home sale prices. Pdf page 53

  2. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    I agree that HB 3202 is really bad but what appears to be in progress is a political marketing tool – not any meaningful solution for really dealing with reducing traffic congestion – especially commuter traffic congestion in Tidewater/HR.

    The creation of Regional Authorities is a VERY BAD thing.

    But I think the “lawmakers” are looking for a sound bite – a way to claim that they “fixed transportation”.

    It’s all B.S. – nothing was “fixed”. No really.

    The fatal flaw was buying into the fasle notion that we had a “funding crisis” – when that wasn’t really the root cause of traffic congestion.

    Those root causes remain – like cancer – to continue to spread and eventually kill their host.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Too little, too late, too wrong.

    Too bad.

  4. Groveton Avatar

    Is it just me or has Tim Kaine done nothing sunce being elected governor. He sure made a lot of promises from the caimpagn trail but he’s just done nothing.

    Also, is it just me or is he developing into the worst governor in generations?

    We’ve had good Republican governors (including George Allen before he became verbally incontinent) and, in my opinion, Doug Wilder (who, as a Democrat, vetoed a tax hike proposed by the legislature).

    What’s up with Kaine?

    He just seems terrible.

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