LeMunyon Seeks to Restructure CTB Representation

From this…

Del. Jim LeMunyon, R-Oak Hill, has proposed reorganizing representation on the Commonwealth Transportation Board to give more power to Virginia’s fast-growth areas. The idea is simple: Instead of appointing a member from each of the state’s nine transportation districts, in which Virginia’s major metro areas are under-represented, his bill would appoint a member from each of Virginia’s congressional districts.

… to this?

LeMunyon’s proposal, submitted as HB 600, would keep the size of the board constant by dropping one “rural at-large” member and one “urban at-large” member.

A new representation scheme for the CTB would come at a time when the body is wrestling with fundamental issues like the devolution of secondary roads to local governments, the fine-tuning of maintenance and funding formulas, and the approval of a slew of transportation mega-projects initiated by the McDonnell administration.

In theory, there should be a big split between the interests of Virginia’s densely populated metropolitan areas and those of the lightly populated hinterlands. In the six months I have been covering the CTB, however, I have seen little evidence of such a divide — even though I have been looking for one. (Hey, I’m a journalist — I thirst for controversy!) The CTB seems to be a collegial group with few overt conflicts. (The sole exception that I have seen was over the Charlottesville Bypass.) As a rule, only two or three board members raise uncomfortable issues or ask uncomfortable questions. It appears to be up to the discretion of the chairman, the secretary of transportation, whether or not to elevate an issue to a concrete agenda item or to assign staff time to flesh out more information. Furthermore, the governor has the authority to replace any member at will if he gets too obstreperous.

For the most part, the CTB functions as a rubber stamp for the administration, which at present happens to be the McDonnell administration. LeMunyon’s bill would represent a step forward in making the board more democratically representative of Virginia’s population, and thus should be passed. But would it make the board any less passive? Would anything change in practice? I doubt it.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and then was assigned to Sub-Committee #4. The subcommittee tabled the bill Jan. 26. However, the underlying issue — the misalignment of representation — will not go away. There is a near-universal sentiment in Northern Virginia (whether valid or not) that it gets a raw deal in the distribution of highway dollars. LeMunyon, or someone who thinks like him, will be back.

Update: Upon further reflection, appointing CTB representatives by congressional districts makes no more sense than the congressional districts themselves do. They’re all gerrymandered, for crying out loud! They don’t reflect any natural community of interest. In a better world, CTB representatives would represent organic components of human society and economy such as Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Four from NoVa, three from Hampton Roads, two from Richmond, one from Roanoke, with the balance consisting of rural, at-large members… something like that.


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28 responses to “LeMunyon Seeks to Restructure CTB Representation”

  1. VDOT’s disricts make little sense anymore. The boundaries were based on 1922 congressional districts.

    Virginia’s Planning district boundaries make more sense and the Federal MPO boundaries based on Metro Areas makes even more sense.

    this does not have to be and should not be a rural vs urban conundrum.

    a good example is devolution. Charlottesville maintains it’s own roads.. but VDOT does the county roads. Why not have the city/county be responsible?

    Most every urbanized center in Va is surrounded by suburban and rural environs and representation should, in my view, be based on that and the state should incentivize regional approaches to transportation and penalize provincial approaches.

    Pretending that Charlottesville’s interests are separate from Albemarle is not only unrealistic – it puts roadblocks in the path of they working to improve their region.

  2. Jim LeMunyon would make a good governor. He is smart and works well across the aisle. He and Delegate Mark Keam (D) have worked on a number of good government issues.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    Unelected and unaccountable … just like the MWAA.

    Since I started working in Northern Virginia (1981), National Airport has been completely refurbished. The Dulles Toll Rd has been built. Dulles Airport is being refurbished (albiet slowly). Rail to Dulles is well on the road to Phase 1 with Phase 2 in the planning stages.

    Translation: the MWAA is doing its job.

    The same cannot be said for road transportation in Northern Virginia. With a very few exceptions (such as the Wilson Bridge project) road transportation in Northern Virginia is in substantially worse condition than it was in 1981.

    As an aside, I have flown over 2 million miles on United Airlines alone. Almost all of that travel has been from Dulles and Reagan airports. I am well versed in the history and progress of the airports under MWAA management.

    Let’s review ….

    CTB and MWAA – both unelected and unaccountable

    MWAA – succeeding in its primary mission

    CTB – failing in its primary mission (at least in Northern Virginia)

    And the CTB representation was based on the 1922 population distribution? Try saying “Clown Show” three times fast.

  4. MWAA has had a number of problems with its contracting operations. GAO found MWAA’s contracting standards did “not adequately reflect competitive contracting principles and is out of date in many respects. Moreover, MWAA does not use its guidance to award contracts for non-concession goods and services. MWAA did not obtain full and open competition for 15 of the 35 contracts GAO reviewed, raising concerns about whether MWAA obtained the best value for the goods and services provided. The failure to obtain full and open competition also raises concerns about whether MWAA has (1) deprived prospective contractors of the chance to compete for contracts and (2) fairly evaluated all of the contractors that have competed for procurements. Finally, by not following recognized competitive principles, MWAA could be giving the appearance of favoritism in its contracting decisions.” GAO-02-36, Mar 1, 2002
    Delegate Bob Marshall claims that MWAA’s contracting problems have not been fixed completely. http://delegatebob.com/issues/dulles-toll-road
    The WaPo published an article (articles?) on problems within MWAA in early 2011, which was followed by a request by Congressman Frank Wolf for GAO to audit MWAA again. There has also been concern by US DOT’s Inspector General over MWAA’s cost controls for Dulles Rail.
    I agree with DJR on the CTB, but would not conclude MWAA is doing a good job beyond day-to-day operations of the two airports in NoVA.

  5. DJRippert Avatar


    “…beyond the day-to-day operations of the two airports in NoVA.”

    Well, that’s a big part of their mission. I’d also give them great credit for modernizing National Airport and getting a good start at Dulles.

    Since 2006 MWAA has operated the Dulles Toll Rd. That seems to work well. The tolls may have been raised but they are nothing compared with the VDOT / GA inspired Beltway HOT lanes.

    You cite some negative commentary about MWAA contracting. I would imagine that every public organization spending a lot of money gets some grief about contracting. The MWAA does not seem to be getting more than the usual level of criticism.

    Here’s an article from 2005 about VDOT contracting problems on I64:


    If the worst thing people can say about MWAA’s work to date is that some people have complained about their contracting approaches … well, that’s not much of a complaint.

    Which brings us to the present and Rail To Dulles. The political elite in Virginia have many complaints about MWAA on that. However, there are a few things to remember:

    1. Tim Kaine gave the RTD project to MWAA because neither he nor any of the other “heroes” in Richmond had the stones to deal with it.

    2. Virginia’s political elite hates the pro-union stance of MWAA. So, who appointed union leader Dennis Martire to the MWAA? The Governor of Virginia.

    3. There is great huffing and puffing by Cuccinelli and others about funding Phase 2. How much has the Commonwealth of Virginia funded so far? $0.

    Watching the political elites in Richmond complain about the MWAA is like watching a drunk vomit on the sidewalk, slip in his own upchuck and then scream insults at the restaurant which served him dinner earlier that night.

  6. well.. DJ’s view of MWAA and others view of it are certainly different!

    but the HOT lanes are going to be worse than the DTR tolls?

    are we defending collecting higher tolls so we can pay higher union wages?

    that sounds bad, doesn’t it?

    to be truthful here.. my understanding is that the HOT lanes are being eyed as a source of funds for METRO also – PLAs or not.

    Does anyone know if Transurban/FLuor also operate with PLAs?

  7. Don, you need to absorb what Bob Marshall said in the link provided by TMT:

    “In the 2006 General Assembly Special Session on Transportation, my bill prohibiting the sale or giving away of the Dulles Toll Road passed the House of Delegates. However, Governor Kaine succeeded in blocking this measure in the Senate Transportation Committee. Virginia had previously been offered almost $6 Billion dollars for the toll road. Instead, Governor Kaine entered into a contract with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and as a down payment for extending Metro Rail to Dulles Airport, the Commonwealth of Virginia turned over the Dulles Toll Road to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. MWAA is then supposed to construct the rail line.”

    You persist in casting the transfer of the Dulles Toll Road to MWAA as a “Richmond clown show” issue. Another way to look at it is a “Democrats vs. Republicans” issue, which in fact it was.

    Think of that — if Kaine had privatized the DTR, you guys undoubtedly would be getting toll rate increases but not as bad as what’s in store. Meanwhile, the governor could have taken the $6 billion and paid off the ENTIRE COST OF THE METRO extension! We wouldn’t have needed federal money and we could have dispensed with all the cost associated with a federal job. We could have saved money and it wouldn’t have cost Virginia taxpayers, property owners or MWAA a dime!

  8. I think that an agency or a corporation that has contracting problems is not to be ignored for criticism. This is other people’s money — taxpayers, passengers and commuters in the case of MWAA and shareowners in the case of a corporation. A full half of MWAA’s contracts were not in compliance with its own contracting policies. And it seems some of those problems continue today.
    Keep in mind that Dulles Rail is not about transportation. Every elected official, state local and federal, will tell you in an off-the-record moment that the project was hijacked by the Tysons landowners. It has been about land use density for many years.

  9. what is CTB’s (VDOT) role in this?

  10. The CTB approved raising the tolls on the DTR to pay the state’s share of construction costs. That was the request of the NoVA elected officials and business community.

  11. how about the road infrastructure to serve Tysons? What was the CTB role on that?

  12. look at the “after” Map. Some of the regions make sense but the way the regions are drawn for NoVa and the exurban commuting counties makes no sense at all.

    You can put NoVa as the core but then you need to at least recognize the commuting area around NoVa.

    Putting the Fredericksburg Area in a district with the Northern Neck as it is now – makes absolutely zero sense.

    It makes no sense to put Loudoun and Manassas in a different district from Nova.

    What we need instead is how the census people group regions according to their economic connectivity.

    the “new” map is just as arbitrarily drawn as the old one.

    and I’m betting that it was draw by folks who have no clue about how NoVa is economically connected to the exurban commuting counties arrayed around it.

    The census folks have it right. The clown show strikes out – yet again.

  13. Henrico in a district with Williamsburg and not Richmond? WTF?

    Culpeper in the same district as Richmond?

    who drew this map?

  14. Andrea Epps Avatar
    Andrea Epps

    I’m with Larry here….WTF????? Split Chesterfield between Richmond and HR? Ah, Nope!

  15. Larry, the CTB and VDOT have not made any decisions with respect to the funding of Tysons infrastructure. There is great concern, however, among Fairfax County officials, the Tysons Partnership and various community groups, including the McLean Citizens Association, about the proposed funding of a link in the so-called “Outer Beltway” that could take state funding away from Tysons. On the other hand, there seems to be great interest in the Governor’s idea for a state tax district in Tysons.
    I’ve been extremely critical of Tysons planning, but one very redeeming point is Tysons has a specific transportation plan (Table 7) that is linked to development stages. This is what every major development project should provide.

  16. TMT – does that plan have a Capital Budget with identified funding sources?

    On the transportation district. We have down our way – transportation districts with supplemental property taxes (fixed duration) to pay off the cost of the transportation infrastructure.

    Does Tysons not have such a tax?

    If the “new” Tax you speak of something different ?

  17. Tysons Table 7 has a revised capital budget, but does not yet have identified funding sources. The BoS has asked the Planning Commission to develop cost allocation and funding recommendations that will supposedly be adopted by the BoS this spring.
    The state transportation districts would capture at least a portion of gasoline and sales taxes generated within a district to help fund the added transportation facilities within the district. The concept makes sense to me. More details are necessary, however.

  18. DJRippert Avatar


    “Meanwhile, the governor could have taken the $6 billion and paid off the ENTIRE COST OF THE METRO extension!”.

    Do you really think that’s what would have happened?

    Here’s what I think would have happened.

    1. Gov and GA sell DTR
    2. Tolls are immediately raised on all DTR commuters
    3. GA squanders all funds received a la the tobacco settlement money
    4. NoVa residents pay more in tolls and get nothing in return

    Jim – you rail against the MWAA. However, the MWAA is supported by four entities – the federal government, the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    The federal government and the State of Maryland are the adults in the room. They make good appointments and refrain from generally idiotic behavior. DC is hit or miss. Virginia is the most disruptive and least useful of the four participants.

    You say the problem is Democrats vs Republicans. That’s true in Virginia. However, the bigger problem is a dysfunctional Virginia vs. the other three participants. For example, Virginia’s one term limit on governors results in a bizarre whipsawing of Virginia’s appointments to the MWAA.

    If you want to see a transportation board run exclusively by Virginia, look at the CTB. Yet another rubber stamp for the Richmond elite with representation based on 1922 population statistics.

    Wake up Jim!!

    Richmond is the problem.

  19. The CTB is not a creature of Richmond. It’s a creature of special interests, quite often land speculators. I have a good friend who is a long-time active Democrat. She told me that when Mark Warner was on the board, he originally voted to fund a road that touched real estate he owned. Later, he recused himself. I am sure GOP members have acted similarly.
    Look at the so-called Northern Corridor – a/k/a the Outer Beltway. Fairfax County refused to participate in the process. Loudoun, Facquier and Clarke Counties opposed it. There is no likely connection to I-95 or Maryland. Yet the CTB approved it. Why? Because some landowners need the road to develop. Who led the charge? Not anyone from Richmond or even RoVA. Doug Kolemay from Fairfax County was the chief advocate. He’s even on the Tysons Partnership Board. The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce is also pushing for the road. It’s good regionalism, I was told. I asked when have other county chambers urged funding for Fairfax County? Still haven’t had an answer on that one. If you dig deep enough, you will find Fairfax County principals at the heart of anything that has harmed transportation in Fairfax County.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      You have missed the point entirely.

      The CTB has substantial power over transportation in Virginia.

      The CTB representation is based on population demographics from the 1930s.

      The changes in Virginia’s population now render the CTB a wholly and totally unfair (and potentially illegal) organization.

      Several bill have been proffered this legislative session to right the obvious wrong of CTB representation. All have been killed in committee.

      Those are the facts, TMT. All of your conspiracy theories aside, those are the facts.

  20. I am not arguing the CTB doesn’t need reforms. I’ve been arguing just the opposite. My point is that people from NoVA do more harm to NoVA than any 1930s-style entity or residents from RoVA. There is a Fifth Column in NoVA.

  21. ” There is a Fifth Column in NoVA.”

    probably members of the same clan across Va who basically believe that roads are more development venues than transportation arteries.

    but realistically – when you have ANY entity LIKE CTB where there is geographic representation – their collective core mission is for each of them to look out for their respective jurisdictions in dividing up whatever is allocated.

    Only rarely has CTB asserted itself in areas of state policy.

    For instance the increased emphasis on access management and/or functional classification of roads or devolution has more bubbled up from within VDOT than promulgated as Va Transportation Policy from the CTB.

    they basically are the guards for each of their represented localities financial interests than much else.

  22. Larry, I have no problem with people looking out for their own interests. What I call the “5th Column” are those people who, while living in an area and mouthing support for the people and businesses located in such area, actively work for interests that counter those of their so-called constituents.
    For example, I have no problem with downstate legislators voting to take education money from Fairfax County. I despise those representatives from Fairfax County that vote to accomplish the taking.
    This is the point where DJR and I part company. He hates those in Richmond who screw Fairfax County. I hate those from Fairfax County who screw Fairfax County.
    Vince Callahan and Janet Howell have showed me multiple areas where Fairfax County officials had more land use and transportation authority than they are willing to use. I see the problem as those who will not use the powers that they have to benefit the county, rather than those who prevent Fairfax County from having more transportation and land use powers. Just two different perspectives.

  23. TMT. well… I just don’t know what to think about the school thing because the money is money from sales taxes which Va collects but then chooses to re-allocate in a way that they believe provides equal opportunity to all kids regardless of where they live geographically. Every state has some version of this and the courts have ruled that states are bound by their Constitutions to treat all kids equally.

    I don’t think the money ever belonged to Fairfax to start with and I don’t think that same money collected in Fredericksburg or Roanoke belongs to those localities either. It’s a special statewide tax for education.

    I’m not opposed to it being done in a different way but essentially what it is – is a tax on each person that is then allocated on an equal basis to each kid – in theory – and as long as it is tied to an educational standard like SOQs I think it’s fundamentally fair and correct with the proviso that perhaps the calculation itself needs updating because I would agree that too many districts receive more money than their wealth seems to indicate they are entitled to.

    on the second issue….yes.. it’s clear that there are options available and not used for localities including Fairfax to collect more taxes for transportation and to take more responsibility for Transportation and land-use but they prefer to continue their “blame the state”, “there is nothing we can do” approach.

    It’s amusing to me that when people say that some function – often transportation is a “core” State responsibility that what they’re doing is essentially wanting the state to raise taxes rather than the locality.

    they want the state to get the blame for raising taxes but they sure want their share of the increased tax revenues.

    We’ve got some clear answers on this. Most people do no want to pay higher state level gas taxes but those same folks have often approved local referenda for transportation improvements.

    Localities collect taxes on vehicles but don’t spend it on transportation.

  24. Larry, my point about school funding is that things will never change significantly for Fairfax County. We will always be a big donor county for state aid to K-12. That tells me we should recognize this and cut our losses by not pushing for more state funding for public schools.
    Turning to transportation, much of rural Virginia has adequate transportation facilities for their needs. They are not going to increase taxes because why pay more when things are fine. People in other parts of the state have need for more transportation facilities and maintenance. But most of them don’t believe that the money they pay today is spent to benefit them. I don’t. Didn’t both Tidewater and NoVA reject Warner’s sales tax increase for transportation? They did for a variety of reasons, but many felt transportation funding is used as a slush fund for land speculators and that VDOT often builds things that don’t reduce traffic congestion or improve safety.
    I had breakfast yesterday with a good friend who is a good Democrat and wants to raise taxes for transportation, but could not explain why taxpayers should trust the system. Now he would support LeMunyon’s bill to rank transportation projects; make overweight trucks pay their way; reform the CTB; and impose a tough adequate public facilities law. He even would like to see major reforms for MWAA. We agree on what’s needed, but also that the reforms are not likely to occur. So, from my perspective, why should I pay more of my income to support a slush fund for certain well-positioned developers?
    I think it would be possible to persuade people to pay higher taxes for transportation with major reforms in place. But without the reforms, we are still where we were about 10 years ago. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have protections that protect taxpayers, rather than fund land speculators.

  25. yeah.. we understand each other positions and they are similar.

    the proposed new VDOT district map is bogus…IMHO.

    I think NoVa could become a tolling model for the nations other urban areas and that – that money COULD be used for other transportation infrastructure but I’m not convinced that by tolling the beltway won’t cause changes in traffic demand in NoVa.

    I don’t think you have to worry about paying more to the state of Va for more gasoline taxes.. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. But I also think the same will be true with the Fed Gas tax and that’s gonna be bad news because we currently spend about twice what that tax brings in and the Congress Critters want that to stop – and that means a lot less major projects of the kind that NoVa might desire.

  26. jlemunyon Avatar

    Thanks for the mention and many comments. HB602 and other CTB-related bills have been combined into a revised version of HB864 offered by Del. Tom Rust. Please note the goal is to provide Northern Virginia with better representation on the CTB rather than address other issues in this bill.

    Also, readers may be interested in a recent op-edI wrote about Dulles Rail at: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120201/OPINION/702019360/1065/dulles-rail-needs-a-realistic-financing-plan&template=fairfaxTimes

    Jim LeMunyon

  27. I do not know where the new map came from or how closely it is related to the proposed legislation but that map tends to reflect a NoVa centric view that is ignorant of RoVa in terms of how counties and jurisdictions should be grouped and associated.

    If I were a rep of the Fredericksburg or Richmond area and I though this map was part of the legislation, I’d be adamantly opposed to it and very concerned that very little thought went into the proposal in terms of how it would affect the rest of Virginia.

    What you want – is legislation that makes things more relevant and “better” not only for NoVa but for RoVa and that map is just plain terrible.

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