Rail-to-Dulles Prairie Fire

The grassroots rebellion against the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s mandatory Project Labor Agreement for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is gaining momentum. The Loudoun County Republican Commitee has called upon the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and General Assembly representatives to “oppose mandatory PLA provisions or union-driven rules in the final agreement with the MWAA.”

The Republican resolution follows the introduction of a bill by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas, to prohibit the use of state revenues for construction of Phase 2 if (1) the project is subject to a Project Labor Agreement, (2) MWAA’s Freedom of Information Act policies are inconsistent with Virginia’s, or (3) the project is not subject to state audit. (For details, see my post on Marshall’s bill.)

Marshall personally addressed the Loudoun Republican committee and made the case that full MWAA transparency should be a precondition for the state to fork over another $150 million, as called for in a recent Memorandum of Agreement signed by MWAA and the McDonnell administration. The wording of his bill was reflected in the resolution.

According to my sources, David LaRock and Sally Mann, Loudoun County Chairman Scott York spoke in favor of the resolution, as did Del. Joe T. May, R-Leesburg. Sen.-elect Dick Black is drafting a comparable bill to submit to the Senate. This issue is not going away. The McDonnell administration could have a real fight on its hands come January. I don’t envy the governor, who inherited the Rail-to-Dulles mess from the Kaine administration, but he’s stuck with it. He needs to hold MWAA accountable.

Some of my friends in the Smart Growth movement may wonder why I seem to hell bent on highlighting the PLA issue. The answer is simple. I believe in mass transit. We need mass transit. But mass transit is subject to massive cost overruns and operating subsidies that Virginia cannot now afford and certainly will not be able to afford in the future. If we want to see more mass transit in Virginia’s future, we have to bring the capital and operating costs under control. That means holding groups like the MWAA accountable and making sure it doesn’t negotiate sweetheart deals with labor unions that potentially could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.


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26 responses to “Rail-to-Dulles Prairie Fire”

  1. Why in gods name would you want to see more mass transit in Virginia’s future if it depends on an endless stream of subsidies and a nearly endless stream of capital payments, Wichita if ever paid will be replaced by new ones?

    On top of which, this whole hose of cards depends on subsidies from the very auto transport you hope to replace.

    Has anyone EVER calculated what metro fares would look like absent the subsidy from auto gas tax and parking fees?

    How does $2.90 per mile sound?

  2. Really, $2.90 per mile.

    You want to talk about true locational costs? Really?

  3. The PLA costs in this are minimal.

    Get competitive bids with and out pla. You will be astonished at how small.the difference is.

  4. Think about it. The non-pla bidders will be the shysters, in it for all they can get.

    The place bidders have already accepted a handicap, and now they needs to be creative to cut other cost s ……..

    1. HardHatMommy Avatar

      Hi Hydra,
      Most major projects in our area have been built without a PLA – meaning both union and non-union were freely able to bid on the work, and ultimately, work side by side. Without a PLA, nobody is given special advantage – the best team wins.

      Back in the spring MWAA’s Dennis Martire (labor union executive) was quoted saying that the mandatory PLA on Phase 2 really boils down to where the workforce comes from – (the union hall or the employees of non-union construction firms). I feel like a broken record, but 96% of the construction workers in Virginia are not in a union. If you were a non-union contractor, would you want to bid on work that forced you to hire from a union hiring hall instead of using your own workers that you’ve trained and developed?

      PLAs absolutely drive the cost of these projects up. Mandated PLAs HURT taxpayers, workers, small businesses (particularly hard hit are disadvantaged businesses), and a some big contractors who just don’t bid on PLA jobs. Mandated PLAs HELP union bosses and their slush funds and some of the gigantic corporations that find competitive advantage in bidding on PLA work (where there is less competition). This isn’t an issue the public gets upset about because it is so complex, but when you do understand how much it hurts working people and taxpayers, I think it’s a hard issue to ignore and one that deserves attention.

  5. Hydra has a good point. We don’t wants roads or developers subsidized but it’s okay for transit.

    some care to take on that irony?

  6. At rush hour, the Beltway congestion toll will rise to $5/Mi. $2.90 per mile sounds cheap in comparison.

    You can’t freeze a critical transportation tax at 1986 levels and expect anything other than transportation chaos in fast growing areas.

    Now, the tax is still frozen and the predictable chaos is upon us.

    Men and women of action are scrambling to keep the chaos from becoming a complete catastrophe. McDonnell is borrowing money because he can’t get the Clown Show to raise sufficient revenue for growth. Connaughton is bull rushing 20 year old plans like the Rt 29 bypass into reality. MWAA is taxing what it can tax to get mass transit done.

    Are mistakes being made? No doubt. That’s what happens when the Clown Shows creates a crisis through 25 years of gross incompetence and culpable negligence.

    Where are Dick Saslaw, Bob Marshall or Janet Howell with their alternative plans? They have none. They are among the timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. They would rather stand on the sidelines and shout insults at the courageous people who are actually trying to undo the calamity they have created.

    Where are the critics on this blog? They are advocating changes that would take generations to accomplish (revamped human settlement patterns), practicing full scale NIMBY-ism (bypass my area and sprawl elsewhere), or rambling about lopsided ideas that only a fool would accept (take responsibility for your own costs but don’t have authority for the revenues required to meet those costs).

    Virginia’s political class has a long and infamous history of staggering slack jawed into one crisis after another. From the over-planting of tobacco to succession (except for the right minded people of what is now West Virginia) to being the capital of the confederacy to massive resistance to today’s crack-like addiction to federal spending with no Plan B for when the spending slows.

    Disgraceful, just plain disgraceful.

  7. Daniel D. Avatar

    It’s good to see that this is getting some traction in Richmond, hopefully we will see the new 9-0 Republican majority on the Loudoun Board of Supervisors kill this plan. Loudoun is supposed to pay $300 million up-front, with untold cost over-runs, operating expenses, and interest on debt probably bringing the total costs closer to $1 billion.

    Loudoun already has the highest tax rate in the region, and $1.414 billion in debt. The county’s own ‘experts’ say adding metro would only re-locate, not increase economic development.

    And what does Loudoun get out of this ‘deal’? Less than three miles of track to two stations past the airport. One of those locations already has a fully operational commuter bus route that is faster and cheaper than the metro will be, so no gain there.

    Loudoun needs to opt out of this project AG Ken Cuccinelli calls a “boondoggle.”

  8. Mistakes? Mistakes like counting the cost of the $53 millionRt 28 Dulles Rail parking garage twice, mistakes like the actual $82 million price of the Rt 28 Dulles Rail station being TWICE what a Metro station costs – AFTER price overruns – in posh Fairfield, Connecticut. But notice that no mistakes were made in covering those facts up. They are pointedly ignored to this day by our ‘leaders’ and their complicit media! This is happeneing – so what ELSE is happening? But the People just stare, like cows chewing their cud.

    This one little local rail line is stressing the region, and the state, and even the federal government. How are more of these nightmares supposed to be funded? Somebody should ask Gerry Connolly, because he is pushing for another such boondoggle going to Woodbridge. Isn’t that great.

    We just had an election in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. The biggest issue by far in Fairfax county was the School Board. But where is the evidence of the value of this costly education? Outrageously bloated costs are paraded before the People, and the People just stare. $136 million suddenly changes to $82 million, and almost nobody even notices. $82 million is easily two times too much, but nobody protests or questions. And the media is very clearly complicit, even going so far as to point out that they -want- this boondoggle, so they can drag their luggage onto a slow local train, and go to Dulles Airport, and fly away to Paris – and stay there, instead of returning to this nightmare, I suppose. And the supposedly educated people of this rgion… stare, like cows eating grass in a field. These supposedly highly educated people accept the lies they ar handed because thy have no clue, they were taught maybe to read and write, and maybe to add and subtract… but certainly not to think, not to examine, not to consider – only to depend on others to know, to think, to plan. And never to reconsider, even when the lies pile up into mountains, when the story dances and changes, when forty years of supposed planning result in a mess on the scale of Dulles Rail.

    In both instances, the problem is Big Money. Big Money wants expensive and ineffective education, just as it wants expensive and very profitable local rail. And when nobody notices $53 million dollar blunders and 2:1 overcosting, there is plenty of money available to pay for propaganda, too. I’d say it’s time to follow all of that money, and see where it goes.

  9. Bob:

    I use categories for the arguments about transportation in Northern Virginia.

    1. Screw it. This class of argument holds that the problems are observable but no new or different action needs to be taken. Generally, this argument is put forth by those who are either retired or close to retirement. Alternately, they work at home and have little need for regular commuting. The key benefit is tax containment.

    2. Pave it. This class of argument holds that building more and bigger roads with perhaps some improvements in land use policy is the way to go. The less useful form of this argument holds that our largely ineffective General Assembly will raise the gas tax and fund the paving. The hallmark of this argument is fairness. If Northern Virginia pays a disproportionate share of Virginia’s taxes then why shouldn’t it get a disproportionate share of transportation funds? The alternate form of this argument is “user fees”. This argument is observably unfair sine only some users are ever asked to pay fees. However, it has the practicality of bypassing our largely useless General Assembly. Sell the Beltway to Transurban. Pass on the Rail to Dulles problem to MWAA.

    3. Reform it. This largely academic argument holds that there is an almost magical combination of shared vehicles, land use reform, mass transit and tax policy which will solve not only transportation problems but many other societal problems. This argument has the benefit of probably being right over the long term. It suffers from the challenge of being implemented any time soon. It is also extremely expensive.

    4. Just do it. This argument has no basis in academics or policy theory. It holds that being the worst traffic locale in the Unites States will cripple the locality once the federal money starts to slow. Under this argument, inefficiency is the cost of inaction. Money will be wasted and criticism will be high. However, the amount of money wasted will pale in comparison to the economic loss of Northern Virginia becoming the next Detroit, Buffalo or Martinsville.

    I am an adherent of argument number 4. While there has been plenty of time to address our growing and predictable problems over the 52 years I have lived here, the problems were not addressed. We are always cites as having the worst traffic congestion in the country (with the possible exception of LA – a locality in full failure). It would have been nice to do things right but that would have required steady progress. Instead, our political leaders failed us and we now face crisis.

    As for being able to add or subtract, I think you would find my math skills more than adequate.

    The question isn’t add or subtract, its act or continue to be frozen like deer in the headlights. I choose act.

  10. “Just Do It” will not work because their is a need to make sure we are funding projects that provide actual improvements in traffic flow and safety. The same “good-ole boy” process that permeates the General Assembly controls transportation. There is no evidence that any projects funded will actually be the most important projects. Indeed, the history of Virginia suggests the opposite is true.
    Example, Tysons. We say Tysons is a critical economic engine for the entire state. Therefore, we are spending billions on rail and tens of millions on planning to allow Tysons to be redeveloped and become even more vibrant economically. Moreover, Tysons has one of the few true transportation plans in Virginia. Table 7 to the Comp Plan revisions lays out the road improvements needed and with a timeline. The costs are enormous. So what does the CTB do? It resurrects the Tri-County Parkway. Another route to Dulles Airport. How much economic growth will the TCP produce? How much additional tax revenues? No one knows!!!
    But it’s immaterial. CTB funds projects based on lobbying and the Good Ole Boy rules. Crony Capitalism in Spades!!!
    There is talk of applying tolls to the Dulles Airport Access Road. OK. So then, why does the CTB plan to build another free road to the Airport? Why not build a toll road? Because the TCP has darn little to do with Airport access and everything to do with enriching a few land speculators who believe they have been unfairly treated. It never used to be this hard to get tax dollars allocated to their use. They bought land in good faith based on the assumption that they would be able to manipulate the process to get taxpayers to build roads near their landholdings. And now, citizens are challenging them and insisting that taxpayers fund projects that ease their commute.
    We need a plan that prioritizes transportation projects based on their return to taxpayers in terms of improved safety and decreased traffic congestion. We need to fund transit projects that produce similar returns. We need to use other tools (Traffic Demand Management) when they produce better returns than paving. We don’t have that. We have Crony Capitalism.
    In the absence of a sound plan based on engineering and economics, we could double the gas tax, impose a surrogate on non-gas powered vehicles, index both taxes, get rid of the taxpayer giveaway to heavy trucks, and ten years from now, we would be close to where we are today. Pouring higher taxes into the existing, broken system is like giving $10 to a bum on the street and wondering whether he will chose to buy alcohol or a meal.
    I don’t see my position as being at odds with Action. I just want to see Action produce benefits to the public who pays for the Action.

  11. I’m not sure NoVa is any better or any worse – in a material way – than many other urbanized metro areas.

    the problem is basically that there are more cars (especially SOLO cars at rush hour) than there is available capacity.

    the “do it ” mentality is not realistic when you look at how you’d add significant additional capacity to urbanized road networks.

    you basically will have to buy already-developed, tax-paying businesses and replace them with lanes that will cost as much as 100 million a mile (that’s what the recently-completed Md ICC cost)….

    where would you get this money?

    The ICC in Md – an 18 mile road that will cost 3 billion dollars has sent Maryland’s transportation budget into a tailspin and now Maryland is raising tolls on other roads and proposing to increase the gas tax – to pay back the cost of the road.

    Why would Fairfax and NoVa end up any different?

    The current approach – to discourage SOV cars at rush hour is not a wonderful solution but the alternative of trying to build more roads like the ICC would put in in the same category as Metro to Dulles…

    As soon as someone says that Va should raise the gas tax – so NoVa can build more roads.. you can bet Hampton Roads will be right there elbowing NoVa to get the state to pay for their “critically-needed” bridges and tunnels that are the “economic lifeblood” of Va.

    just as aside – I’ve been to NoVa …many times… and my “take” is this.

    If you go to NoVa outside of rush hour..there is no Chaos….. but if you go there at rush hour… Chaos is an insufficient description.

    but as I said as the start… even though NoVa ranks first.. or second or third in the nation for congestion… it is not significantly worse than Houston, LA, NY, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, etc.. they’re all about the same and they all suffer from the same problem: too many cars for the available capacity….. adding capacity means tearing down tax-paying commercial businesses… and the funding for doing that is… just not realistically available even with a gas tax increase because… of the numbers.

    one penny on fuel in Va will generate about 50 million dollars a year.

    that kind of money would buy exactly 1/2 mile of the Md. ICC …..

    the numbers don’t work.

  12. Any entity (that should exist on a fee for service basis) that requires confiscation of public money to stay afloat should be terminated. Rail-to-Dulles could have been funded using a increase in the Dulles airport’s user fee (say $15 or even $20 instead of $10 per ticket). Who would see that tiny increase in a $1,700 ticket price for an international flight or a $600 ticket price on a domestic flight?

    As it is now, the increase in tolls has driven the traffic onto Routes 7 and 123, just as the HOV restrictions on I 66 has driven traffic onto Routes 123/George Washington Memorial Parkway and RT 50/29. I can’t wait to see the local roads when the tolls get to be $17 round trip or more. [/sarcasm]

    As for the increase in tolls to pay for the construction of Rail-to-Dulles, I believe that 1) Under Virginia’s “Dillon Rule” MWAA does not have the authority to tax. 2) Any diversion of a fee for a service (toll in this case) away from the intended purpose of the fee (maintenance and administration of the toll road) is a tax. 3) Therefore MWAA is in violation of the law.

  13. “Any entity (that should exist on a fee for service basis) that requires confiscation of public money to stay afloat should be terminated. ”

    this apply to VDOT also?


  14. Groveton Avatar

    TMT –

    How many decades have passed without either the state or local government creating the plans you desire? Why would you now think that such plans will suddenly be created?

    Northern Virginia faces an impending economic crisis based on federal spending cuts. Only a large new shooting war will change that.

    Northern Virginia often has the worst traffic congestion in the United States. This is a testament to the incompetence of our various governments.

    Talented people will not remain in Northern Virginia to build new, non-federal businesses given the poor quality of life occasioned by the transportation chaos caused by the political class’ incompetence.

    Some people and entities are doing things to rectify the situation. They are ugly answers to the ugly questions left unanswered by decades of political class neglect.

    Your arguments fall into the “Reform It” class of arguments. You know the political class in Virginia is incapable of the reforms you suggest. Therefore, I sometimes wonder if you are really a “Screw it” in “Reform it’s” clothing.

    Publius also operates in “Reform It” mode. There is nothing wrong with this mode if there is any practical chance of the reform actually happening. For example, “Any entity (that should exist on a fee for service basis) that requires confiscation of public money to stay afloat should be terminated. ”. This could be rather easily accomplished in Virginia. A car’s mileage is recorded each time it is inspected. Therefore, the miles driven each year can be determined at each inspection point. Send each driver a “miles driven” tax and pay for all transportation costs with that tax.

    You could refine the system from there. You could adjust the tax for the weight of the vehicle for example. You could allow anybody who feels that they do a lot of out-of-state driving the opportunity to put a tracking device in their car and give them a rebate for out-of-state miles. Progressive Insurance uses its Snapshot product to capture continuous GPS coverage of a driver’s location and driving habits in order to offer cheaper insurance to safer drives. The product is offered in 39 states … including Virginia.

    My point is that there are many way to “skin the transportation cat”. However, there are no visible ways to “skin the incompetent government cat”.

    If NoVa is to weather the coming federal cuts it will require us to transform from a government-centric locality to a more balanced government – commercial entity.

    This will not happen because the “politicians for life” we constantly re-elect change their spots. Like their counterparts in the Detroit of the 1970s and 1980s, they will never change their spots. They will never embrace reform.

    The only practical answer is end runs around the entrenched political idiots. Ugly end runs. Inefficient end runs. End runs like MWAA and Rail To Dulles.

    For all you reformers out there – I’d love to see one practical plan for achieving reform. I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve studied Virginia history all my life. Virginia is the last to reform. From big issues like being among the last to end segregation, to smaller points like being among the last to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, etc. You are fooling yourself if you think the entrenched political class will start reforming itself now.

    Ugly, inefficient end runs around the ineffective political class in Virginia are the only realistic hope.

  15. Groveton, I fully understand your argument, but I still struggle with your argument. You stated (correctly) the political class will not reform and make the right decisions. Yet, Action requires the political class to make the right decisions. I don’t see much difference in the Actors whether they are working in Richmond or in the Government Center in Fairfax.
    We need the road improvements for Tysons to work. The CTB just decided to make the Tri-County Parkway a priority. The Outer Beltway, if you prefer. But did we even hear a cry of protest from the Fairfax County BoS? No! Give the BoS more money and we are not likely to see improvements that will provide the best return on the investment for the public.
    Did we hear protests from the BoS when Kaine turned over the DTR to MWAA? No! Did we hear any protest when the CTB agreed with MWAA to impose most of the rail costs on DTR users? No! When a developer is involved, Fairfax County will not make the right decisions on transportation. Even when that developer is working outside the county.

    1. Groveton Avatar


      At this point, I feel that even half-assed decisions are better than no decisions. Rail to Dulles is a good idea in my opinion. The way it’s being implemented may be half-assed but that’s better than going into a stall. Punishing the DTR commuters is a half-assed way to get the job done but at least they are trying to get the job done. Which is considerably more than I can say for Kaine, the GA or FC BoS. Yet, as always, it’s the few with the balls to try who get all the flack.

      As for the boogie – man developers. They didn’t freeze the gas tax for 25 years and then wonder why there’s transportation chaos in Northern Virginia.

  16. the trouble with “the political class sucks” argument is first that it includes not only the State but locals and second.. what is your alternative -the private sector?

    Groveton’s complain is rampant now days as more and more people blame the govt for not doing what they want it to do.

    The only problem is.. they don’t all agree on what the govt should do and the range of “wants” is huge – from “get the govt out of the business of govt” to … have govt tax the hell out of people to pay for things we need.

    Groveton has portrayed himself in the past as a business-owning,small-govt, fiscally conservative guy.

    but more and more he talks like a tax & spender…

    for instance, instead of advocating local responsibility for local issues like traffic congestion – he apparently wants the state to raise taxes on everyone and then take that money away from them and send it to NoVa … ostensibly because NoVa actually subsidies RoVa and RoVa owes homage to NoVa for this selfless gesture.

    so what I get here is an advocacy for a big govt solution but alas big govt is just to damned incompetent….to get the job done and apparently that rules out the option of the locality itself taking the bull by the horns.

    so the very first question I have is how many people in NoVa would sign on to having their car outfitted with a GPS that communicates with state agencies?

    I think we know the answer to this but the suggested solution here is to have the state do that deed…..

    here’s my solution.

    Lobby the state for more local authority…. and take that responsibility at the local level including directly dealing with local voters on the issue.

    The current narrative is just another variant of the locality doing what it wants to do … and then blaming the State for the consequences of their own decisions.

    Don’t get me wrong.

    I DO BELIEVE the STATE ….DOES HAVE responsibilities when it comes to transportation – primarily roads of statewide significance.

    The Feds have divided up our regions into MPO – Metropolitan Policy Organizations…

    these entities are represented by the local govts in a region (like NOVA) and they are mandated by law to put together short range and long range CONSTRAINED transportation plans.

    this does two things:

    1. – it forces a list of projects that have identified funding …i.e. no wish lists

    2. – it forces regional prioritization of projects based on available funding.

    it’s the perfect governance for a place like NoVa – much better than the “clown show” in Richmond … but somehow we can’t do business without blaming Richmond anyhow.

    1. Groveton Avatar


      I don’t speak sheep so I’ll have to write this in English. Sorry. I don’t portray myself as any one thing because I am not any one thing. I won’t be herded by the liberals, conservatives, Democrats or Republicans.

      I trust the local government in Fairfax County more than I trust the state government in Richmond. Period. Therefore, I’d like more of my tax money to be controlled and spent locally. I realize that a wealthy locality like Fairfax County has to help support less wealthy communities. Fine. We send our tithe to Richmond for distribution to wherever but, then, that’s it. The rest is our money to raise and spend however we want.

  17. re: “sheep”… fair enough…

    I’ve often heard you speak of “libtards”…. so what is your equivalent name for conservatives?

    and Groveton, my man… you SOUND surprisingly LIKE said Libtards of late.


    but you also are Jekyll-Hyde when it comes to transportation.

    You clearly blame the Clown Show for not increasing taxes for transportation rather than your own elected – who do have that option either by increasing property taxes and/or referenda.

    so you do have the tools you need… maybe not every last one you want… but you do have the ability to tax and spend more for transportation rather than expecting the clown show to “rescue” you.

    forgive me for poking you on this issue.. but you are so …..soooooo pokeable!

  18. You know ….ask Darrell…. Hampton Roads has the exact same attitude about transportation that NoVa does – in that they believe since they host the ports authority and the Navy that they believe that RoVa – AND NoVa should help them build their tunnels and bridges…

    …and Charlottesville?

    well of course.. if they have to have a bypass..they don’t want it to come out of their funds….

    and VPI? of course they expect the state to build 4-lane freeways from I-81 to their campus…

    I’m NOT for balkanization.. I DO believe there is a legitimate state function for transportation but the way the system currently operates is part and parcel of the problem and people know it and for that reason.. it’s not the clown show that refuses to raise taxes – they are listening to their constituents and every election – those who say we should raise the gas tax are targeted …. usually to electoral oblivion…

    the Pols in Richmond are listening to voters.

    they took a poll down Hampton Roads way on this issue and guess what – people in Hampton Roads are OPPOSED to increases in the gas tax.

    seems like I remember a poll in NoVa with the same results.

  19. Just spending money on any transportation project in NoVA is like Major General Ambrose Burnside’s charges at Fredericksburg. It will result in costly failure. Burnside sent wave after wave of Union regiments up Marye’s Heights and hundreds and hundreds never saw the next dawn.
    The only way to improve traffic congestion is to build more capacity, while not creating more traffic demand. We are committed to building rail to Dulles, but it is not going to make the commutes of those DTR drivers who are paying for much of rail any better. In fact, Fairfax County DOT estimates a need to widen the DTR by two to five lanes. If we were playing Sim City with a cheat that enables virtually unlimited cash, this would be a good deal. But wer are playing with real dollars. And then about the time the extra lanes are built (even assuming they can be), they reach failure every evening. Is this a good use of tax dollars? Probably not.
    This mess occurred not because of the Clown Show, but rather because the Fairfax County BoS allowed the Tysons Land Use Task Force to come up with a density grab plan that did not include any transportation planning whatsoever. The Planning Commission and the county, under great pressure from citizens, salvaged the mess and created a reasonable plan. But in the end, after spending billions on transportation, traffic will likely be substantially worse than it is today. So why should we give these same government entities a lot more money? They aren’t going to fix things without major reforms.

  20. “…. This mess occurred not because of the Clown Show, but rather because….”

    this is fairly typical across Virginia and it’s cause in rooted in the fact that Va DOES delegate land-use decisions to the localities but it explicitly holds VDOT responsible for ALL road-based infrastructure.

    Over and over across the geography of Virginia – localities draw up Comp Plans and approve development with little thought to the traffic consequences of what they are approving.

    Even WHEN they actually do the Traffic Impact Studies… they quite often basically show the need to expand a road but they have no capital funding for it nor any plans to build a fund.

    Instead… what they do is ..approve the development..then blame VDOT for not fixing the problem.

    there is no way to fix this short of making the localities take responsibility for both sides of the equation – the land-use decision coupled with responsibility for the transportation consequences – and be held accountable for voters for that responsibility.

    If you look at Groveton’s basic complaint.. it’s exactly that.

    He wants Fairfax to be able to make land-use decisions but he holds the “clown show” responsible for the consequences.

    Down my way – we are repeating the Fairfax experience.

    We have decided that the way to avoid the need for transportation infrastructure is to …. you guessed it.. build “smart growth”.

    so now that’s the excuse de jure for approving development and ignoring what is happening to the roads that are affected.

    we’ll just build “smart growth” where everyone will live, work and play within the confines of the development …

    TMT has it right.

    density does not negate the need for infrastructure.. it actually makes it critical.

  21. Approving development locally and blaming VDOT for the traffic. I was talking to a couple of Fairfax County planning commissioners a few days ago. We discussed how the County can deal with the huge number of necessary transportation improvements needed for Tysons. One of the commissioners noted that the former Comp Plan had required a number of road projects to be completed for growth to occur from the mid-90s forward. The vast majority of those projects were ignored while the growth was approved and then built. I don’t see this failure (negligence, gross negligence?) as the fault of VDOT , Virginia’s governors or the General Assembly. It is the fault of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

  22. it’s pretty much standard operating procedure around Va except in Arlington, Henrico and towns/cities .

    it’s the unfortunate legacy of the Byrd Machine takeover of the States roads.

    Virginia is one of but 4 states that has the state DOT in charge of all roads.

    46 other states make the counties responsible for local roads….and MPOs responsible for regional roads.

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