The Tofflers on Transportation

As a follow-up to my previous post, “Virginia, the De-Synchronization of Change and Fundamental Change,” I thought it useful to recapitulate what Alvin and Heidi Toffler have to say about the American transportation system. A vast infrastructure of four million miles of public highways, roads and streets, 23 million commercial trucks and hundreds of millions of automobiles, they write, “was a response to the mass society that grew up with mass production, urbanization and work patterns that required masses of workers to commute back and forth over the same pathways on uniform schedules.”

In 2000, the Tofflers note, some 119 million Americans wasted 24 billion hours getting to and from their jobs. But as mass production gives way to “increasingly customized, de-massified and decentralized knowledge production, large numbers of people no longer work in city cores. Work patterns shift from fixed schedules to anytime, anyplace, including home … altering the way time and space are used.”

The Tofflers look to “intelligent transportation” as a Knowledge-wave solution. The U.S. Department of Transportation concludes that intelligent “freeway management systems” could reduce accidents by 17 percent while permitting highways to handle 22 percent more traffic at greater speeds. Likewise, computerizing traffic signals could decrease travel times by 14 percent and delays by 37 percent.

Here’s where their analysis gets juicy:

But pressure from pour-more-concrete lobbies greatly outmatch the political influence of the nascent information-technology sector. When President Clinton in 1998 signed an act allocating $203 billion for repairing and “building roads, bridges, transit systems and railways,” the amount set aside for intelligent systems was approximately one tenth of 1 percent — this from an administration that touted its support for the “information superhighway.”

The U.S. transportation system, on which most business enterprises directly or indirectly depend, is still gridlocked by a political powerful triad of oil companies, car manufacturers and often corrupted highway-construction firms. … The key elements of America’s infrastructure – and their component subsystems — are de-synchronized and fought over by vested industrial-era interests and breakthrough innovators advancing the knowledge-based wealth system. Wave conflict again.

Virginia, one would think, possesses a IT industry with sufficient mass and political clout to nudge the Commonwealth’s transportation system in the knowledge-intensive direction espoused by the Tofflers. Sadly, Virginia’s tech lobby has functioned as a cheer-leader for the solutions advocated by the “pour-more-concrete lobby,” committing a miniscule amount of its political clout to pushing IT-oriented solutions. “Breakthrough innovators” do exist in Virginia, but they are small, politically powerless and largely unrepresented by the tech lobbies.

Of course, as the Tofflers fail to recognize, even liberal application of cool IT technology cannot, by itself, solve Virginia’s transportation problems. There simply is no way around the need for fundamental change to human settlement patterns, governance structures and transportation funding mechanisms.

Still, the Tofflers do intuit that the changing relationship between work and the workplace re-shapes the demand for transportation capacity — a subject that I am writing about for other publications and will address here on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog when I can. They also describe accurately how vested interests — not only auto companies, oil companies and highway construction firms but real estate developers and land speculators — have mobilized to thwart reform. While “Revolutionary Wealth” hardly offers the definitive treatise on U.S. transportation solutions, the Tofflers provide a useful context for understanding the problem.

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69 responses to “The Tofflers on Transportation”

  1. Anonymous Avatar


    I want to commend you for your thoughtful piece about the Toffler’s book
    “Revolutionary Wealth” which I am reading.

    I think their views are worthwhile and what we need in Virginia is a means
    to rethink our future and how can we create a better state. Utah has a
    statewide group of business, civic, cultural, education and enviornmental
    leaders that has done just for their wonderful piece of the West. We could
    do that in Virginia.

    Portland, Oregon is a hot city for individuals wanting a quality life, an
    environmentally aware community and employment opportunities that contribute
    to a better future for their city, state and our country.

    What makes Portland work includes:

    -urban growth boundaries that encourages new growth to take place within the
    bounds of existing roads, utilities, services, etc. thus forcing market demand
    be used to rebuild that city and the suburbs;

    -their system has allowed the community to build a streetcar system and a light
    rail system that has encouraged residents to give us their dependent need for a
    car, thus walking and using public transit, much as the case in Arlington County’s
    use of METRO;

    -and Portland is ranked as one of the most livable cities in the United States
    and often hosts visitors from elsewhere here and abroad to study their success.

    Virginia had a state planning department in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was merged
    into the budget department about 25 years ago. We need a state planning department
    and more power vested in regional planning district commissions (formed in 1968)
    that should be aligned to address our growth patterns. Then we would have the tools
    to create what Portland has in Virginia.

    The state has allowed growth to run hard and fast for the last 20 years, while failing
    to fund our transportation needs, thus creating the problems we have. Better planning
    and additional funds are needed to dig ourselves out of the hole we are struggling to
    fill. Our problems range from:

    -a need to rebuild much of our interstate system,
    -a major increase in new jobs demanding new workers needing transportation and homes
    (a projected 2 million more people in the new twenty years raises our population to
    10 million),
    -major new economic development projects such as the Portsmouth container facility
    being built by a Danish company that will hand 1 million containers annually;
    -maintenance problems such as bad condition of the pavement on I-64 from Richmond
    to Williamsburg;
    -strained METRO and VRE capacity;
    -a need for more rail capacity, new light rail systems such as what is going to be
    built in Norfolk and streetcar systems, such as what is being planned along Columbia
    Pike in Arlington and Fairfax counties;
    -inadequate suburban street systems;
    -rural roads needing upgrading and better maintenance;
    -and the list goes on and on.

    VDOT needs reform and new missions to make these goals work. But the problem they
    have is that planning decisions in local governments and budget decisions in the
    General Assembly have as much to do with our problems, as management issues in VDOT.

    Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts.

    Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


    Rodger Provo

    a commercial real estate broker and developer based in Fredericksburg,
    a member of the Urban Land Insitute and Virginia Sustainable Newwork,
    a member of former GOP Gov. A. Linwood Holton’s staff

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m supportive of what Roger Provo says but I’d point out that Tayloe Murphy tried in the early 90’s with his Growth Commission to do exactly what Roger advocates and it went down in flames.

    Here’s a url link to some backround info about it:

    So I’d be curious for the folks that remember (perhaps Roger) – what they think is the reason why it failed before and what, if anything, should be done differently to get it to work now.

    I also believe that the more parties you have involved and the more fuzzy allocation of responsibilities are with respect to land-use decisions and transportation planning – the more you invite talk, PR and buzz words and less – effective change.

    In my mind – there is absolutely no excuse to any local official who votes in favor of development and ignores the transportation impacts or worse .. believes that it is NOT … THEIR responsibility. This is how we got to where we are today in my opinion.

    Who exactly, does a local official is paying for new subdivision roads? Do they think someone other than taxpayers are?

    Second, when VDOT makes decisions NOT based on traffic counts, accident rates, LOS, and other performance metrics but instead subjective (arguable) criteria – we waste precious and limited dollars on things other than improved transportation network utility.

    We will NEVER have enough money for the schools, libraries, parks and transportation that we want. This is why it is called budget PRIORITIES.

    Spotsylvania County has a good start.

    Voters approved a bond referenda. The Supervisors initially foundered a bit on figuring out how to approach the issue since their initial perception was that VDOT’s 6yr plan was a good start – until they realized that the projects had been low-balled AND not adjusted for inflation so they had to start over and they hired a firm to look at the exact things they should be.. accidents rates, LOS, traffic counts, etc. It IS tough. Tough choices must be made because there simply is not enough money to build them all much less build them all right away.

    I’m ALL for better planning at each level but we continue to treat planning as a separate discipline from finances and I’m sorry, but that is a recipe for disaster.

    I’ve watched too many planning presentations where instead of looking at traffic impacts – CULULATIVELY for a group of development proposals – they look at them stand-alone – like they do not impact either other.

    And sorry folks, VDOT does the same thing some times.

    So .. we can have our new Planning Group but until it reports back with recommendations that INCLUDE accountability and discret allocation of responsibilities – I’m not in favor of major state-wide tax increases – because – once that money is approved.. the “growth planning” business probably becomes… an exercise without consequence.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I want to apologize for my poor typing
    job relative to my earlier posting.

    I think the Murphy Commission died for
    at that time the real estate industry
    enter into a cycle that rivaled what
    happened in the Great Depression and our
    growth problems had not reached the levels
    they are today.

    I met prior to the 2004 budget fight with
    John Chichester and Bill Howell and a mutual
    business friend. We discussed many of the
    problems that are being discussed now and
    how we can’t just throw billions of dollars
    at these problems without the reforms I have
    suggested to better manage our growth, create
    alternative transportation means, less car
    oriented development and major land use reform.

    I also suggested then the subdivision road
    system growth in the state is such that was
    going to wreck the state’s transportation
    budget. I told both of them we are facing are
    fiscal crisis because of this problem which has
    proven to be the case.

    I wrote opinion pieces for Virginia Business
    Magazine (2003, 2004 and 2005) I would invite
    you and your readers to review …. simply type
    my name in your search box and the links will


    Rodger Provo

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    In the FWIW category (for what it is worth) – Provo is, in my opinion, one of the “good” guys when it comes to the tough issues we face on growth and development.

    If we could clone Provo and put them on the CTB … or other planning agencies Va would benefit.

    If you combine a Provo with a Schucet – watch OUT! 🙂

    No.. I don’t think he has all the solutions but I think he is very focused on defining the problem and working towards solutions.

    And I’d like to put forth an observation.

    There is a transportation concept known as TAZ – Transportation Analysis Zone and what it does it look at the Traffic that will be generated from each of these zones – at Build Out.

    If you do this for an entire county or region then you’ll know how much new traffic will appear… as you reach build-out.

    This discipline is very similiar to looking ahead to how many schools a county will need – as it approaches build out – using the projected population growth.

    This is basically the analysis that VDOT did for Loudoun County – except expanded county-wide beyond the 30K houses they were looking at.

    The point is – once you know the size and scope of the projected traffic (based on your land-use designations – countywide) – you know also the size and scope of the roads you’ll need AND you have some idea of the cost (the county’s ultimate liability).

    My view of this is that this is a useful exercise to go through because then the county can re-think their anticipated land-use designations and work their way back to a capital facilities Plan for the infrastructure that they know they will need.

    If you look at the Comp Plans of most jurisdictions today in Virginia – what you’ll see is “Planned Roads” – conception lines on a map with no projected cost, no projected build date and most important, no fund balance nor anything in their budgets to add to that fund balance so that when it comes time to build the next road – they have the money.

    If you ask the jurisdictions why their Comp Plans only have lines on a map – they will tell you that it is out of their hands and they are dependent on VDOT to tell them when and how much.

    Think about this absolute disconnect between land use decision-making – and the transportation consequences of same.

    Even if we went to statewide planning, urban boundaries, regional planning – as long as we do land-use and roads in the way we do them now – no flavor of planning will overcome this.

    It’s almost as if the word “planning” is an oxymoron.

    Good Holidays… folks

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I spent a great deal of time in Portland, Oregon from 1999
    to 2005 when our first born was working at Portland State
    University’s metropolitan studies group and received his
    PhD in urban studies. I know Portland. I know what they
    have works. I know that we have awful quality of life in
    our state by not having better planning to create a vision
    for our future. All us should be angry at everyone in our
    state and local government involved in our planning and
    transportation issues. They have failed this wonderful
    state. I do not think there is a good guy in this fight
    for all sides have dug in to position with little movement
    nor a desire to look at the big picture. Cheers!!!!!!!!!

    Rodger Provo

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    I served on a regional PDC at one time; the structure of it is such that it is comprised of appointed representatives from localities. The planning work is excellent, at least on the PDC where I served. However, there didn’t seem to be a structure above the PDC to coordinate its efforts. Also, there was little or no power vested in the PDC other than it’s role as an “concept approval” agency. What it did do well was to provide a forum for neighboring localities to discuss issues and provide for informal collaboration.

    The suggestion that we re-consider their utilization makes a great deal of sense as the PDCs are already formed; there is a ready-made infrastructure.

    Re the state planning department, I would enjoy hearing the history of its original formation and demise.

    If the definition of insanity is such that doing the same thing over again with the same result, understanding state planning history in terms of government agency is an important factor in this discussion.

    Mr. Provo’s commentary is deeply appreciated.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I have – or rather, had – quite a few friends in Portland – and, while they loved it, they also complained about high unemployment (circa 10% post dot com boom – currently 5.4%, versus US average of 4.6%, versus Virginia 2.7%), extremely unaffordable housing (a serious problem for families and for the working poor), and development rules that my friends say don’t work the way that they’re marketed. That last is pretty much a quote, BTW.

    I am not a developer, nor am I in real estate, and neither were my friends. Most were either in high tech or human services.

    Most of my friends who lived in Portland, moved.

    Your kid was in grad school. That’s a bit different from actually working and making a living in a community.

    I’m all for better planning and for better growth management, but I for one do NOT want to see us wind up like Portland. Higher unemployment and higher housing prices do not seem like good goals, even if less traffic is a side effect.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    Virginia’s and Oregon’s economy are quite different,
    the latter state is much poorer, thus the spread
    in the unemployment rates. Much of Oregon’s
    economy is dependent on resources, such as timber,

    Portland has had swings in their economy’s high tech
    sector just like Northern Virginia.

    Many residents there have one car or no car for they
    rent a car when they need it.

    The Portland metropolitan area is the strong player in
    that state’e economy.

    The community is a model for good planning nationally
    and internationally.

    Our planning district commissions were weakened because
    of the ugly Richmond school busing fight and state planning
    department was merged with the state budget office because
    of environmental proposal disputes in the 1970’s.

    It is my view enegy costs are going to continue to rise.
    Virginia’s development patterns are much like those found
    in Southern California. Oil selling for $100 a barrel
    will create a hardship on Virginia. We need to factor
    this reality into thinking about our future.

    Rodger Provo

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    At least in Fairfax County, there’s a serious problem simply with the basic execution of what’s already on the books. The Wapo story about Fairfax County not tracking TDMs or other proffers or zoning commitments is not news to many of us who live there. A number of us have been aware of, and have complained about, the complete lack of any tracking system for both proffers and zoning conditions for some time. The issue has been raised in resolutions and testimony from civic associations, as well as from individual residents.

    The Planning Commission periodically must address situations where the staff is unaware of these requirements and issued permits to individuals to build in violation of either zoning conditions or proffers. The county budget regularly contains appropriations to pay for developer defaults on proffers.

    These are management failures that could and should easily be addressed.

  10. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    With “[W]hen VDOT makes decisions NOT based on traffic counts, accident rates, LOS, and other performance metrics but instead subjective (arguable) criteria – we waste precious and limited dollars on things other than improved transportation network utility” Larry Gross (3;23 P.M.) hits the heart of our problem.

    VDOT instead makes decisions based on The Virginia Code § 58.1-638. Using the Virginia Code is not “subjective (arguable) criteria.” It is mismanagement at the Legislative level. The current code distributes transportation dollars based on mode first, seventy eight for highways, fifteen percent for mass transit, etc. The highway dollars are assigned by district mainly by vehicle miles traveled. Congestion takes two hits. Lane capacity goes down reducing vehicle miles traveled and cost of new lanes is higher in congested areas.

    DOT reform should start with the Virginia Code. The only justification for the current formula is it allows some legislators to claim that they are bringing home the bacon. It creates an atmosphere of mistrust in state government and lots of comments on this blog.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Virginia’s growth management and transportation problems will
    only be solved by the General Assembly working with a governor
    to accomplish these goals.

    Rodger Provo

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Rodger – One of our biggest problems is that we don’t seem to have an honest Governor. Kaine ran on Platform A, but has operated under Platform B. That’s simply wrong! If Tim Kaine wanted to raise taxes for transportation, he should have so campaigned, rather than tout his “promises” to fix the transportation trust fund and restrict development where transporation facilities were inadequate. Virginia government suffers from a huge lack of trust. It’s all about manipulation, smoke and mirrors. We’ll never achieve anything without trust.

    Groups with very different goals can often achieve consensus, but there must be trust first. Problem resolution would also be advanced if the MSM would simply report all sides of various issues.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    There is a trust problem in our
    state that makes it hard for us
    to resolve these problems, thus
    we have the gridlock on our
    roads and in the statehouse.

    This will never change until the
    public demands it.

    Virginia should consider how Utah
    dealt with this problem via a broad-
    based citizen group called “Envision
    Utah” (

    Other states and metropolitan areas
    are pursuing similar programs.

    The May, 2005 issue, Virginia Business
    Magazine has an opinion piece by me
    about this project.

    You can find that article by typing my
    name in your search box.

    Enjoy your holidays.

    Rodger Provo

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Re Synchronizing traffic lights. I’ll recycle Congressman Frank Wolf’s November 2005 letter to Pierce Homer addressing VDOT’s failure to synchronize traffic lights on Route 7. As far as I know, there’s still been no substantial progress & it’s almost 2007. Does anyone have any better information than I do?

    November 1, 2005

    The Honorable Pierce Homer
    Secretary of Transportation
    Commonwealth of Virginia
    PO Box 1475
    Richmond VA 23218

    Dear Secretary Homer:

    The progress report I recently received on the effort to synchronize in real time the traffic lights on Route 7 from Leesburg to Tysons Corner is greatly disappointing. I was exasperated to learn that the state-of-the-art system for which I secured federal funding is yet to be completely operational in the corridor.

    As you know, the FY 2004 and FY 2005 transportation spending bills included a total of $1 million to purchase high-tech video detectors that would be mounted on signal poles at intersections along Route 7. I was told by Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff that these detectors are capable of immediately transmitting data back to the VDOT operations center in Arlington where waiting times at traffic lights across northern Virginia are constantly monitored, providing traffic engineers with a more accurate picture of how traffic is flowing in the corridor. Obviously, this enhanced information would be particularly useful during rush hours or when there is an accident. I also was told that since the new monitors would be on the signal poles, not in the roadway like the existing system, they would be less vulnerable to damage. Snowplows and utility crews, I understand, are constant threats.

    The FY 2005 bill included an additional $1 million to install the same technology along Route 50 from South Riding to I-66 and $500,000 for the Route 28 corridor from Route 7 to Manassas. The funding for the signalization projects was included in both bills at my request to help improve traffic flow – so there is less stop-and-go – along these busy commuter routes. Northern Virginians – moms and dads – are tired of sitting in endless traffic jams and this new technology is a critical part of easing congestion in the region.

    When the FY 2004 funding for the first phase of the Route 7 project was released in July 2004, VDOT said the video detectors would be in place by January 2005. My staff consistently checked with VDOT on the status of the project and was repeatedly assured it was progressing, dismissing the commuter complaints my office was receiving saying that traffic flow was not discernibly better. One evening, after I noticed that the signals did not seem to be synchronized as I drove the route, my office contacted VDOT and was told the new system is turned off after 10 p.m.

    On August 30, my office sent you a letter (below) specifically asking for an update on the Route 7 project. Several weeks later my staff received a phone call from a representative in your office stating that the project had been delayed and additional funding was needed to conduct a “corridor study.” That triggered my October 17 phone call to you expressing my extreme disappointment.

    Your subsequent communications suggest that 76 monitors have been installed at 22 intersections along Route 7 but you are experiencing technical difficulties with some of the monitors. I do not understand why it took a phone call from me to you to get to bottom of this issue. I am deeply troubled by the apparent lack of progress on this project and the poor – and possibly erroneous – communication between VDOT staff and my office. This project was funded entirely with federal dollars. VDOT had a responsibility to keep me accurately informed of its progress.

    I have worked in good faith with VDOT to improve traffic flow on Route 7. VDOT, it appears, is almost a year behind in fully implementing this new system to improve traffic flow in this important commuter corridor. In light of what I have recently learned, there are several questions I would like answered:

    When do you expect to have signalization, in real-time, along Route 7 between Leesburg and Tysons Corner entirely operational?

    Why did the Commonwealth fail to communicate any problems with the Route 7 project to me?

    What is the need for another “corridor study” that your assistant mentioned? Was your assistant just wrong and/or just not apprised of the facts?

    What problems, if any, are you encountering with the technology?

    What is VDOT doing to rectify any technological problems?

    What is the time frame for completion of the signalization along Route 50?

    What is the time frame for signalization along Route 28?

    I look forward to your reply.

    Best wishes.
    Frank R. Wolf
    Member of Congress

    One might think that VDOT would rather build more roads than make what we have today work better!

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I have seen similiar type things in the “progress” reports from VDOT to the Spotsylvania BOS.

    For instance, the reason for delay on a much needed upgrade to an intersection was said to be from a “shortage of orange barrels”.

    VDOT … DOES like to build roads MORE than make them function more efficiently.

    Part of this is their Engineering heritage and part of it simply is that they simply don’t consider timing lights to be in their main mission statement.

    It’s treated as a “if we have time” and funding.. we’ll do it .. as long as something else does not get in the way

  16. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley


    Thank you for your kind words. The article is right on target.

    The citizens of Virginia elected a Governor who ran on linking transportation and growth. One way of looking at the situation is as a three part problem. Taxes, pork and services. The Governor was elected on an “improved services” platform but has been governing on a “pork” platform of increased taxes without reform.
    The General Assembly position is no new pork. The services and no taxes groups are aligned. If the Governor left the pork position, would there be enough services votes to end the governance gridlock?

    Jim W

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I agree that the Governor used the growth
    and transportation issues to get elected for
    congested suburban cities and counties that
    normally vote Republican supported him.

    Then he took a different approach after
    finding the GA and special interests were
    not going to move on certain issues.

    The big mistake was for him to tackle these
    issues in his first GA session. He needed
    to take the first two years of his term to
    organize an effort similar to what has been
    done in Utah. Then presented a package to
    the GA during the mid-term session for his
    team in 2008.

    I think the track we are on is strictly a
    political game to try to elect more Dems or
    Reps, depending on which team one supports.

    Mark Cole, R-Delegate, Spotsylvania, has
    hurled another bomb in this fight by making
    public his bill to have Virginia do away with
    the Senate and to adopt a one house legislature
    as Nebraska has had since the late 1930’s.

    That bill will never get out of the Senate, will
    make the Senate mad and our ability to get things
    done is hurt further.

    None of that will get us to the point of creating
    a game plan that will solve our problems.

    I think that may not take place until the next
    election for the entire GA in 2007 and even the
    next election for Governor in 2009.

    We are in an awful position given the growth we
    have had, the unmet needs today, the growth we are
    going to continue to have and we are not in a
    position to deal with it. I think the future for
    us is really grim.

    Thank you Jim and Larry for your kind words and


    Rodger Provo

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    I’ve been looking for history and/or background on the state planning agency and have not had any luck; if anyone could suggest resources that would be helpful.

    Concur that no solutions are to be found until the election process cleans up the posturing we now see that is focused only on the party politics.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: Sources of Information, Va State Planning Department

    Virginia State Library in Richmond would have information about the state
    planning agency. Bob Dennis who ran PEC would have some historical
    information. VCU professors involved in the urban studies programs
    might have some information. I would check with the Secretary of the
    Commonwealth’s office which maintains information about agency head

    Rodger Provo

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: Va State Planning Department
    Information Sources

    Check out these resources:

    1. Virginia State Library in Richmond.

    2. Bob Dennis, former head of the PEC
    in Warrenton, call it for contact

    3. Virginia Commonwealth University,
    Richmond urban studies professors.

    4. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Richmond
    (office maintains information about agency
    head appointments).

    5. Ed Temple, now deceased, headed the Va PD
    during Mills Godwin’s first term as governor,
    1966-1970. He was Danville’s city manager,
    prior to taking the job in Richmond.

    6. The regional planning districts were created in
    1968, boundaries established then. A major
    change in that system was the merger of two
    districts in Hampton Roads to create a single
    district for that metropolitan area of 1.6
    million serving an area from Virginia Beach
    to Smithfield to Williamsburg, etc.

    I hope this information is helpful.

    Rodger Provo

  21. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Here’s a URL:

    there’s quite a bit other info if you GOOGLE the following phrases:

    virginia “growth commission” murphy

    virginia “commission on population growth”

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Interesting artilce in WaPa this morning.

    “Federal Agencies Relocating”

    The article talks about re-locating outside the “blast” zone but also mentions the “side benefit” of more affordable housing.

    We’ve had the discussion in this Blob about the need for “more places”.

    Interestingly enough, the Smarter Growth folks don’t care for this and want a discussion and debate about the benefits and impacts of relocating govt agencies outside of the Wash Metro Area.

    It’s not the relocation per se. If they had relocated to Ohio.. it would have been okay but what they’ve done is relocate in relatively close enough proximity so that employees can still travel to the DC offices.

    The concern obviously is that this will require more roads… and result in more commuting.

    I’m not sure how I view this but we don’t require private companies to have public debates about their relocations and if one thinks about this…

    what IF we DID have a State Level Planning Commission. Would this be an issue and/or decision over which they would preside?

    Would they essentially have the power to tell the Feds (or any entity) that “No – you cannot relocate in Winchester because we lack the infrastructure”.

    JB might already be generating a new thread for this but I think the proposal itself is integral to the current debate about land-use and transportation.

    I have, as usual, some thoughts.. that I’ll hold off on sharing and give others a chance to weigh in.

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I, too , read the Washington Post story
    about the movement of federal agencies
    to the I-81 corridor.

    Virginia needs federal legislation
    that provides funds to solve the
    transportation problems agencies and
    military installations create when
    they are located into communities
    that do not have the means to support
    such facilities.

    We have a similar problem in southern
    Fairfax and Prince William counties with
    the movement of military facilities into
    areas without adequate transportation

    A state planning agency would work with
    the federal government, local governments
    and state transportation officials to
    create the plans to meet our needs. It
    should also address the land use issues
    such facilities will impact. That impact
    would often cross local government

    We need to think about creative solutions
    for our problems. The political climate
    nor the players involved in these matters
    do not have the ability to get us moving
    in the right direction.


    Rodger Provo

  24. Anonymous Avatar

    Rodger, you make good points about the need for federal, state and local governments to coordinate land-use (including BRAC) and transportation decisions. I would, however, have more sympathy with the Commonwealth’s and local governments’ pleas and protests if they, in turn, acted responsibly on the matters within their existing powers and responsibilities.

    For example, I doubt that VDOT has made any progress whatsoever following up with Congressman Wolf’s requests for information on VDOT’s efforts towards timing signal lights on Route 7. Is Pierce Homer’s goal to improve traffic flow or to obtain a bigger construction budget?

    Likewise, Fairfax County cannot even track and enforce proffers and zoning conditions, including traffic management plans. Yet, Gerry Connolly will run his mouth, blasting the federal government for moving federal agencies because of traffic impacts. We all be better off if Mr. Connolly would spend a little time fixing Fairfax County’s mismanagement.

    Then, of course, there is the multi-billion dollar Silver Line boondoggle that fails to provide any measurable traffic relief. But both the Governor and Mr. Connolly cannot support this enough.

    What a charade!

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. Bacon

    From this perspecive, one of your very best posts.

    Mr. Provo
    Mr. Gross
    Mr. Wamsley

    Sustain useful observations.

    Anon Zeus

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I want to share some history about the problems
    in Fairfax County.

    More than 30 years ago, when that county was a
    rural community, activisits there gutted the
    county’s transportation plan. Their view was
    if we kill the road projects it would discourage
    growth. Likewise, the county would not allow
    VDOT to upgrade two lane roads to four lane
    roads, instead allowing them to put in additional
    turn lanes at certain intersections, etc. The
    county opted to have METRO routed out I-66 in the
    the middle of it, instead of pursuing the really
    smart growth plan used in Arlington County to
    route the METRO lines along older commercial
    corridors to facilitate the redevelopment of such
    areas at Rosslyn, the Wilson Boulevard area and
    Pentagon City.

    Fairfax County is now home to more than 1 million
    people and it has some of the worst traffic issues
    in the United states. Arlington County is less than
    half that size, but it is known nationally for good
    planning and transportation management that has allowed
    massive growth to be handled in developments near the
    METRO system. The contrast in the history of these
    two communities is a great case study for Virginia
    relative to how we should resolve our problems.


    Rodger Provo

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Roger – I’ve heard this tale about Fairfax .. but unless someone can show that Fairfax has LESS lane miles of roads than other jurisdictions – I tend to discount it.

    To me.. I see SO MANY roads in Fairfax that I doubt seriously that they are deficient as compared with other localities on a population or even a per capita basis.

    I WOULD be curious to see how many lane miles per capita that Arlington or even Portland have for that matter.

    For myself, I don’t think more roads result in LESS travel but rather the opposite. The more roads, the more folks will travel.

    There’s a metric called VMT – Vehicle Miles Travelled (per capita). That number is now TRIPLE what it was 20 years ago in NoVa. It DID level off last year…

    So that would be another good metric to look at ..say comparing Fairfax, Arlington and Portland…

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    It is no tale. I know for a fact these things
    happend in Fairfax County. A group that got
    control of the board there in the 1970’s tried
    to use denying access to water and sewer service
    as a means of controlling grow. That case went
    to the Virginia Supreme Court that in a landmark
    case ruled communities have the same responsibility
    as Dominion Power, Columbia Gas and Verizon to
    provide those services. Til Hazel played a major
    role in this fight that include civic activisits
    such as Audrey Moore, who has served on the FCBS.

    The point in sharing this information with readers
    of this blog is, like it or not, given our loaction
    on the East Coast, the federal government’s presence
    in the District, Maryland Virginia, the major port
    facilities in Hampton Roads, international air service
    at Dulles, our major colleges and unversities and the
    list goes on and on we are going to continue to grow.

    Virginia needs to follow the management approach by
    Arlington County to deal with these matters and stop
    thinking this growth is going away …. it is not.


    Rodger Provo

  29. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    Rodger Provo 7:50 PM

    I will agree that after the first GA session the governor found himself in a deeper hole and that an effort similar to “Envision Utah” may be required to get Virginia out of the hole.

    Whether “The big mistake was for him to tackle these issues in his first GA session” or to advance increasing taxes instead of advancing a solution based on the JLARC report can be debated. The situation is deteriorating.

    Equity and Efficiency of Highway Construction and Transit Funding, Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission of the Virginia General Assembly, December 20, 2001.$file/rpt272.pdf

  30. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I don’t doubt that folks can be opposed to growth – and can have some success in short-term slow downs but over the longer run – growth is inevitable and will happen – perhaps in ways that are not beneficial.

    The same thing with roads. People can oppose roads and they actually might stop one or two but over the longer run – as long as dollars are available to the locality – infrastructure will be built – but I think if one looks at WHY road infrastructure is not built – it’s not because of opposition – it’s because of a lack of money OR spending it on projects that do not address congestion.

    Why drives people and opposition is adverse impacts to their quality of life – specifically to the levels of service for roads, schools, etc.

    The JLARC study that Jim alludes to “Equity and Efficiency” is not only an apt name but it describes the problems that we have with provisioning transportation infrastructure in Virginia – and UNTIL we address THAT problem – more money and more growth study commissions are not going to deal with the reason why we spend 3 billion dollars a year on roads – and make almost no headway … our system – as currently configured – is simply not FISCALLY sustainable.

    Aside from the Smart Growth, quality of life and envrionemntal issues – we simply do not charge on a per user basis what it actually costs to build, operate and maintain our roads.

    Again, in my view, only when folks have to pay for roads like they do electricity, water/sewer, etc… will we have a an economic system where folks make concious decisions about what to spend their money on.

    If we supplied electricity like we do roads – Dominion Power would be broke, we’d be having brownouts/blackouts and the entire grid would be fragile and unreliable.

    If folks want/need to drive “til they qualify” for “affordable housing” – they should have that choice but they need to bear the financial conseqences also and when they don’t – and all taxpayers pick up the costs – there are no financial disincentives to driving long distances to work – and the result is clear in front of us – maxed out roads at congestion hour – because everyone believes that roads are “free”.

    The gas tax doesn’t cost the guy who drives solo at rush hour any more than it costs the fellow driving at 2 a.m – and that’s the fundamental problem with most of our roads. There are PLENTY of roads and PLENTY of capacity – EXCEPT at rush hour.

    Worse – if we wanted to pretend that more roads would solve the problem – we’d have to expand EVERY road to deal with maximum congestion.

    I predict that if and when we ever get on to congestion pricing – there will be a dramatic change to not only rush hour conditions -but, in fact, the numbers of folks who “drive to qualify” because THEN they WILL have a choice in terms of how to spend their money.

    So.. I don’t think we need a Growth Commission to figure out this fundamental concept and, in fact, I tend to be suspicious that such a Commission will become a diversion .. while those in favor of higher taxes .. will prevail.. and the commission again becomes a backwater effort doomed to atrophy like the previous ones did.

  31. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I think other states and communities have sought
    a means to create a concensus about what do with
    growth and transportation issues. Virginia has
    never done that. We are divided between the folks
    who only want more funds thrown at the problem, those
    who want nothing done, those who blame VDOT, those
    who blame the Governor, those who blame the GA, those
    who blame local governments, those who blame the
    federal government and the list goes on and on …
    when in fact we are the problem, the blame game
    needs to come to an end …. we need a concept of
    what Virginia should be in the 21st century, how
    do we meet our transportation needs, how do we
    improve our quality of life and how do we continue
    our economic prosperity …. hanging out there in
    the future is very hard reality that energy costs
    may throw out all of old rules and force us to find
    a new means of addressing that problem …. the GOP
    California Governor is a smart guy, working to solve
    these problems, without regard to political parties
    and he has built a concensus in that state …. we
    have a leadership void in our state … it will take
    leadership on the 3rd floor in Richmond and in the GA
    to bring us together to solve these problems …. I
    think what we are getting from them is more politics,
    than leadership …. which our children and their kids
    will suffer in the future for our failure to rise up
    to this challenge …. I have enjoyed sharing some
    ideas and thoughts with you over the last few days …
    with this note I will close out my comments and wish
    all of you a great 2007 !!!!!!


    Rodger Provo

  32. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    So much to comment upon.

    First off – Smart Traffic Centers (STCs) need to produce RESULTS that actually reduce traffic congestion. Where I live, Tidewater VA (called “Hampton Roads by the local business lobby seeking to control the region) – we are blessed with an amazing STC!

    Yet, even with a very creative. Bright, and well thought out ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) plan/strategy – after more than $1B in tax funds have been “invested” in our STC and Norfolk’s ATMS (Automated Traffic Management System)- the RESULT is … beyond disappointing! It’s an embarrassment. The Tidewater STC has done essentially nothing to reduce commuter traffic congestion in Tidewater. To gain support from taxpayers the local PDC and VDOT managed STC needs to actually produce noticeable results. In our region, one of the most significant causes of traffic congestion during periods of peak usages is the congestion created by traffic accidents. This is second to the congestion caused by road construction and maintenance. Clearly, with over 100 traffic cameras the most intelligent use of our STC would be to develop teams of State Police, pre=positioned wreckers, and accident documentation teams trained with first responders to REMOVE wrecks from the flow of traffic as soon as possible. This one concept would immediately produce demonstrable RESULTS of the ITS and ATMS infrastructure our region has blown so much of our Federal, State, and local transportation funds on.

    Far better coordinated planning of road work can also produce noticeable RESULTS to help keep traffic flowing. Better scheduling of transfer trucks to the hours of least highway usage would also improve traffic flow – without having to build more lane capacity. Opening the failed HOV lanes would also add improved throughput. Offer LARGE employers tax incentives to stagger the hours of operation to less peak usage times would also reduce traffic congestion – especially for the typical commuter.

    Let’s face it folks, for the most part the “Smart Growth” agenda has been hijacked by Liberal Socialists seeking to force growth back into failed urban centers? Why? Because Liberal Socialists tend to vote Democrat, not Republican – meanwhile the Developers love to push taxpayer subsidized Light Rail & fixed mass transit systems and rake massive profits from land speculation around government controlled TOD (Transit-Oriented Development). Banks jump on board to sell BILLIONS in 6.6% tax free bonds to fund these massive regional, local, and state projects – making their “cut” from the massive debt issued to pay for new “mass transit” and “new urbanism” “investments” within 30 years destined to become future slums. Take the money and run! The TOD profiteers are smiling all the way to the bank.

    Yes, Tim Kaine DID RUN on a platform that he would not raise taxes for transportation until the TTF is protected (he lied) – and he would demand land use reforms to tie new growth to APF law requiring adequate transportation infrastructure is included before new growth is permitted (he lied). AND – he said he was opposed to creating REGIONAL Transportation Authorities – when his opponent supported them (he lied again). So me, uber-Republican voted for Democrat Kaine because I cannot vote for anyone that supports all-appointed REGIONAL Transportation Authorities – they are simply a path to unaccountable government riff with corruption because they are under the control of special interests groups and the “Business community” – and their allies in the taxpayer subsidized “Higher Education community”. We do not NEED Regional Transportation Authorities. The HRPDC/MPO (Hampton Roads Planning District Commission/Metropolitan Planning Organization is the poster child of a all-appointed regional authority run amuck – and transformed into a taxpayer funded business LOBBY!

    Corruption is the cancer that has infected our state’s ability to rationally deal with the challenges and opportunities we face for improving our state and local transportation infrastructure.

    What we find ourselves in now is a quest not to find solutions to our transportation needs – but an excuse to raise taxes and increase government spending. The whole game played with the General Fund versus the TTF is a credulous sham! I recommend we abolish the TTF and place transportation needs into the general Fund to be considered alongside all other state spending and to be prioritized appropriately. Abolish the rural, urban, suburban “formula” for state transportation funding – and require that primary criteria for which road projects or mass transit projects are funded first is based on how much traffic congestion the project will yield, not how much future “growth” (development” can be facilitated by building new roads to benefit politically influential land speculators – and politically influential road builders and the banks that sell the bonds to build the massive taxpayer funded “economic development investments”.

    To truly reform our state’s transportation system we have to rid ourselves of the influence of the business community – and their partners in crime, the “higher education” lobby, banks, major politically influential law firms, and the politicians that accept the bribes that are euphemistically (nod – wink) called “campaign contributions”.

    We need honest and objective media that are interested in exposing the corruption of the transit lobby buying off the political process, not on board with the liberal socialist “urban TOD agenda” – and its close cousin, the so-called “Affordable Housing” lobby.

    Meanwhile, the “business community” – the $$$ behind the push for all-appointed regional government control – they are salivating over the prospect of regional transportation authorities – another way in which they can circumvent the will of the voters – and transfer billions in tax dollars into their pet “investment” and “economic development” projects = projects that they will profit most from.

  33. Anonymous Avatar

    Wow!!!!! The anti-tax, anti-society know it all
    from Tidewater takes a deal of space to say little
    that helps Virginia better manage our growth and
    transportation issues.

  34. nova_middle_man Avatar

    What was done in 1986 in terms of compromise working together etc…? I am too young to remember I was 5 🙂 It seems that the compromise and cooperation needed to create a comprehensive transportation bill in 1986 could be used as at least a starting point to find common ground and begin moving forward because as we all know every moment of delay causes real costs to increase.

    For starters I know Vivian Watts was around then and she was one of a handful of democrats that was supporting the Albo-Rust plan last term. Alas bipartisanship is a dirty word these days.

  35. Anonymous Avatar

    NoVA Middle Man — If the truth be known about 1986 and the sales tax increase, that was pretty much a gimic thought up by the real estate industry and their very smart lobbyist, Bill Thomas, to raise taxes to fund sufficient projects to promote additional development. It didn’t do squat to improve traffic congestion, but the added growth probably made traffic worse. It also certainly helped more than a few land investors make big bucks.

    Keep in mind that a famous Virginia developer once stood up in the midst of a crowded meeting in Richmond and informed the attendees that he built things and it was the citizens’ job to fund the supporting infrastructure. It worked in 1986, failed in 2002, but is back on the table again.

    Keep on doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll keep on getting what you’ve been getting. Virginia needs reform before it needs more transportation revenues or these same blog conversations will continue indefinitely.

  36. E M Risse Avatar

    We were deeply involved in citizen, business and developer groups in Fairfax between 1973 and 1987.

    Some of the points that have been made in this string are correct, some need clarification and some of the things cited did not happen.

    Fussing about who did what only muddies the water. Who struck john is not the issue. An understanding that the only path to a sustainable future involves Fundamental Change is the first step.

    Jim B kicked off this string with very good observations. One thing he did not mention is the Tofflers have never grasped the issue of settlement pattern.

    Tofflers talk about cars, trucks and asphalt. The path to mobility and access involves private legs and shared vehicles not private autonomobiles, trucks and roadways.

    There must be a balance between the travel demand generated by the settlement pattern and the transport systme created to provde the most effecient mobility and access.


  37. Anonymous Avatar

    After reading through all of the above, I offer the following:

    1. Maybe a historical review of state planning structures would be useful for legislatures; someone who can point out to the House and Senate (for the newbies, those elected in the last decade) what structures existed and how they worked or didn’t work.
    2. Same thing goes for Fairfax. It might be worthwhile to review thoroughly what happened in that county during the 70s. This is direct opposition to EMR’s “let’s not look at it” proposal. Why not study the history of that growth fight? The process and the outcomes might be interesting.
    3. Maybe the best thing that can happen is for the electoral process to work; e.g., maybe having nothing happen this year isn’t problematic.

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    Mt. Greenmum…

    Preach on, preach on.

    As Deep Throat once said: “Follow the money.”

    You hit many, many nails straight on the head. Themes that are echoed in many quasi-governmental entities.

  39. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    So…I agree.. it’s not important who shot John or why or when or any of that rot.

    And it’s so true that journey’s (even new ones) start with a first step.

    So the First Step of this journey begins in a few days with the convening of the GA.

    So .. they can form a study commission .. to report back every couple of years…

    .. just like they told JLARC to take a look at VDOT and report back with their recommendations.

    … so.. let’s cut to the chase…

    Do we want the GA .. to give VDOT 500+ million dollars more… while we further “discuss” the JLARC recommendations and await the new Growth Commission Recommendations.

    We don’t need any blame here but we Do need to decide if we ARE going to change course … or continue the status quo… with regard to transportation.

    I keep saying this… some folks think the VDOT reforms are “nice to have” but should not “stand in the way” of more funding… while others believe that to give VDOT another penny without meaningful reform is a non-starter.

    If the GA is going to move forward – both of these positions need to be understood … I believe.

    So … we can all go hide in the restroom pretending the GA is not going to convene.. or …. 🙂

  40. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Yes, the GA is going into session – but the Democrat Party Governor has openly declared his goal to do what he can to attack and unseat Republican members of the House, focusing on the Transportation Committee for starters. So, is his primary focus on developing solutions to reduce traffic congestion – or getting Democrats elected to replace Republicans?

    Let’s face it, the GA is going to spend their time focused on political party posturing, not really doing any serious work to craft meaningful solutions for our state’s transportation system. Remember, the new “crisis” is a lack of sustainable transportation funding, not actually reducing traffic congestion – or so we are being told.

    In the broader context of urban versus suburban development and the ongoing battle of government-controlled, taxpayer-subsidized mass transit versus privately owned motor vehicles being driven when and where citizens want – the social engineering crowd abhors the freedom of private vehicles they cannot control. Folks, our government should exist to promote freedom, not seek ways to take it away.

    The quest to use government to rebuild failed urban centers has the strongest of political under currents.

    What I observe is that many of the business lobby’s pet transit projects are centered on fixed rail solutions combined with feeder buses that cost far more to build, operate, and maintain then the ROI they bring in traffic congestion reduction – why? Because of the inadequate number of commuters they actually serve. One the one hand we realize that we cannot keep simply building more lane capacity and therefore the use of mass transit does make sense – – but it isn’t cost effective unless it is implemented for high-density areas. That leaves suburbia and rural areas out in the cold.

    Freedom of choice … there are a whole lot of people that do not desire to live in the crowded, crime ridden, urban jungles – no matter how hard the “New Urbanism” marketing and PR machine tries to them otherwise. Americans like having their own backyards and living in the homogenous neighborhoods of their choice. Have we forgotten that suburban living is the American Dream? Or do the new urbanists simply hope to pretend that is not the case?

    So, we are back to the “I know better than the masses” pro-urban utopian elites looking for ways to force citizens back into urban centers – and using the tax dollars of the suburban ring city dwellers to pay for it.

    To “fix” our overwhelmed transportation systems we need to fix the root cause of over congestion – over development and government authorized “growth” without requiring adequate permitting fees to cover the true costs to increase road capacity related to more drivers clogging up near capacity, or over capacity – roadways.

    If we do not seriously control “growth” – we cannot control the over crowding of our roadways. Raising taxes doesn’t “fix” anything. Without controlling “growth” we are doomed to endless tax hikes – until we can no longer pay them. And then what?

    Didn’t the Democrat Governor and the GA already TRY that in 1986? Gee, it didn’t work out so well, now did it?

  41. Anonymous Avatar

    There has been a solid trend around
    the country of people wanting to move
    back into our cities. This movement
    has been facilitated in many areas by
    the use of rail systems. Arlington
    County is a great success story in
    this movement, though not a central

    We need to examine our needs today
    and in the future, realizing that
    what took place in 1986 needs to be
    considered in a historical perspective.

    The conflict on this blog reflects
    the conflict in our state about how
    to deal with our problems: anger,
    people taking shots at each other,

    What we have on this blog is bunch
    of people who like to pop off at the
    mouth, but have little to offer to
    help us solve our problems.

    You guys need to get a life !!!!!!

  42. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry, why not look at the past, not to cast blame, but to figure out what happened. If we don’t have a framework, if we don’t have the context of historical process, we’re not going to have sufficient perspective to create change.

    But then that’s an old world perspective, somewhat like that of the Toefflers, perhaps, in that patterns should be examined rather than ignored. Understanding the patterns that have formed our transportation ssytem is fundamental to implementing change.

    But learning all about the defunct state planning system or about Fairfax County certainly doesn’t lead to lively public interest, given that, unless gross and inappropriate corruption occurred, there really isn’t much that would interest anyone other than a wonk.

    Wonks, however, do have a tendency to write the rules that the rest of us live by . . . .

  43. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    With regard to Centralized Control approaches to growth as opposed to market-based – I continue to be a bit of a skeptic.

    With regard to “blame” and not offering solutions – this I find .. irritating… sometimes…

    I’ve been pretty consistent in what I SUPPORT …

    How many folks have actually .. READ the JLARC report? It lays out in chapter and verse significant and meaningful changes that would substantially improve the way transportation planning is done in Va.

    Folks – you don’t need a State Level Planning Commission to read,understand and implement the JLARC recommendations – you merely need commitment.

    How many folks have actually .. READ the Va Auditor of Public Accounts recommendations for VDOT?

    Why do we have 6yr plans where the projects themselves are NOT adjusted for inflation and there is no Construction START Date on most of them? Think about WalMart functioning this way… with regard to building new stores….

    I support BOTH of these as comprehensive first starts towards rectifying some of our worst problems with regard to transportation planning and fiscal rigor.

    I also support … INDEXING the gas tax so that the revenues keep up with inflation and that VDOT has enough money to maintain the infrastructure that we currently have – including many bridges that are becoming unsafe.

    I also support … congestion pricing and electronic tolling as a way to bring in MORE revenues for transportation projects AND to actually MANAGE congestion.

    I also support PPTA approaches to new infrastructure.

    I also support making localities responsible for subdivision roads – as a way to firmly tie their land-use decisions to the fiscal consequences of those decisions.

    I feel that I have .. actually put MORE tangible things that can be done right now on the table than many folks.

    And I have consistently asked – for those who don’t agree with what I advocate to put something of their own on the table for discussion.

    and then I’ll finish up with this observation about the “congestion crisis”.

    When is the last time UPS told you that your package was DELAYED by congestion? How about the Grocery store? When was the last time you went shopping and they had a sign saying they were out of some things because of “congestion”? When was the last time .. your trash company told you that they no longer could collect your trash on time because of congestion?

    My attitude is that the “congestion” thing is being hyped by some in hopes of stampeding folks to support higher taxes – and AT THE SAME TIME – these same pro-tax folks really do not care about the JLARC and Va Auditor findings and recommendations that would lead to a more cost effective approach to transportation.

    And finally, what I would support … IS .. more money for VDOT .. IF it comes along with the JLARC and APC reforms.

    … where is the “blame” in the above advocacies?

  44. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    Larry I think you are so fixed on certain
    aspects of our problems you do not want
    to consider we have some big picture issues
    we need to resolve, thus a state planning
    department and stronger regional planning
    district commissions could help us create
    better land use plans linked to transpor-
    tation improvements.

    Ed Rissie is right. Our settlement patterns
    create disfunctional suburbs that no means
    can be found to solve our transportation

    Why not review the history of planning at
    the state level in Virginia? Why not have
    a national and international study done
    about planning programs in other states and
    even other countries? Why not review the
    history of development and planning fights
    in Fairfax County to help us better under-
    stand our mistakes?

    State planning and transportation officials
    should be charged with the responsibility to
    make transportation investments in systems
    that will rebuild our cities and older suburbs.
    Denver, Salt Lake City and Portland are all
    doing this with great success. Arlington
    County is a wonderful case study about how
    this concept works.

    None of this has anything to do with making
    certain business interests wealthy, as Reid
    Greenmum charges. Hell, we are going to add
    2 million more people over the next twenty
    years and double the cargo movement in and out
    of Hampton Roads. I don’t buy into his spin
    we should do nothing and allow the growth to
    continue as it has and just make our problems

    All of you on this blog taking these positions
    are not addressing our needs with good ideas
    that will help us out of this mess. I wonder
    if some of you are more interested in a fight
    than a settlement.


    Rodger Provo

  45. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Roger, et al.

    I think a way to fairly characterize the issue is to think about a house that you want to renovate but the roof is leaking.

    It’s a matter of triage.

    I’m all for finding out what went wrong and how to fix it and that is why I support JLARCs recommendations as a good first start.

    The folks who want to renovate the house and study the roof situation in the meantime… I think .. are not understanding nor focusing on what things need to be done first.

    And so I ask the question about the January GA.

    Name your priorities for that session.

    Specifically – what do you propose to do about VDOT funding…

    and what do you propose to do about land-use/transportation legislation

    and finally, would you implement via legislation the JLARC-recommended reforms?

    So I’m asking.. are you on the table with ideas to do now …. ???

    what are they.. ???

    Would you essentially recommend to legislators that we do one thing – form a study commission and have a moratorium on everything else including VDOT finances until the Study Commission reports back their recommendations.

    The point I made and make is this – The GA IS going to MEET… what do you want them to do when they meet?

    I feel like I’ve been up front, honest and open about what I advocate that they do. I’m asking an equivalent response.

    As a group – are the bloggers here so flummoxed by the issue that the cat has their proverbial tongues?

  46. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    I do not think anything meaningful will be
    accomplished in the 2007 General Assembly
    short session about land use and trans-

    This fight has been steered by Gov. Kaine
    and Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford
    County, to be the 2007 issue during the
    GA elections which all 140 members stand.

    Those who want us to find solutions to our
    problems need to prepare meaningful, well
    thought out resolutions for our needs that
    can be part of the election discussion.

    It may take the 2009 governor’s election
    before we get these matters to a point when
    real reform and progress can be made.

    The sad reality of this situation for the
    taxpayers of Virginia is that materials are
    rising in cost at a rate of 20 % year (steel,
    asphalt and concrete, for example). Thus, the
    longer we drag out the fight the more costly
    the solutions become.


    Rodger Provo

  47. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I must say, with all due respects, I’m amused.

    Whether or not we think the GA will do something – is not the same as responding with one’s own ideas of the GA should do.. once they get around to a session when they will do it.

    But I’d not rule out the 2007 session completely…

    For instance, the following transportation legislation is proposed:

    * HB 1638 Transportation Trust Fund; sales and use tax revenue dedicated thereto.
    * HB 1666 Transportation impact fees, statewide; Transportation Board to assess and impose.
    * HB 1667 Impact fees; Transportation Board to assess and impose on new developments in Loudoun County.
    * HB 1668 Impact fees; Transportation Board to assess and impose on new developments in Loudoun County.
    * HB 1685 Primary system highway construction; Transportation Board to allocate funds therefor.
    * HB 1700 Defense Facility and Transportation Improvement Fund and Program; created.
    * HB 1703 Retail Sales and Use Tax; increases amount of revenue dedicated to Transportation Trust Fund.
    * HB 1709 Car tax relief reimbursements; income tax sharing w/localities for transp. & educa. in lieu thereof.
    * HB 1716 Trucks & combination vehicles; Transp. Bd. to impose fee thereon for use of maintaining hwys.
    * HB 1717 Recordation tax; distribution of excess revenues to Transportation Board for certain projects.
    * HB 1718 Rezoning applic.; locality may deny/modify req. if existing netwk. inadequate to accomodate traffic.
    * HJ 18 Constitutional amendment; Transp. Fund, Transp. Trust Fund, & Hwy. Maintenance & Operating Fund.
    * HJ 558 Constitutional amendment; Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund, and Transportation Trust Fund.
    * HJ 565 Constitutional amendment; Transportation Trust Fund (first reference).
    * SB 752 Transportation Commissioner; salary and election thereof.
    * SB 753 Transportation Board; election of non-at-large members thereof by majority vote of General Assembly.
    * SJ 180 Constitutional amendment; funds for transportation purposes (first reference).
    * SJ 317 Constitutional amendment; Transportation Trust Fund (first reference).

    Do we REALLY think that NONE of the bills above have any significance or no chance of passage in this GA?

    Perhaps I’m too naive about politics ..

  48. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry and Others:

    2007 is an election year for all 140 members of the GA.
    Members will put bills in the hopper that will give them
    items to put in their campaign literature. I stand my
    view nothing major will happen in this session for the
    House of Delegates, the Senate and the Governor are miles
    apart relative to how we should better manage land use
    issues and meet our transportation needs. This fight
    will be sorted out by the voters in the 2007 election.
    It may not get resolved then. It may drag out into the
    2009 election for governor and the House. Larry, you are
    a bright person. Your Delegate, Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania,
    has a bill in play to abolish the Senate and have the state
    adopt a one house legislature, as Nebraska did in 1937. I
    doubt that bill is going to doing much to facilitate the
    working relation between the House and Senate.


    Rodger Provo

  49. You can get some idea of how bankrupt these ideas are when Ed Risse resorts to promoting private legs as a means to promote mobility. Look at the history of times when legs were the only means of transport and try to show those people had more mobility.

    Check out someone who lives, carless, in Arlington vs virtually anyone else, and see who has more useable mobility.

    Check out the post below with quotes from the Arlington transportation plan that says flatly that congestion will get worse, that more people are driving alone and driving out of the county to work, and then explain to me how this multibillion dollar fiasco is a TDM success.

    Even if you can find the numbers that prove unequivocally that the Arlington experiment reduced VMT by 5%, what value is it if the number of residents and number of outside travellers have each increased by 15%?

    Check out Portland carefully and explain why it is one of the least affordable cities and less affordable than it was before major the UGB was established. Explain why much of Portland’s growth is actually across the state line. Explain why Oregon residents passed Measure 37. Check out Portland’s congestion statistics. Is that really a model we want to emulate?

    Finally, Reid Greenmun is right, all of this promotion and support of the central cities is being done using money and resources from the suburbs and beyond: it is the cities that are not paying their full locational costs. I’m about to have a power line built through the midle of my farm. Apparently, my location is so important that three of the proposed routes each pass through different areas of the farm. It is so important that part of it will be taken from me through the use of government force for the benefit of the teeming millions who will use the electricity. Surely if that many people benefit, there ought to be enough money to pay a fair price, but as Reid notes, the outer areas are being punished to support the urban majority and their lifestyle of wastefulness.

    When the nation’s capital is too dangerous for even the government’s major agencies, what more needs to be said? When they want to move out for lower costs and a more stable workforce, what more needs to be said? When the Arlington government spends far more money per person than the average across the state, where is the supposed efficiency that Arlington should generate?

    Finally, all of the proposed bills Larry mentions above boil down to, guess what, more money. We may think we can tax the guy behind the tree, but the economy will re-gift whatever largesse we impose fairly efficiently. We will all pay, in the end. Rather than waste any more money trying to figure out how to impose our will on someone else, we need to raise, and spend, the needed money efficiently.

    Talk provides neither roads, nor transit, nor even sidewalks for those with legs.

  50. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Well… it appears to me that Gov. Kaine intends to use action/inaction in the 2007 GA as 2007 campaign issues and especially so in the urban areas – to gain a Democratic majority in the House.

    If you’re a GA guy in NoVa/HR … who votes against increased high-profile transportation funding (splattered in Big Headlines in their home districts).. I’d posit that you might end up with a bulls eye on your backside… and put a smile on Kaines Face… 🙂

    Heck .. Virginia will get it’s own version of “cut and run” … 🙂

  51. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Re nothing happening this session
    I agree, nothing has changed in the last four months on the house, senate, or governors side. The special transportation session was a failure for all involved. If anything each side is even more entrenched because it is an election year. Nobody wants anyone to get credit for a “Victory” its politics at its worst

    It is on record that the house leadership is willing to lose R held seats in NoVA. The interesting phenomona emerging is that once this happens you can draw lines around the major population centers. Pretty soon there will be a regional divide between urban innercore entirely D and rural entirely R. Once this is complete we can have regional warfare which is what all local government people are lobbying the general assembly to do (at least in NoVA land). Watch Richmond metro especially because the R grip is slowly melting away. There is a reason that most rural areas are R and urban areas are D (which has been hinted at in several previous posts).

    Its always been about who controls the suburbs. There in lies the monkey wrench because you have the Business Rs aligned with the more services Ds conflicted with the Fiscal and Private citizen hawks which lean R but are really all over the map. Then there is the final social issues piece which adds more Rs. but enough political stuff thats for other blogs 🙂

    Here is an attempt at a real solution. We need to pass everything yep everything. We need more sustainable funding like the Senate and Governor are proposing AND we need better planning and VDOT reforms with JLERC that the house is primarily pushing with some help from the Governor.

    Once the reforms are in place then we can have a debate about whether 500 million extra a year or 1 billion extra a year is best. As a compromise we could have 750 million a year using 1/2 the proposed revenue of the house and 1/2 the proposed revenue of the gov or senate (They ended up being pretty similar) with an option of creating additional districts who can tax themselves for more revenue. That last part is the stickiest but I think it is the only option for getting something done.

    Oh and one thing about the post above to keep the discussion moving.

    “Even if you can find the numbers that prove unequivocally that the Arlington experiment reduced VMT by 5%, what value is it if the number of residents and number of outside travellers have each increased by 15%”

    Imagine what would happen if Arlington never existed VMT up say 20% resdients down say 20% and number of outside travellers up 50%. The counterargument is what is the costbenefit analysis on Arlington (i.e. was the money spent on Arlington worth it). Also what would the savings/other costs have been if Arlington wasnt built. This is the real tool (ussed by business 🙂 ) we need to figure out how to best develop areas and have efficient government

    That would be an interesting exercise. Take all of the taxes collected/money spent in a jurisdiction and subtract out the economic output. Each area would get an efficiency score. This study has been done at a state level and the truly ironic thing is the blue states are more efficient than the red ones. I wonder if a study has been done on the county level of say Virginia.

    You guys are right the cities are expensive but the rural areas are too. Its the burbs that truly get ripped off. So when is that third party suburbia starting. Tim Kaine ran on it but then he changed his tune… actually all polticians run on it and change there tune blah blah been said before.

    OK enough talking from me maybe I should start my own blog haha.

  52. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Larry, thank you for supporting my point. Governor Kaine isn’t really committed to working with the GA to find solutions for improving our state’s transportation system, he’s main objective is using inaction to improve transportation as a Democrat Party political strategy in a blatant partisan attempt to rid the House of Delegates of Republicans.

    As others have pointed out here, thus the 2007 session of the GA is more about political party maneuvering than about doing the work of the people.

    As to the tired and worn our accusations by some that those that focus on how we arrived in this sad state of affairs offer no constructive recommendations – I have offered many.

    I support:

    • REMOVE ACCIDENTS FASTER: Improving the efforts of first responders and our STCs to expedite removal accidents from clogging up our highways during periods of peak road usage. Think of NASCAR-like Pit Crews that are well trained to get the job done with blinding speed and efficiency.
    • MAKE BETTER USE OF THE ROADS WE HAVE: pass legislation limiting large trucks to non-peak usage hours – thus reducing traffic congestion during peak commuter times. Large trucks and commuter cars really do not mix very well. Offer tax incentives to LARGE employers to stagger their hours of operation so their shift workers commute during low-usage times.
    • PLACE TRANSPORTATION BACK INOT THE GENERAL FUND: Do away with the TTF and the political patronage appointed CTB. Transportation is as important as any other state government services – let us do a better job of prioritizing state spending and do away with the bogus “wall” that pretends that somehow Transportation needs cannot be funded from the General Fund.
    • Create a list of the state’s most critical transportation needs – based on reducing EXISTING traffic congestion and performing needed maintenance that has been neglected and places roads and bridges in danger to travelers. One the list is prioritized, but the projects out for FFP bids – build what we can afford, starting at the top of the list. Focus VDOT management on expediting construction so we don’t drag out construction schedules.
    • STOP WASTFUL SPENDING: Place a moratorium on “amenities”. No more $7M bathrooms simply because they receive a large amount of Federal transportation Funding. Stop spending state transportation funds on non-essential projects like the Schooner Virginia in Norfolk!
    • PASS THE COST OF NEW LANE CAPACITY OFF TO NEW DEVELOPMENT: Stop the insanity of allowing local governments to approve new development that overwhelms roadways – and not pass the costs for new road capacity onto those that are buying the new homes or businesses in the new development. APF legislation.
    • COMMIT TO WHAT WE GET – WHEN – AS A ROI FOR NEW TAXES: New taxes can only be considered for specific transportation projects – using not to exceed budgets and a drop dead completion date for the new capacity to be made available. No more raising taxes as a blank check to be frittered away on – whatever. That is bad stewardship of our tax funds.
    • NO ALL-APPOINTED REGIONAL AUTHORITIES – they are a recipe for corruption and unaccountable “regional government”. The HRPDC/MPO have already proven what a horrible idea these out-of-control, unaccountable regional authorities really are. I have a 3 year old point paper with 10 steps to improve regional transportation planning and a better way for regional government decision-making. I have shared this with the GA representatives and across the Commonwealth with taxpayer groups and media.

  53. nova_middle_man Avatar

    One last qualifier

    Tim Kaine went back to being a city boy more money more services and the R retort is less money less services until we need to provide power or roads out to say your farm (I kid or do I hehe) I think the retort is wheres the shovel or put a toll booth buy my driveway :). The point is it goes both ways.

  54. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I could actually sign on to what 1:53 PM, nova_middle_man advocates

    If I thought that decent (yes I’ll settle for “decent” … down a notch from “significant” ) reform went along with the new money.

    re: Regional Authorities. Sometimes I get different vibes from folks on this issue.

    I presume that everyone realizes that MPOs are, in fact, Federally-mandated Regional Authorities – no if ands or buts.

    They are not going to go away anytime soon unless the GA decides to opt-out of Fed Transportation dollars.

    For those opposed to such authorities … are you also opposed to Planning Districts? How about Regional Jail, Library, water and sewer authorities, etc?

    What would you replace them with?

    So I see this dichotomy where it appears to me that folks who FAVOR state-wide planning are, in essence opposed to region-wide planning … or please correct me and further articulate.

    My view is that “planning” without the legal authority to make decisions is not going to work… that .. say.. you have a Regional Jail Authority where each member jurisdiction has a vote to represent their interests…

    it appears to me that this “works” … at least it seems to work in our area…

  55. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry, NoVa Middleman and Others:

    Virginia does need some of everything: a) funds to cover the
    expenses for the projects needed to relieve the congestion
    and services problems today b) land use reform to deal with
    future growth c) including regional plans created by PDCs
    with power and d) creation of a state planning department to
    create plans to steer growth into our cities and older suburbs
    linked with new light rail and streetcar systems. It also
    needs improvements in our system to deal with the flood of
    cargo traffic that will continue to grow in Hampton Roads, the
    movement of truck traffic along I-81 and I-95 and much needed
    rural system improvements to encourage some of our growth to
    take place in Southside and Southwest Virginia. This is a
    political game, the 2007 GA session is a stage setter for the
    fall elections and those of you interested in these problems
    needed to organize your resources to be a factor in those hard
    fought campaigns that will take place in the fall.


    Rodger Provo

  56. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    PDCs need to revert back to what they were created for – regional planners that offer advice to local governments, not a all-appointed regional super-government that subverts the poer of local government.

    IRT: “land use reform to deal with future growth c) including regional plans created by PDCs
    with power

    I have already witnessed that not only are regional authorities with “power” needed, they are a bad idea.

    What do we replace them with – I am asked. We go back to using our local government and state government to make decisions. The PDC coducts research and uses experts to draft options for consideration by local governments in their assigned region – and for the state transportation planning process/CTB.

    Instead of creating another layer of government – the PDC can be a place for local governments to sent ONE representative – to discuss regional matters. The ONE representative returns to their local BOS or City Council and all regional issues requiring a vote are placed on the local government agenda – for a roll call vote. Citizens are then free to sign up to discuss regional matters and the outcome of their local government (BOS or City Council) vote results in a Directed Vote that the ONE representative then takes back to the PDC to record his local government’s decision. Each ONE PDC representative votes and the vote is weighted; based on the population of the local government the regional representaitve is voting on be half of (one vote for each 10,000 residents) – thus a more equitable voting process is used instead of the unfair voting process the PDCs have today.

    My plan? Make better use of the directly elected representatives we already have – hold THEM accountable for making regional decisions. Do our best to help make each citizen in each local government equally represented at the PDC vote. Remove voting power from anyone else, like VDOT reps or the local regional mass transit Executive Director – they are not elected representatives – they should NOT vote on the PDC.

  57. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Ops, This:

    I have already witnessed that not only are regional authorities with “power” needed, they are a bad idea.

    Should have read thus:

    I have already witnessed that not only are regional authorities with “power” not needed, they are a bad idea.


  58. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “vote results in a Directed Vote that the ONE representative then takes back to the PDC to record his local government’s decision.”

    as far as I know this is the way it works with most of the local authorities that I’m familiar with including the MPO … with the exception of VDOT which, in essence controls many of the road decisions – because they control decisions about what projects to allocate funding for.

    Local officials can vote for priorities but as I’m sure many of you .. familiar with the way the VDOT 6 yr plan “works”, local elected officials may never know from one year to the next.. which projects will receive funding and which ones will not.

    So I would urge anyone considered about “unelected” authorities to take a hard look at the VDOT authority.

  59. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim, Larry, NoVa Middleman,Reid Greenmum and Others:

    The PDCs need authority and power. The problem we have now is
    that each community does its own thing thus we have gotten the
    results we are struggling to resolve. Two or three metropolitan
    areas around the country have PDCs that are elected regional
    governments charged with such government services as planning
    and transportation.

    Hell, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District Commission provides
    a sewer system for a metropolitan area with more than 1.5 million
    residents. Portland, Oregon has an elected regional government.
    That community has 1.6 million residents. I think Minneapolis
    and St. Paul have a similar system, as does Miami and Dade County.

    Guys, we need to think out of the box to find solutions to Virginia’s
    problems. All of you are interested citizens. You owe it to your
    state to offer Virginia solutions not hurdles. I was once told by
    an associate years ago some people can tell 10 reasons why you are
    not able to do something, while others can give you insight in how
    to get something done.

    Think about it.


    Rodger Provo

  60. “was the money spent on Arlington worth it”

    Exactly my qustion, though I never thought of it so succinctly.

    Thank you.

    Who knows? Who knows how even to find out? If you just left privte enterprise alone, the answere is pretty certain, whatever didn’t pay its own way wouldn’t be there. It is only when you inject huge sums of money and central planning that you even need to ask the question.

    In the context of transportation the question is, whether the money spent on transportation in Arlington was worth it. Without proof, I think it probably was.

    Does that mean theat more of the same is better? I don’t think so. According to the planning document, they don’t have the money they need, they are built out with respect to streets, and NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO CONGESTION WILL GET WORSE.

    Like I said to Larry, I don’t think it is possible to solve congestion in NOVA (absent major job losses). But you first have to recognize that you are in a hole before you can think about not digging any more


    It seems to me that Reid is right. Removing accidents faster is the single thing we can do to remove the greatest amount of congestion.

    Make better use of the roads we have, and most of the unused roads we ahave are in places we are not using, either.

    They are actually using transportation funds for the Schonner Virginia? YIKES, and I’m a sailor in favor of historic preservation, but this?

    $7 million dollar bathrooms? Execrable.

    Put transportation back in the general fund and actually have priorities? We gonna put Larry’s tolls back in the general fund, too? I think we all pay for everything anyway, I guess a free for all is better than what we have now, which is nothing.

    I still think we should just put the budget on the back of the ta form and lete each allocate their money as they see fit. I guarantee it would average out to exactly the “will of the people”.

    Pass the cost of new lane capacity off to new development. Do that and it will come right back to bite you. This an idea that sounds nice and works terrible. Could we work a little bit more in that direction? Yes, but first we have to EITHER admit that residential doesn’t pay its own way, and therefore at least some of the lane backlog is our own fault, not the new guys, and raise our taxes accordingly OR admit that residential doesn’t pay its own way because we designed it that way, and therefore forcing new residential to pay its own way is bogus.

    NO ALL APPOINTED REGIONAL AUTHORITIES. Period. How stupid can we get?

  61. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Ray Hyde:

    “NO ALL APPOINTED REGIONAL AUTHORITIES, Period. How stupid can we get?”

    Mr. Hyde, then I guess you are opposed to the following regional authorities, agencies, etc.
    in Virginia:

    -Virginia Ports Authority
    -Regional economic development alliances
    -Regional jail authorities
    -Regional landfill authorities
    -Regional library systems
    -Regional airport authorities
    -Regional planning districts
    -and the list goes on and on ….

    Mr. Hyde you are not a friend of the taxpayers of Virginia, you are not
    an advocate of progress, you need to move … you are not a responsible
    citizen of our state ….


    Rodger Provo

  62. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Ray Hyde:

    Please add regional transit systems (such as the very successful
    FRED system in the Fredericksburg area that serves the elderly
    and poor in that city and surrounding 4 counties needing trans-
    portation, as well as the students at our local university) to
    your hit list.

    Rodger Provo

  63. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I would posit as long as authorities operate by vote with the individual members vote being a directed vote by their own jurisdiction that they are acceptable as proxy authorities for a region.

    And frankly, I think it is just plain dumb to have say.. multiple libraries or jails – each with it’s own administrative overhead – very costly to taxpayers.

    But I would agree with those who question Authorities that are appointed and do not operate by concurrence and support of the localities.

    I think .. if there is going to be discussion of more, better regional approaches to land-use and development (which I DO think is sorely needed) that having unelected folks making such decisions is not a good thing.

    I give as evidence the MPOs where are SUPPOSED to be able to decide Region’s priorities for transportation but, in fact, do not (unless they represent MSAs over 200k) and instead – VDOT calls the shots because VDOT controls BOTH the state and federal fund allocations.

    But I would support both MPO and Regional Planning Authorities – as long as they represent the will of those elected by citizens. I’m opposed to centralized planning by unaccountable folks no matter how “creative” and “enlightened” they might be simply because I think than any government needs to be responsive and accountable.

    We DO have a problem with regional land use issues. When one locality builds a mega-mall to capture sales tax revenues to help it pay for residential development .. and an adjacent locality does the same thing – they end up in direct competition for the same sales tax dollars and one can see the result in a lot of communities – abandoned commercial retail parcels… that do an area as newer facilities are built in an effort to get the upper hand.

    If localities had an environment where they could share the sales tax proceeds – then there would be a lot less dodge-city and a lot more rational planning with respect to commercial development.

    Right now – if a locality wants a retail corporate player – they usually have to agree to give them direct access to a major transportation corridor so they can be assured of customer “traffic”.

    If localities approached this regionally – they could drive the process and be rid of a situation where the retailer plays off the localities against each other – and in the process – screwing up the local transportation grid.

    I am QUITE SURE that Mr. Provo has some thoughts on this issue. 🙂

  64. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Larry:

    I do not disagree with some of your thoughts about regional efforts.

    But regional airport authorities, economic development authorities,
    jails, landfills, libraries, planning groups and transit systems
    are good deals for the taxpayer. Most are already mandated by
    state law. They save money and they provide better services.

    Many of these multi-community concepts, such as regional libraries,
    were established in the late 1960s when Mills Godwin created the
    regional planning districts and state planning department during
    his first term as governor.

    I know from my work around the state our system of local govern-
    ment encourages unproductive competition at times between cities
    and counties who approve new commercial projects in the spirit of
    generating more revenue for their needs, but in reality they often
    simply allow new projects to drain business from existing ones. It
    is often common in Virginia for one community to want to create
    these revenue generators, while forcing the housing obligations on
    other communities. Fredericksburg’s Central is a good example of
    how that has taken place.


    Rodger Provo

  65. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    One of the outcomes of the Fredericksburg Area Reality Check exercise was support for a Regional Comprehensive Plan.

    It’s a radical idea for Virginia and perhaps some other states but at the least it makes allies of adjacent localities to not only cooperate on provisioning infrastructure and services but in pursuing economic development opportunities for the Region.

    … but I’m still not in favor of any Regional Authority that is not accountable to elected officials and voters.

    As long as the Regional Authority is representative and responsive and it’s budget is decided by the member jurisdictions then I’m ok with it.

    VRE (commuter rail) is an example of this can work properly and it just got better since they decide to align the votes in proportion to member jurisdiction population and participation.

    I DO think that some of the most serious problems (and pursuit of some of the best opportunities) that we have is a lack of a rational process to do effective Regional Planning.

  66. Sorry, I’ll stick to my guns on this.

    If they are spending my money and they do not have directly elected supervision, then these regional authorities are basically out of control. They are unelected, nonofficial, undelineated, government organizations with no real mandate or accountability to the people they serve.

    This is one case where I agree with EMR. Either, we need more levels of government,(which I don’t think is a good idea) and those levels should be directly accountable to the voters, or else the existing govenerments should work the equivalent agreements out throug negotiations signed be elected representatives.

    This nonsense of having a board, with broad powers, appointed by elected officials who provide no real oversight is beyond stupid. There are far too many examples to note.

    The ballot doesn’t work very well, but it works a whole lot better than no ballot, or one which is twice removed.

    Besides, don’t you suppose that if all those special interest boards were actually elected that we would have a lot more people show up to vote?

    I’ll concede a prejudice. My basckground is New England town meeting, where not a dime got spent without the towns people having a public say in te matter. (Tightly controlled with Robert’s Rules.)

    If we need regional government, then lets have it, and do away with the state government, that doesn’t seem to be up to the task. How many of the comments in today’s poast had to do with secession of NOVA?

    I think the system is upside down. I should elect my local representatives. Period.

    They should elect my regional and state representatives. If I don;t like who they elect, I have far more power to fire my locals than I have the regionals or state level.

    In a seperate round of elections, I should elect my federal representatives. When they want money, they negotiate with my state guys, my state guys negotiate with my local and regional guys, and they send me the bill. If I don’t like it, I fire my local guys, where I have the most leverage.

    Why should I have to write checks to the local guys, the regional guys, the state guys, and the federal guys? Let them work it out and send me one bill.

    Let them make sure it is one I can actually pay and still eat. If they don’t, then I fire my local guy.

    How hard is that?

  67. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    No hard at all.

    I presume from your treatise that you also feel the same way about VDOT and the CTB in terms of being unelected and unaccountable.


  68. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Reality Check: This next statement is completely false in Hampton Roads:

    . . . But regional airport authorities, economic development authorities,
    jails, landfills, libraries, planning groups and transit systems
    are good deals for the taxpayer. Most are already mandated by
    state law. They save money and they provide better services.

    HREDA, SPSA, HRT, yhe VPA, and the HRPDC/MPO do not save money, nor provide better services, nor are they a good deal for taxpayers.

    Clearly those that support Virignia all-appointed regional authorities have much to learn about their abuse and flagrant disregard for the citizens of the region they claim to govern.

    SPSA is a total disaster. The debt due to mismanagement will destroy it. That, once the law suits by Chesapeake are settled.

    Once created, HRT dramatically reduced transit services and increased overhead/admin costs by over 35% – now it has has grown its budget to over $50M a year – and offers significantly less transit services and paratransit services than the non-regional PennTrann and TRT transit systems did – with half the combined budget. In essence HRT has morphed into a taxpayer subsidized lobby – seeking more tax dollars.

    And the VPA is the reason our region’s transportation improvements have been held hostage for a decade – in order to blackmail the citizens of the region by refusing to move forward with key transportation projects unless the VPA and the local business lobby force local taxpayers to pay $4.4 BILLION dollars for a new bridge-tunnel – for thosands of additional trucks to support the VPA port “growth” – such a deal!

    Not to mention the billions of additional Federal tax dollars required to dredge the port to accomodate the new deep draft multimodal container ships the VPA is seeking to attract.

    Gee … such a deal – for the taxpayers of our region – not!

    Citizens are not permitted to speak at HRPDC/MPO “public hearings”. The non-elected six-figured salaried Executive Director locks the doors to the meeting of the 17 non-elected and VOTING members of the HRPDC – the so-called CAOs (Cheif Administration Officers). Then refuces to comply with the FIOA – claiming the non-elected (but VOTING members of the HRPDC) are not elected officials and therefore the public has no right to their regional decision-making process. This, BTW, includes the media too.

    Art Collins, the HRPDC Executive Director informed a Daily press reporter that if he didn’t like it he could sue Art – because the HRPDC regional building was his building – he paid for it.

    Art Collins and the HRPDC staff lobbied in support of the YES Campaign in the 2002 Regional Sales Tax Referendum – a vote revealed that the citizens of the region rejected the YES Campaign regional transportation plan by a two to one margin.

    Yet here we are in 2006 – and the HRPDC is still pushing the same rejected plan, the same rejected $10B “package” of regional highways.

    And still ignoring the most critical transportation needs in the region – to include adding much needed lane capacity to the HRBT bottleneck.

    Folks – all appointed regional authorities are a horrible ‘deal” for taxpayers.

    And they haven’t saved any money in Hampton Roads.

    We have already spent over $1B on our region’s STC (Smart Traffic Center) – and it has NOTHING to reduce traffic congestion within our region.

    But hey, now we can WATCH traffic congestion from our computers once we get home. Wow – such a deal!

  69. Anonymous Avatar

    Wow. I go away for a few days and the debate continued way beyond expectations.

    Observations: As someone who has worked on a local and regional level and also in the corporate world, I agree with the Republicans about bureacracy. The more we get, the harder it is to get things done. However, to get anything done, even a road built, costs a great deal today. Counties can’t typically agree; fights between localities are common. Think about the reservoir proposal for the Mattaponi. The points of view on that are as opposite as one can get. Who decided? That should be the state government but elected officials have a bad habit of creating layers between them and decisions; not just committees to assess information but bodies with powers that can diffuse the decision making authority. Thus no one is accountable.

    Many of the authorities that Mr. Hyde and Mr. Provo note function extremely well. However Mr. Hyde is correct in that populist control is diminished. But we are in an extremely complex society. If the citizens voted on every expenditure we would get nothing done. What works in the New England town hall is not possible in a population of millions, many of whom don’t vote.

    I will say that if regional bodies don’t function, then elected officials should clean them up and get people on those bodies who can make them function. That’s a failure that we can assess to the GA.

    I think that we are talking around the real failure–that of the General Assembly and Governor to do their jobs and govern. The political posturing that goes on, based on party structure which are fractured internally, is a comedy of errors. Whether I agree with him or not, I enjoy Chichester because he focuses on what he believes is correct and he goes there; that’s not the case with those more closely aligned to having personal power within a specific party structure.

    The latter would seem at this point to include the House Republicans and the Governor.

    Until the party system is cleaned up we won’t have good governance because those we elect will be motivated to be there for life rather than motivated to get something done.

    That’s the real issue.

    Risse talks about fundamental change. The foundations have to come first. No change of significance will occur until we have some leadership with integrity and focus on what is good for Virginia and for our people.

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