A Transportation Compromise Still in the Cards?

Following the apparent defeat of the GOP transportation package in the Senate Finance Committee, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine appealed to the fractious General Assembly leadership yesterday to keep working on a transportation compromise. “We need everyone to stay at the table. I’m not taking my marbles and going home,” said the Governor, as quoted by Michael Hardy and Jeff E. Schapiro in the Times-Dispatch.

No additional work would have been necessary if the Governor had exercised some restraint over his fellow Democrats in the Senate who joined with Sen. John J. Chichester, R-Northumberland, to back a competing proposal and scuttle the GOP package in the process. Kaine has done a lot of posturing in front of the microphones, but if he has done anything constructive to negotiate a compromise, no evidence of it has surfaced in press reports.

Not that I’m looking for a deal at this point. Anything resulting from a union of the Chichester/Democrat faction and the Senate/House GOP faction would be too atrocious to contemplate.

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14 responses to “A Transportation Compromise Still in the Cards?”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Jim Bacon:

    Again, I find I must take issue with your hopeless, negative view of Virginia’s future relative to the transportation package now in
    limbo in the General Assembly.

    You need to give the governor some

    It was the GOP Attorney General and GOP leadership of the General Assembly that took the state down
    a wrong road creating their so-called compromise plan in secret
    meetings in a posh hotel in down-
    town Richmond, while excluding the
    Governor and others, including the
    public, from the process.

    Contrary to your view of the world,
    we need just the opposite from what
    you advocate.

    I would urged the GA leadership to meet to seek to make a blend of the competing transportation plans
    to be adopted this year.

    I would urge the Governor and the
    GA to send a delegation out to Utah, Oregon and Vancouver, BC this year to study other concepts of
    dealing with growth management issues.

    Then, they should seek to organize a group of all the stakeholders with a vested interest in that matter to formulate a plan with public imput to solve our hard, difficult problems. That group
    should be charged with producing
    a plan for action by the 2008 GA

    Both actions relative to our growth
    and transportation issues would put
    Virginia on a course for a better


    Rodger Provo

  2. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    While the ship is sinking, they are debating the deck chairs.
    Virginia has been on the wrong tack for the last 40 years. It is in shoal waters. Now they are debating how much sail to set. They should be discussing a new tack.

    Virginia should have one Transportation priority, a new allocation formula. Walter J. Kucharski Auditor of Public Accounts for the Commonwealth has stated “…the Code of Virginia … prescribes the allocation formula and the specific order in which Transportation must use the allocation. Due to these constraints, Transportation cannot prioritize Primary System projects on a statewide basis.”

    That’s auditor language. My version is that more money won’t work; more studies of priorities won’t work; more efficiency and accountability won’t work. Only changing the allocation formula will work.

    My quote comes from page 20 of the APA report entitled, “Follow-Up on the Special Review of the Cash Management and Capital Budgeting Practices for the Department of Transportation.” http://www.apa.state.va.us/data/download/reports/audit_local/VDOTfollowup04.pdf

  3. Groveton Avatar

    Mr. Provo:

    Regarding your comment, “I would urge the Governor and the
    GA to send a delegation out to Utah, Oregon and Vancouver, BC this year to study other concepts of
    dealing with growth management issues.”.

    Thank you.

    I would add Austin TX, Singapore and Silicon Valley, CA to your list but you absolutely have the right idea.

    The people we have elected to state-wide office in Virginia are hopelessly lost.

    They are not going to succeed by sitting in Richmond (posh hotels or otherwise) and debating each other. They people engaged in the debate just don’t get it.

    Tim Kaine and John Chichester are both career politicians. Kaine is even married to Linwood Holton’s daughter. Chichester has been in politics since 1978.

    I am sure that they are both dedicated men. I am sure they are both smart men. I am sure that they don’t know their “ass from page 8” about global class economic growth in a practical way. If they did – Virginia wouldn’t be in the bind it’s in.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Groveton, Jim Wamsley:

    Thank you for your comments.

    Groveton, I agree with you that the crowd in Richmond is lost relative to how to deal with these issues.

    Jim, you are right we have been
    on the wrong track for a long time.
    But the encouraging news is that
    many communities and states are now
    dealing with these problems much
    better than we are.

    We will never get these problems
    solved with a few General Assembly
    members meeting privately in a posh
    downtown Richmond hotel, excluding
    others who should be involved, trying to create plans relative to
    these matters driven by political

    Groveton, I like the two cities you
    mentioned. Australia and Europe
    should also be on our study list.

    I think likely changes in our energy sources will force us to use
    mass transit and rail more to solve
    our transportation needs and new
    growth should be linked to those


    Rodger Provo

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I would suggest that BOTH sides have the same problem.

    Both of them prefer to make political deals in back rooms where influence from lobby types trumps citizens.

    The pro-growth folks only want one thing – more money from taxpayers to continue funding of the status quo.

    All other options are unacceptable.

    Give the Dems credit – they are honest and up front about the gas tax.

    Give the Republicans demerits. They also want to raise taxes but they want to pretend that as long as they are more obscure and harder to recognize than gas taxes that taxpayers won’t notice.

    I really don’t think this is about legislators and the Governor and company as not having a clue about how to do what other states are doing.

    This is not rocket science.

    It’s does not take an Einstein to observe that what other states are doing is not complicated – but simple and that is to involve communities meaninfully in deciding what they want their communities to be.

    In Virginia, we have allowed those with financial interests to have a stanglehold on growth and development issues.

    Until we develop the will to see what the problem is – and to develop the backbone to throw out of office those who demonstrate a preference to back room deals with the public excluded – I think we are whistling in the wind.

    Who in our government, our elected, our leaders IS .. right now.. supporting something like Envision Virginia as an approach to solutions?

    I’m not intending to be negative but rather pragmatic.

    It’s nice to talk about what we need but what good is it if the folks in Richmond don’t care and won’t listen anyhow?

    This is why I favor Citizen Inititiave.

    Many of the states that you folks point to as examples for us to follow – have citizen initiative – it’s not a coincindence.

    Don’t yall find it ironic that the knock-down drag out in Richmond is all about what the legislators want and virtually nothing with regard to citizens feelings on the issues?

  6. Groveton Avatar

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    The Dems are willing to let SOME sun shine in.

    Good for them.

    The state legislators practice “mushroom management” with regard to the voters – Keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em crap.

    The voters need to practice “David Copperfield” with the incumbents at the next election – Now you see ’em, now you don’t.

  7. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Jim Bacon: You’re right about the nightmare of the Senate plan marrying the ‘compromise’ (with Republican principles) House plan being ugly. Bad weds bad. Ugly marries ugly. Frankenstein marries his sister. Monster incest.

    Wrong for Virginia.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    What legislator has told his/her constituents the facts with regard to the 400 lane miles of subdivision roads that has robbed VDOT of maintenance funds?

    What legislator has told his/her constituents how much money their district pays in gas taxes and how much money is spent by VDOT in their district?

    What legislator has told their constituents that the current gas tax is only enough to pay for maintenance of roads?

    I could go on – but when I read in the paper interviews with legislators whether they be Mr. Howell or Mr. Chichester or just the legislator representing Clark county – none speak in terms of what all of this means to them as drivers using their local and regional roads.

    The average person simply does not understand the “steal money from the general fund for highways” dialogue.

    I would posit that if you took a POLL of 100 drivers about this question that “don’t know” would win hands down.

    What this says to me is that the legislators are NOT informing their constituents about the issues and what the various options are in terms of costs and benefits to taxpayers.

    For instance – for your own locality, what would be the difference in transportation funds for the Republican and Democratic Plans?

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Across all threads the debate continues with respect to transportation and settlement patterns, et all.

    Let me ask a simple question.

    Say that – congestion was out of the equation – issue resolved what would be the next 3 most important issues to be addressed with regard to potential new/different/evolving approaches to settlement patterns.

    In other words, Priortize AND Rank the top three besides congestion – issues associated with dysfunctional settlement patterns.

    For the record, I don’t buy the electricity and phone assertions.

    I thin BOTH of them can be handled better by charging for duration and intensity of use where it costs more to use more and it costs even more to use more when the system is experiencing max loads.

    so what other cost of location – costs are at issue?

  10. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    The message I get from today’s Washington Post is VDOT will spend any money it gets on the wrong thing

    VDOT plans to spend $9.6 million in funding to widen a portion of Interstate 66 inside the Beltway. Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada (D) said “It appears . . . that the changes will happen. But adding extra lanes is not a magic solution.” Instead, Tejada said, the county supports such alternatives as increasing the use of buses and other public transportation.

    This is one example of what happens to our transportation dollar. Until these glaring examples are corrected compromise is not the solution.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m going to weigh in on this – I hope carefully.


    Who is this change primarily to SERVE?

    Is the agnst with the process or is it with not listening to all or a majority of stakeholders?

    Is the essential issue to have infrastructure for those who commute to jobs?

    Is the opposition from folks who live there that will be adversely impacted by additional traffic/noise?

    Is the advocacy for bus/transit for specific facilities that should be where traffic exits or is it about increased traffic itself that in some opinions is emblematic of the much larger issue of why people drive rather than use transit in the Wash Metro Area?

    so I see two issues essentially:

    1. – the process
    2. – the issues

  12. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    The summary is on page 37 of this link. Look at the spot improvements.


    The only ones who benefit are those who get the $9.6 million. The only ones who lose are the ones who pay the $9.6 million.

    You can Google the rest.

  13. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    JW .. gee thanks… I was sorting hoping for a JW view…

  14. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    At 1:22 PM, Larry Gross said…
    JW .. gee thanks… I was sorting hoping for a JW view…

    The JW view. The reference is an excellent summary. Look for green circles and see what is being done. Basically nothing. Look lower on the chart and see more green circles on transit improvements. The JW view is that VDOT should get no more money until the VA Code is changed so that VDOT can spend money on transit improvements when they provide better value for the taxpayer.

    The short summary is: The only ones who benefit are those who get the $9.6 million. The only ones who lose are the ones who pay the $9.6 million.

    We would be better off if VDOT just gave the $9.6million to the contractor and didn’t move a shovel of dirt. There would be no construction impact on I-66.

    “Anything resulting from a union of the Chichester/Democrat faction and the Senate/House GOP faction would be too atrocious to contemplate.” Any compromise will set the taxpayer back by the amount of increased funding.

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