Two Plans for Hampton Roads Transportation

There are two bills from Republican Hampton Roads Delegates for the special Transportation session of the GA. (http:/ – click on ‘2006 Special 1’)

Delegates Jones, Oder, Iaquinto and Suit (HB5072) have dressed up the failed ’02 Transportation Tax Scam with new funding, Private-Public Transportation Act authority and people-less tolling with congestion tolling.

Delegate Waldrup (HB5091) pulls all the bridges and tunnels across the James and Elizabeth Rivers and The Bay into a Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

Both become unelected Regional Governments – using the exact same wording, but the scope is different.

HB5072, or ‘Back to the Future’ Bill, creates a Hampton Roads Transportation Authority which pulls in 11 Hampton Roads communities (then adds Accomack and Northampton on the Eastern Shore) to build the same projects that were offered in the ’02 referendum that voters rejected.

HB5091, or the ‘Bay Bridge Authority on Steroids’ Bill, creates a Bridge and Tunnel Authority that includes only 9 Hampton Roads communities (- Williamsburg, James City and York Co, + Northampton).

Both omit Poquoson on The Peninsula and Surry, Sussex and Southampton along 460. Good for us.

HB 5072 gets the money with the following:
• Electronic tolling and congestion tolling
• Additional tax each year at registration ($30 for a car)
• One time tax for registering a new car (.0075 = $150 for a $20k car)
• Hotel/motel room tax (5%)
• Rental car tax (2%)
• Dedicates 20 cents on $100 value on state records tax
• The language of the bill says ‘includes’ these taxes. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know if that prevents other taxes, because it says cities and counties may levy additional fees.
• $25 m of Hampton Roads’ sales and income tax in the General Fund goes back to this authority every year. This bill does not inflict a new sales tax like the’06 Quayle bill did.
• When the Chesapeake-Bay Bridge bonds are paid (09), it becomes a cash cow for this government.

HB 5072 has the same projects as the failed ’02 plan. Interesting because that plan’s own analysis said there would be MORE congested miles of roads in 20 years after the plan is built out than in ’02. (Message again – you will have more miles of congested road in 2026 than in 2006 after you build the plan).

HB5072 doesn’t add tubes to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. It takes trucks from the Port of Virginia and dumps them on I-64 about 12 miles up from the HRBT. (I believe the rail connection is from the Peninsula too, not Southside to the Port – not sure and the bill doesn’t say.)

Both plans pay the politicians and bureaucrats for serving plus per diem for going to work where they live.

Both plans have this terrifying paragraph, “To the extent funds are made available to the Authority to do so, to employ employees, agents, and advisors, and consultants, including without limitation, attorneys, financial advisers, engineers, and other technical advisors and, the provisions of any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, to determine their duties and compensations.”

Both plans lack an accountable authority for review of policy, plans and the jobs for friends of ‘pols’ paragraph above.

HB5091 puts all the crossings under one administrative and political authority. Reminds me of NYC’s inter-state Port Authority. That will provide a lot of revenue. The bill doesn’t go beyond that – on what to build and maintain with that money – but it includes the authority to do so and “construct or acquire, by purchase, lease, contract or otherwise,highways, bridges, tunnels, railroads, railroad facilities, and other transportation-related facilities.” It’s not clear if this would include building up the 460 corridor or widening I-64 up in The Peninsula.

Two very different plans.

Putting all the crossings under one authority for revenue – like the Bay-Bridge is now – is fine with me. Giving that authority the planning power to build projects worries me.

I don’t get why another layer of government is needed for either. The Governor and the GA have all the authority they need to set a priority of projects, fund and manage them.

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5 responses to “Two Plans for Hampton Roads Transportation”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    The bills that Mr. Bowden mentioned plus others that have been prefiled gives citizens a glimpse of the “New” look in transportation for the Commonwealth. The promised “reform”, it turns out, has devolved where decisions of which roads to build/improve are made by the Delegates and Senators so we can be just like the U.S. Congress. Oh, joy. As has been said all along – the devil is in the details.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I dunno.

    I see their involvement but I also see Regional Authorities with local jurisdiction representation…

    It sounds like what the legislators want is a framework for creating additonal funding mechanisms at the regional level AND ironclad rules to virtually guarantee that those new revenues will STAY in the region and not go to Richmond/VDOT – where, in the past, strange and magical (unpredictable) things would emerge.. usually in the form of IOUs… well into the future.

    I think legislators are saying .. allocation of tax dollars will be determined by the locality (with their elected legislators “help”… not VDOT.

    Given such a choice.. local “control” is a lesser evil.. ? 🙂

  3. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Larry Gross: It is definitely about keeping the money in the Region.

    Local control is a greater evil when it gives too much money, power and no accountablity to local politicians.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    A greater evil than a VDOT guy in Richmond… unelected and as we all now, very unaccountable… determining the fate of a locality that he/she doesn’t live in?

    What’s the middle ground here?

  5. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Middle ground if is high ground is good. Middle ground if it is in the road is where you find road kill.

    VDOT would be valued for their engineering and management. VDOT is NOT determining what is built, but how to build it properly.

    The decision on what to do goes to the GA and the Gov. Works for me. Just takes leadership.

    I trust VDOT with their accountability to award the contracts better than an authority of city councilmen from Hampton Roads.

    Obviously, you don’t know our elected councils in some cities. The clowns in Hampton just settled a $5m lawsuit for improperly firing the city manager. Sheer genius.

    You don’t need another level of government to hand out the contracts when you already have agencies that do that.

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