The Waste in Maintenance

In my most recent column, distributed at noon today, I outlined the advantages of outsourcing road and highway maintenance, a strategy that could conceivably generate efficiencies of $200 million a year — money that could go to new construction and offset some of the proposed tax increases being considered by the General Assembly. As I have argued ad nauseum on this blog, there is no silver bullet for Virginia’s congestion “crisis,” and wringing efficiencies from VDOT operations is only one of many needed reforms. But it sure beats raising taxes.

As I get reader response from the Bacon’s Rebellion e-zine, I will post it here on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog.

(As an aside, for a high-altitude overview of why I’m opposed to raising taxes for transportation right now, click here. This cites a number of columns I’ve penned and articles that Bob Burke has written for the Road to Ruin project. For an even more comprehensive treatment that emphasizes the need to reform Virginia’s dysfunctional human settlement patterns, there’s no substitute for perusing Ed Risse’s back columns.)

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One response to “The Waste in Maintenance”

  1. Jim Bacon Avatar

    I enjoyed reading your article on outsourcing most if not all of VDOT’s maintenance functions. It gave me the idea that we should go even further by privatizing much of VDOT. I think it would be an interesting experiment to try incorporating most of VDOT’s maintenance and construction functions and selling a 75% or higher stake to the public or a private firm. Such conversions are gospel with development economists when guiding developing countries into the modern global economy, and it’s worked in a similar fashion for the federal government with the post office. If it worked, and VDOT really is the best state transportation agency in the country, it could compete nationwide for maintenance and construction contracts that would return money to the state’s coffers that would provide a continuous revenue stream on top of the influx of cash from the initial sale. Coupled with a competitive bidding process for contracts within Virginia it could greatly increase the effectiveness of our transportation money, and we might not even have to raise taxes.

    I realize that it’s a far out proposal, especially coming from a democrat, but it’s an idea that I thought you might enjoy hearing. Thanks for running such an informative site!

    Ben McGinnis

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