What is “It” for Transportation?

Today, Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher offers his observations from Governor-elect Kaine’s Manassas transportation meeting:

Virginia’s next governor, Tim Kaine, aims to break open the transportation logjam. In a state that foolishly limits governors to a single term, four years as a lame duck governor isn’t enough to take on such a massive task. But Kaine, flush with the sweet adrenaline of victory and eager to build on Gov. Mark Warner’s success in putting the state’s finances in order, boldly proposes to get it done in his first year.

But what is “it?” As I watched Kaine conduct a town meeting on transportation in Manassas on Tuesday night, that basic question kept pushing aside questions about process. Even if you could get beyond the core dilemma over money — do you raise taxes to build transit and roads, or do you insist, as Northern Virginia voters did in the 2002 transportation referendum, on doing everything with existing resources? — you’d still lack agreement on what it means to fix traffic.

Fisher suggests that Kaine might just use “political will” to force controversial projects into reality, as Maryland Governor Erlich has done with the Inter-County Connector.

As an interesting aside, Fisher thinks Kaine will eschew the caution Governor Warner always exhibited and be more willing to speak out. Fisher will be online today taking questions and comments on this column.

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2 responses to “What is “It” for Transportation?”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar

    Kaine opened the meeting with a speech that centered on choice, with some reference to linking transportation and land use.

    When it came time for audience participation, every speaker seemed to represent some special interest group. In fact when one speaker introduced himself as a private citizen, he got a round of applause.

    Each speaker seemd to have a single agenda and a silver bullet.
    Each said something like the following.

    The one thing we need to do is:(pick one)
    Get these cars off the road
    Have more trains
    Build more roads
    Stop construction
    Use Rideshareing
    Fix traffic signals
    Promote Walking
    Build Bike trails
    Have a better, more equitable proffer system

    At the end of this, I concluded that Kaine is right: we need a choice of all of the above, each according to where it makes some semblance of sense, and each according to what it might contribute.

    As Jim would say, Show me the money.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Ray, it’s nice that we agree occasionally. Correctamundo: There is no “silver bullet.” Rather, there is a wide range of strategies, each of which addresses a part of the problem. The thing we must remember is that some strategies offer more congestion-mitigation bang for the buck than others.

    I think you and I would even agree, in the abstract, that it’s desirable to pursue those alternatives that offer the most bang for the buck. The difficulty is coming up with a methodology that allows us to do that.

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