Nothing frustrates all of us in Northern Virginia more on a daily basis than our transportation mess. Delays in transportation improvements are costing each of us time, quality of life, and money. The Washington Board of Trade documented that congestion already costs the average family over $3000 a year.
Over the years I have been a patron on every significant piece of legislation dealing with transportation. But the real problem is not laws. The real problem is money. We must find a sustainable transportation funding stream of at least $1 billion a year that does not take money from other priorities such as education, healthcare, and public safety.
Some of my accomplishments for traffic relief in the 32nd District include:
- My efforts earmarked funding for Phase I of the Silver Line.
- My efforts have allocated funds for Route 7 improvements.
- Sound walls will be installed the entire length of the Dulles Connector because of my budget amendment.
- My budget amendment provided funds for the improvements on Route 123 in Tysons Corner.
- My efforts led to Tysons Corner, Reston, and the Fairfax Parkway having traffic lights synchronized.
- Reston and Tysons have received numerous spot improvements because of citizen, VDOT and Fairfax.
- Now I am working for more sound walls along the Toll Road.
- County collaboration that resulted from my legislative resolutions.
The most important project in our region is building Metrorail to Dulles. I have always supported rail because of its benefits to commuters and local businesses. Phase I is progressing on time and on budget. Now the challenge is to secure funding for Phase II.
Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road must be kept low. And I am working to do just that. My proposal for funding Phase II includes the following:
- Reduce the cost of the project. At one point recently, the cost was estimated at $3.8 billion. That estimate has been reduced to $3 billion and is likely to be reduced further to about $2.8 billion.
- Additional state funding. Governor McDonnell should commit state dollars commensurate to the $895 million he has pledged to buy down tolls on two projects in Tidewater. Our commuters deserve no less.
- Additional federal participation. We need approval of federal TIFIA bonds for Phase II. Governor McDonnell should request these loans for all of Phase II. This would provide flexibility on terms of the bonding. The federal commitment of actual dollars for Phase II is nonexistent. That is unacceptable.
- The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority should approve tolling the Dulles Access Road. As a matter of simple equity, this is essential.
- MWAA should work for additional airline passenger facility charges.
Do not be deceived by those who are claiming exorbitant tolls! The only validated estimate that has been done was an investment-grade study in 2009. It projected tolls out to 2043. In 2043 the tolls were expected to be $7 at the main plaza (present value equivalent of $2.56) and $4.25 at the ramps (present value equivalent of $1.56). This is the only study that has the support of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board and staff. An updated investment-grade study is due before the end of the year and will be based on current cost estimates for Phase II.
Much more needs to be done to resolve our transportation problems. We urgently need to secure sustainable funding of at least one billion dollars a year for transportation needs. We do not have funding even for maintenance of our current roads. Northern Virginia has over $1 billion in deferred maintenance. Statewide, we need $3.8 billion to bring our bridges up to standard. Every year we wait, the hole gets deeper.
Here are my Top Ten Priorities for the state to Unlock Gridlock:
- Secure sustainable new funding of at least one billion dollars a year without taking resources from other core responsibilities.
- Align transportation and land use planning with an emphasis on “smart growth.”
- Provide state funding to Phase II of the Silver Line.
- Protect the Transportation Trust Fund with a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of funds for other purposes.
- Take additional funds “off the top” of the Transportation Trust Fund to support public transit and rail.
- Change the allocation formula to emphasize congestion factors.
- Promote public/private partnerships.
- Use new technologies to increase existing road capacities.
- Continue reforming VDOT and implementing best management practices.
- Expand the use of Value Engineering to achieve greater savings.
We can improve our transportation network. I am committed to working full time to finding and implementing solutions. More remains to be done. I intend to follow up on the accomplishments above with more action to reduce your time in traffic.
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