Of course all of the candidates promise to fix transportation in Northern Virginia, but few have offered a comprehensive assessment of the problem or a complete set of solutions. In our view, VDOT isn't investing enough in Northern Virginia, and, when they do, they aren't setting the right investment priorities. This big picture problem hasn't been adequately debated during the election, so the Coalition for Smarter Growth drafted and released a transportation platform, some of which is outlined below. We hope that the winning candidates will adopt and pursue this platform in the coming months, lest we continue to waste tax dollars and sit in more traffic.
Northern Virginia Needs a Better Deal from the State
The state is borrowing $3 billion in state and federal funds on top of their normal annual spending for transportation. We'll be paying this back for years. So we should be setting smart priorities. Instead:
- VDOT proposes to pour $750 million of our tax dollars into subsidizing a private toll road (Route 460) through empty farmland south of the James River.
- VDOT has shifted $200 million to a bypass in Charlottesville that most people don't want and could cost over $400 million.
- VDOT will probably grant another toll road company hundreds of millions of dollars for converting our I-95 carpool lanes into High-Occupancy Toll lanes for 75 years.
- VDOT wants to build an Outer Beltway for speculative development — the first ten miles of which could cost $250 million to $475 million depending on the route — instead of focusing scarce resources on fixing existing commuter routes in Northern Virginia.
- VDOT is years behind on a comprehensive solution for I-66, which will have to involve a mix of carpool, bus, road, rail, and smarter land use to really make the corridor work.
- The state is paying nothing toward Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail project and only five percent of the total project costs, while Northern Virginians are paying about 75 percent of the total costs — through our local taxes and tolls. Compare this to the state and federal government paying 100 percent for highway projects.
- The state only pays about 28 percent of our Metrorail operating costs, but it pays 100 percent of road maintenance and operating costs. Northern Virginians pay about 72 percent of our share of Metrorail operating costs through our transit fares, an add-on gas tax, and our local property taxes.
- VDOT won't agree to fund Tysons Corner transportation needs, Reston Metro station access needs, or a single project in the Route 1 corridor.
We have solutions to these problems, which you can read on page two of our platform, currently on our website.
We hope the winning candidates address transportation comprehensively, supporting the smart growth land use and transit-focused solutions that we need. Don't forget to vote on November 8, and after the dust clears, join us to help advocate for smart transportation solutions!
–Laura DeSantis, Coalition for Smarter Growth