There could still be some major developments on the transportation front, especially in Northern Virginia.
The mood in Richmond is likely to be more antagonistic than ever as Virginia's legislative session gets underway. So 2012 might not be the year the Commonwealth's long-running transportation funding problem gets solved. But there could still be some major developments on the transportation front, especially in Northern Virginia. Jonathan Wilson talks with Rebecca Sheir about HOT lanes, the Mark Center and something call "devolution." Following are highlights of their conversations.
Wilson on devolution in Virginia: "Start with a word many residents have never heard before...unless you're a transportation or legislative wonk: devolution. You know that Virginia's Department of Transportation maintains most local roads. Many people are unsatisfied with VDOT's performance and VDOT is underfunded. Solution? Make the counties handle road maintenance. Not the first time we've talked about this, but GMU did a recent study, and discussion is getting more serious."
On local leaders' opinions of devolution: "Even though some local leaders agree that counties could do a better job than VDOT, they're not going to get behind the idea without more funding from Richmond. In fact, bring up devolution, and Republicans and Democrats in Northern Virginia are on the same side."
On the governor using more sales tax money on transportation: "It's still unclear. The state Senate is going to be deadlocked 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On the surface, that might make it seem impossible to reach compromise, but not every decision will be partisan. Some transportation issues are regional and not controversial, and that means the 20-20 split, and a possible tiebreaking vote from Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will be out of play. And even for some contentious issues, there are fuzzy restrictions on when the Lieutenant Governor is allowed to vote."
On what Northern Virginia residents can anticipate in the coming year: "HOT lanes, HOT lanes, HOT lanes, and a lot of skepticism about whether HOT lanes will actually make traffic better. We'll also have to keep a close eye on traffic around the Mark Center and out near Fort Belvoir, two areas that are seeing major increases in personnel, thanks to the Army's BRAC program."
Listen to the full conversation here.
[Music: "A to B" by The Futureheads from The Futureheads / "No Particular Place To Go" by The Troggs from 100 Best Driving Rock]