A New Hampton Roads Transportation Authority

13 10 2009

The HRTA was created as an effort by the General Assembly to give Hampton Roads what it so desperately needs: a dedicated funding source for major highway construction. However woefully inadequate this funding was, it was a start. Using the latest cost estimates (and including the HRBT), there are an estimated $14.6 billion worth of “high priority” road projects in Hampton Roads. The HRTA would have raised an estimated $170 million per year. It stand to reason then, that without outside help, the total amounts would not be covered until the year 2095. By then, of course, we will have reverted back to farms and bartering because of a lack of connectivity.So we have tow problems. First, how can it collect money and second, how can it collect more money.

The reason the initiative failed was due to the lack of research by the GA. They should have known that a non-elected body could not tax. There are two possible solutions to breath life back into the HRTA. The first is that the GA could impose the fees and taxes and then earmark them to be devoted to the HRTA. The GA, however, being made up mostly of those that lack the testicular fortitude of a flea, refuse to take leadership of anything above cashing their paychecks. The second and slightly more plausible solution would be to create an HRTA board that we actually got to elect. If each city’s residents got to elect the representative to serve on the board, then theoretically, it would be constitutionally acceptable for it to levy taxes. The problem with this, however, is that the board might deteriorate into a bunch of whiny kids wanting to get the most for their city. I think a practical solution would involve making sure that the mission plan of the board is written clearly enough to make it impossible for them force one issue over another. They would also need both an end strategy and a process to get other projects added to the end of the list.

The second issue is how would they collect more money. I will save that for the next post.

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