Computer Model Assists Prioritizing

19 11 2009

According to today’s (11/19/09) front page Virginian-Pilot article, VDOT spent $150,000 on a consultant to help prioritize our transportation projects. The first round of rankings (43 projects) seem very similar to most peoples’ current opinions. There are a few interesting projects, however. Number 5 under highway projects, for example, is a reconstruction project for the I-64 interchange at Norview Ave. I know from experience that it is a terrible (and incomplete) interchange and sometimes it might just be safer to drive over the edge of the overpass. Despite this well-known fact, I am not quite sure that I would put it on a top-ten list of projects. In fact, I think that most around here would agree that widening US 460 (#9) would be of more importance and benefit than a new Norview interchange.

Also part of this model were transit projects. The model ranked the need for a Light Rail line to the Naval Base higher than a line to Virginia Beach. Personally, I think they go hand-in-hand. There are a lot of people in Virginia Beach that would take LRT to the base. I think that if we can build a line to the Beach sooner rather than later, we all win. If we were to lose in Virginia Beach, however, and instead built a line to the Base, I think that Virginia Beach would once again reconsider, realizing that they are making the worst mistake in their history as a city.

Their next step is to feed the model a list of 200 Hampton Roads projects. I didn’t realize we had 200 projects, but apparently we do. Hopefully this model will help our transportation leaders figure out what they want and help us get the road funds we need to actually get something built.


Money for Highways

27 10 2009

Everyone agrees that most of Hampton Roads’ most congested roadways are part of the Interstate System. These include Interstate 64’s HRBT and Interstate 264’s Downtown Tunnel. This also includes the need for the Third Crossing, which, for the most part, would take the name of Interstate 564. This also includes the Berkley Bridge and the High Rise Bridge. (On a side note, Virginia has more Interstate Highway Drawbridges than any other state. Hampton Roads alone has 25% of all Interstate Highway Drawbridge)

Most would also agree that the region’s highways are also important to the local military facilities including Camp Peary, Yorktown Weapons Station, Fort Eustis, Langley AFB, Norfolk NAS, Little Creek Amphib Base, Fort Story, Oceana NAS, and Dam Neck. I’m sure I missed something, but regardless, everyone has seen how much traffic is lessened by a holiday where the Navy does not have to report. Completely ignoring the toll that military traffic takes on our highways, my point is that if something happened to some aspect of our system, the Navy would be crippled. I’m not talking about an attack or something like that, I’m talking about a severe traffic accident. Or perhaps a hurricane. I know that during a hurricane evacuation all lanes of traffic are directed away from the area. How are the military supposed to get to the base to take the ships out of harbor?

Do you see my point? I think that the continuing neglect of our highways has even greater national security complications than any other threat you can think of. What good is a top-notch Defense Department if they can’t get to their bases? The “National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956)” renamed the highway system to the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” Eisenhower even announced it as the “National Defense Highway System.” In fact the “National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956)” specifically states that the System’s “primary importance [is] to the national defense.” With all this in mind, I think that it is fair to say that, with such a National Security importance, Hampton Roads has been cheated out of the funds necessary to maintain the acceptable level of service that is required to maintain a quality Highway.

The Navy was opposed to a bridge being used as part of an expanded HRBT because they were afraid it might be destroyed in an act of terrorism and would leave all the ships stuck in the harbor. What good is a clear exit if the personnel required to operate the ships are stuck in traffic? Not only as Hampton Roads or Virginia residents, but as United States citizens, we should require Congress to bring our National Security up to par by fixing our highways. China, which is technically a ‘developing country,’ is using American highway and traffic engineers to design a world-class highway system. Meanwhile, America is utilizing Chinese … cheap crap, drywall, and substandard steel to effectively undo our position as a world power.