VDOT’s Budget Cut Again

6 12 2009

Once again, the state is once again cutting money off of VDOT’s budget. This time, however, there is nothing left but bones. In fact, as early as 2011, Hampton Roads will get zero (you read that right) dollars for road construction. Statewide that same year, Northern Virginia would receive $225 million (93.2%) from VDOT. Even sooner, in 2010, the overall budget will grow 3% despite Hampton Roads’ funding getting cut another 13% for that same year! In 2010, Northern Virginia’s budget actually increases by 5%. Our luck would not change until 2015, when we get a whopping $100 million. Of course, seeing as 2015 is six years from now in the six year budget, our actual chances of seeing anything are very slim. When are we, as Hampton Roads residents going to stand up for ourselves? When will we decide that allowing Northern Virginia rob us blind is no longer acceptable? You know when? When we decide that we are a single, unified voice. Northern Virginia can say that, as suburbs of DC, they all need the same general projects to get by. Hampton Roads, on the other hand, can do nothing of the sort. Norfolk wants money for the Midtown Tunnel. Virginia Beach wants money for the Southeastern ‘Parked’way (which is what it really will be when it is full of traffic). Chesapeake wants a new Dominion Blvd. Portsmouth wants the MLK extended. Hampton wants the HRBT redone. Newport News wants I-64 expanded north. None of the cities here realize that we all need the same things to function. Without one of our major connectors, the whole place is gridlocked. Look at any interstate when one gets all lanes blocked during rush hour. The whole area shuts down. We can’t court new business if we don’t have a reliable road system. We need to work together as one region to secure our road money. We need to tell our legislature that Northern Virginia has robbed us enough and we demand our fair share. People here complain when a city spends tax money on something light Town Center, light rail, Downtown, etc., but they seem to have no problem paying taxes to a state that is ripping us off. Its not VDOTs fault. It is completely the legislature’s fault. We cannot allow current elected state representatives to serve another term. They have not fixed our problem yet and they will never fix it. Short of seceding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, regionalism and voting out our incumbents is our only option.


“Parkway’s Prospects Dim”

26 10 2009

That was the headline in Sunday’s ‘Hampton Roads’ section of the Virginian-Pilot. It is also a headline that I have hoped to see for a long time. I think that even the leaders of Virginia Beach are starting to admit that the project is not exactly a viable option now or in the future. The road would destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands in multiple fragile watersheds so that area residents have the possibility of shaving 7 minutes off of their commute. That’s $385 million per minute saved. Is it really worth it? If the residents are that concerned about the need for a highway, they would have purchased a home closer to an existing highway. There was a resident quoted in the article as saying, “I don’t think it will ever get built.” Thank you EPA. Thank you for sparing the taxpayers the cost of this incredibly overpriced parking lot.

Why Fight Light Rail?

10 10 2009

I ask again, why fight light rail? Especially if you are part of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers’ Alliance. For a group that doesn’t want to pay more taxes, they sure are fighting strong against something that would potentially bring increased revenue without increased taxes. In fact, Virginia Beach is already benefiting from light rail. If you hadn’t heard, they are planning a high density development on their side of Newtown Road and plan on promoting its position near the light rail.

Norfolk is only spending less than $100 million on the Tide. That is one of the lowest amounts in the country for a new light rail start up. Virginia Beach could have been in on it, but people like the VBTA fought the deal. Light Rail is coming to Virginia Beach. The questions are only when and how much will the VBTA cost the taxpayers in inflation? Since construction began, Norfolk has see construction begin on the Fort Norfolk development, the Belmont at Freemason, Wachovia Center, and the Residence Inn. Not bad for a recession. In contrast, how many are planned for Town Center? I couldn’t find but maybe one. They have another phase that’s supposed to start soon. It will likely take a large infusion of taxpayer dollars, which may not exist with their new found budget shortfall. Good luck with that.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. As energy prices rise, people are going to be looking to move closer to their jobs. The suburban model of growth (i.e. VA Beach) cannot continue to pay for 12 lane highways and hour long daily commutes. The VBTA continually asserts that Light Rail is a waste of money that cannot pay for itself. What is the alternative? The Southeastern Parkway? A highway that costs more per mile than Light Rail and shaves less than a minute off your commute? When Light Rail gets old, you but a new car for $7 million. Virginia Beach is set to spend $45 million this fiscal year just for widening and maintaining its current roadways. How is that more fiscally responsible? Would it not stand to reason that expanding mass transit and decreasing the reliance on personal vehicles would save the city $ million per year?

Despite their outward appearance, the VBTA is not against wasteful city spending, but rather against progress in general, unless of course it directly benefits their members. Their website gives no membership numbers, but I would venture to guess that they have nowhere near the numbers to support their name. They are not representative of the taxpayers of Virginia Beach. Their website has not been updated in nearly 2 years. They have no mission statement. Their last posted issue is from June of 2007.

If you live in Virginia Beach and somebody comes up to you asking to sign a petition to support a referendum, tell them, “No. I elected my representatives to be leaders. I support progress and responsible growth. I support Light Rail.”