Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fairfax's Transportation Funding Crisis--and a New Toll Road???

There have been a large number of news articles in the last couple of weeks pointing the crisis in state and local transportation funding, especially here in Fairfax County.  Most of these articles have keyed off two events:
  • Three weeks ago, the leaders of Virginia's "urban crescent" counties (basically the counties along I-95 & I-64 from Arlington to Hampton Roads) sent a letter to our state leaders noting the state-wide funding crisis.   The essence of their letter was that state secondary and urban system construction funds have been eliminated and that, by 2017, no state funds will be available for highway construction.   In the meantime, the state’s existing highways and byways fail to meet the state’s standards of maintenance and the state hasn’t budgeted to meet those standards.   And transit funding from the Commonwealth is far short of what is needed.   As if to put an exclamation point on the situation, Virginia was downgraded from #1 to #3 most “business friendly” state primarily because of the decaying and congested state of its transportation infrastructure. 
  • Within the last week, Fairfax County has announced a "Countywide Dialogue on Transportation", including a series of public meetings to present the issues and opportunities to citizens, a long list of tax alternatives to fund the $3 billion shortfall in County funds for transportation over the next decade, and an opportunity for citizens to take a survey to state their views on what is important.  A few comments:
    • I encourage all of you to attend one of the public meetings the FC Department of Transportation is hosting.  We all need to understand the scope and depth of this important problem for our county and community.  There will be one in Reston at the North County Government Center on October 3 at 7PM.  If you can't make that one, check the schedule for other dates and locations that are convenient for you.   
    • The county's transportation needs survey of residents essentially requires that you read the materials provided on the county website or attend one of the public meetings if you are to make an informed response.   
    • A series of funding options--new or added taxes--that range from the absurd to the reasonable.   One that caught this reader's eye was a state law--HBOB 3202 passed in 2007--that permits no fewer than seven new/added taxes for funding transportation needs.  Yet, as the pitchman in those "as seen on TV" says, "But wait, there's more!"  Check it out; some make sense, some don't.
I'm only going to address one funding proposal:  Turning the Fairfax County Parkway into a toll road.  Simply put, Restonians would be taxed no matter what direction they head to leave Reston:  East and West on the Dulles Toll Road and North and South on the Fairfax County Parkway Toll Road.  So in addition to the diversion of traffic from the Dulles Toll Road due to huge toll hikes, Restonians and those coming to Reston would divert from the Fairfax County Parkway Toll Road to, yes, Reston Parkway.  Having just seen a presentation by FCDOT that forecast four minute delays (actually, 241 seconds at Sunrise Valley Drive at the "peak of the peak" period) on Reston Parkway in 2030 due to local development alone--no consideration of tolling the Parkway, I don't even want to think about what tolls on the Fairfax County Parkway Toll Road will add to local congestion, pollution, and diminished quality of life.   (I won't even go into the absurdity of their calculation for the average household.)

It's your community.  Make your voices heard.  October 3 at the North County Government Center is a good place to start.  

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