Opinion: Coalition For Smarter Growth
"We aren't surprised that the Governor and Secretary Connaughton are writing off Alexandria and Arlington, but failing to invest in Fairfax County and even the top priority needs of Loudoun County commuters doesn't make sense in terms of transportation or politics," said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
"Governor McDonnell and Secretary Connaughton latest push on the draft budget demonstrates a failure to support the needs of the two economic engines of the state," said Schwartz. The draft budget deal fails to invest $300 million in Dulles Rail or additional money into the Midtown and Downtown tunnels.
For highway projects, federal and state funds cover 100% of the cost of the project. For Dulles Rail Phase 2, northern Virginia tax payers and toll payers are being saddled with 100% of the cost.
"The Governor and Secretary are unfairly saddling Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads tax payers and toll payers with the costs for Dulles Rail Phase 2 and the Hampton Roads tunnels. The state should be investing more money into both of these projects," said Schwartz.
"Instead they are diverting billions of dollars into rural highways that don't help the vast majority of commuters stuck in traffic in the metropolitan regions of the state." The state is proposing to spend at least $750 million on rural Route 460, which is not a priority of Hampton Roads officials. They are diverting $200 million, with a total of $400 million at risk, for the Albemarle bypass that is highly controversial and deemed ineffective. Millions more are going to the Coalfields Expressway in far southwest Virginia.
"We suspect that the McDonnell administration also wants to push the Northern Virginia Outer Beltway instead of supporting Dulles Rail. They want to divert hundreds of millions to the Outer Beltway, instead of addressing the urgent needs of Northern Virginia commuters," said Schwartz. "We can't afford to divert funds to rural bypasses when we need every dollar for major commuter corridors including the Dulles Rail corridor and I-66."