Transportation in Virginia

If you live in or use the roads of Virginia and you’re not paying attention to the potential remedies, or lack thereof, you need to be.

To get you started:

Bacon’s Rebellion (and here)
Raising Kaine
Charlottesville Tomorrow (and here)

What would our area look like if the localities had to pay for subdivision roads? Who will bear the brunt? (Property owners!) Why no more interest in a broad-based or use tax such as a gas tax or tolls? Those who are our elected representatives need to do what they have volunteered to do – represent the best interests of their constituents. That 2007 is an election year and many will be pandering for re-elections is a shame.

Why not light rail or some other form of transit? Why is it always about roads? We have a responsibility to look to the future. Otherwise, we will look back twenty or thirty years from now and curse our predecessors (and ourselves) for our irresponsibility and lack of vision.

A few bills regarding impact fees – Rep. Marshall has been busy –

HB1666, HB1667, HB1669, HB1670, HB1671, HB1724 , HB1745, HJ588 (Constitutional Amendment)

Update: Rule #1 – Listen to your readers.

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  1. TrvlnMn December 29, 2006 at 17:40

    My thoughts:

    I think this post deserves time in the main part of your blog as opposed to just the sideblog.

    With regards to the proposals I have to wonder- are they a bad things?

    I saw Rooker in a brief news spot on NBC29. He was speaking against proposals that transfer responsibility for roads to the localities- but allow localities to charge developers “impact fees.” He and that news article seemed to up-play the tax increase angle and downplay the impact fees.

    Granted I need to do some more reading on this topic but it seems to me that the BoS has, often enough, passed the blame onto the state when it comes to not making needed road improvements resulting from increased development.

    Looking at how badly Albemarle has done in infrastructure (road) planning and requiring enough funds through proffers to pay for things like that- one would think that greater self determination with roads and being able to charge “impact fees” to developers would be a good thing.

    The developers of Glenmore and Rivanna Village could be held responsible in part for the widening of 250 past Shadwell which is needed because of those developments.

    Of course there’s the rub also. Putting the responsibility back onto localities would mean the BoS finally wouldn’t be able to “pass the buck” and would have to make decisions. Those decisions would probably reveal that they are more “pro-developer” than they would have people believe.

    As for the tax increases- what’s a few more bucks? I remember reading somewhere else (here perhaps?) that the area already faces road construction needs that they cannot pay for because they failed to get the required sufficient proffers from developers? The money has to come from somewhere.

    And I guess my only other question would be – if these proposals aren’t “the right way to go” then what is?

    Okay, that’s it. I’m done pontificating. 🙂

  2. Jim Duncan December 30, 2006 at 10:20

    One thing that irks me is this – from the NBC29 Story

    If the county is forced to pay for all the roads for all the cars in the development, homeowners in other developments across Albemarle County will have to help pay the bill. That aid could mean higher property taxes so the county can then get the job done. (bolding mine)

    Why is the assumption that homeowners will be responsible for the funding? Are they (we) the only ones who use roads in the State? Continuing to look solely at property taxes as the new revenue source is myopic, short-sighted and irresponsible.

    We need to pay for transportation. That “we” includes renters as well. Again, why not a gas tax with the proceeds dedicated to a “lockbox” whereby those funds would go solely to transportation? Or allow for regional taxing authorities to levy their own taxes?

    How about a “transient tax“? 🙂

    Any new tax dedicated solely to taxing homeowners should be met with fierce resistance by homeowners and their respective PACs. It’s time to think a bit more creatively.

  3. Jim Duncan December 30, 2006 at 10:25

    My opposition to the “what’s a few more bucks” argument is simple – I don’t trust politicians with my money. If I believed that they would spend my tax dollars as it was intended, then my oppositions would weaken.

    Impact fees may be a part of an answer (not “the” answer) but – who would set them? I am personally against the State levying this tax, as they just are not responsible and are not tapped into our region’s needs

  4. TrvlnMn December 30, 2006 at 20:30

    I like the idea of a transient tax (Hotel rooms, head tax on people arriving via plane..etc).

    And I think you’re right it is myopic to keep falling back on property taxes. And Myopic is part of the County of Albemarle’s problem.

    As to who should determine what the impact fees should be… well I’d hire a State Farm Actuary to crunch the numbers. They could do the same thing they do with insurance statistics with the infrastructure numbers and come up with a fair price.

    As for the “What’s a few more dollars?” That didn’t come out the way I intended it to sound. I was think that since the county is already so far behind/in the hole (that they’re considering a bond measure to pay for what they were afraid to get from developers via proffers) that any added cost is almost moot.

    As for the gas tax idea. My experience in other areas is that the “lockbox” gets raided quite frequently. Plus I really don’t want to pay more for gas than I already am.

  5. jmcnamera December 31, 2006 at 00:31

    Jim, you mention that renters should also help pay. Actually, they do since the property taxes are paid by the landlords who get their funds from the renters. Renters do pay their share – just not directly.

  6. Jim Duncan December 31, 2006 at 09:26

    Re: renters – I am sorry, I wasn’t clear (I was in my head) – I think that a tax should be felt and not just by a part of the community – that is why I advocate for a broad-based tax rather than the same “solution” that has been depended upon so far.

  7. UVA08 December 31, 2006 at 11:13

    My question is if we transfer the costs of road contruction on future development how does that solve our CURRENT problem? If all development across the area stopped today we would still have back ups on 250, Rio East would still be a stop and go mess after 5, Route 29 would still be the only major North-South corridor in the area with too much congestion, we would still need an additional turning lane onto the by-pass, and so much more. Over the past decade our population has grown by tens of thousands yet no major road project has been undertaken. Virginia has some of the lowest taxes in the nation which is a good thing but at the same time you get what you pay for. We need more money for the problems we have now. The proposal seems practical for future development but does nothing about the problems we have now.

  8. Jim Duncan January 1, 2007 at 16:06

    Nothing I have seen yet addresses the current issues we face. The Meadowcreek Parkway is indicative of this. Local politicians have been delaying this for thirty years – study after study shows that our region desperately needs infrastructure help, but nothing is done.

    Frankly, I am at a loss as to what we need to do about the current issues. But I’m working on solutions …