Photo by VaDOT on Flickr.

Tonight, the Virginia Assembly’s transportation subcommittee will discuss some bad bills. If you live in Virginia, please email the members of the subcommittee to ask them to oppose HB1998, 1999 and 2016.

This is especially important if you live in Herndon and Sterling (Tom Rust’s district), or western Loudoun or Clarke Counties (Joe May’s district), but it’s helpful to email them regardless.

HB1998 would basically take all road planning away from regional bodies and give it to the state. In addition, state officials would be required to exclusively plan based on traditional traffic models with the goal of reducing “congestion.”

In other words, VDOT would plan using exactly the flawed methodology that the TTI report uses. If one project increases speeds more but would primarily generate sprawl in one area of the state, while another improves access to a denser center that would enable more economic growth and less auto dependence, VDOT would have to go with the former, and regional planners would have no say.

HB1999 modifies the enabling legislation for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (in the italicized paragraph) to make the same congestion goals a priority and also give priority to “evacuation route” projects. Since evacuating a metropolitan area quickly by car is simply infeasible regardless of how many roads get built, talking about evacuation routes is always just another canard that is used to push for a 1960s freeway vision.

Outer Beltway booster Bob Chase is reportedly behind both bills. Last year, he pushed other bills to also require studying or building these projects which will spur a rapid acceleration of sprawl in Northern Virginia, though smart growth advocates and more sensible legislators managed to block them.

HB2016 comes from Governor McDonnell, and would consolidate the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which manages Virginia’s involvement in Metro; the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which manages the commuter buses and local buses around Prince William and Stafford Counties, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. This would reduce local control of all these transportation decisions, giving Arlington more power over PRTC commuter buses, Prince William more control over Metro, and the governor more control over everything.

The committee will start meeting at 5:00. If you can email the members before then, it will help persuade them to oppose these bills.

  • Delegate Thomas Davis Rust - DelTRust@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate G. Glenn Oder - DelGOder@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate Edward Scott - DelEScott@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate David Toscano - DelDToscano@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn - DelEFiller-Corn@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate Joe May - DelJMay@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate James LeMunyon - DelJLeMunyon@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate Robert Marshall - DelBMarshall@house.virginia.gov
  • Delegate Thomas Greason - DelTGreason@house.virginia.gov

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.