Coalition for Smarter Growth, Piedmont Environmental Council,
Southern Environmental Law Center, Virginia League of Conservation Voters
For Immediate Release: December 4, 2012
Stewart Schwartz, CSG, 703-599-6437 (cell)
Chris Miller, PEC, 540-347-2334
Trip Pollard, SELC, 804-318-7484
Lisa Guthrie, VLCV, 804-225-1902
Virginia Transportation Program is Off-Track as Virginia Governor’s Transportation Conference Convenes This Week in Tysons
Conference is Unlikely to Address the Big Questions About
VDOT Spending and Decision-making
The Virginia “Governor’s Transportation Conference” convenes in Tysons tomorrow, December 5th.
“We don’t expect this conference to address the very real problems with this administration’s transportation program. If you speak with a number of local officials around the state, you will find plenty of evidence that Governor McDonnell and Secretary of Transportation Connaughton have run roughshod over local governments and regional planning organizations, ignored local concerns, failed to evaluate alternatives, and wasted money on projects of questionable utility,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
“We believe that the state is squandering much of the $3 billion in recently-borrowed funds on projects that cannot possibly be seen as priorities given the many other more important transportation needs in the Commonwealth,” said Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council. “Route 460, the Coalfields Expressway, the Charlottesville Bypass and the northern Virginia Outer Beltway would collectively waste billions of dollars.”
“All too often, the McDonnell Administration has failed to evaluate alternatives to new highway construction adequately, to compare the effectiveness and economic return on costly and destructive new projects to improving existing roads, rail, and transit,” said Trip Pollard, director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Land and Community Program. “In addition, the Public-Private Transportation Act has been stretched far beyond its original purpose, and has led to agreements to billions of taxpayer dollars and decades of high tolls with little input from the General Assembly, localities, or the public, as we demonstrate in the report we released last week on the PPTA.
“We urgently need a review of VDOT spending and prioritization,” said Lisa Guthrie, Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “In not retaining legislative oversight of the allocation of $3 billion in borrowed funds, $1.5 billion of which went into the PPTA fund controlled by the Secretary, the General Assembly gave a blank check to the agency.”
Before providing additional revenues to VDOT, the Assembly should evaluate the spending allocations made since last year’s session, should adequately fund maintenance and energy-efficient transportation alternatives to driving, and should tie funding to key reforms in the PPTA and overall transportation planning in order to protect taxpayers. Top among the reforms should be strong legislative oversight, an active and fair partnership with local and regional leaders, and objective evaluation of alternative solutions and investments.