MPO Chairman, David Slutzky
(Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Rio District)
The Virginia General Assembly starts their special session on transportation today. While local projects like the Meadowcreek Parkway aren't on the mind of many lawmakers in Richmond, rapidly rising funding estimates for the cost of this road are getting increasing attention by our local officials. In Albemarle, funds previously set aside for Jarmans Gap Road and Georgetown Road may soon be diverted to the Parkway.
In advance of the special session, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads representatives have been trying to secure approval for local tax increases in an effort to fund their priority transportation projects. According to the Washington Post, those efforts failed in the House Finance Committee yesterday.
"...a decisive majority of lawmakers on the committee -- including six from Fairfax and Prince William counties -- voted against raising taxes to finance the plan, most of them saying the state can pay for roads through existing revenue or bond sales."
Other bills championed by House Speaker William Howell seeking to address the links between land use and transportation decisions were deferred to the 2007 session. The Richmond-Times Dispatch described this outcome as due, in part, to "the muscle of a homebuilding industry that has resisted caps on growth and new fees on construction to finance road improvements."
Similar funding strategies have been recommended by our local Transportation Funding Options Working Group, a task force with diverse representation that included the Chamber of Commerce, the local realtors' association, UVA, the Piedmont Environmental Council, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. Their October 2005 recommendations for ways to secure funding for over $100 million in priority projects may get a fresh look by local officials after the General Assembly completes this special session.
While there were not any bills* for this special session related to Charlottesville and Albemarle's transportation priorities, local officials have told our General Assembly delegation that the Meadowcreek Parkway needs their attention this week. The Parkway's funding challenges were most recently discussed at last week's monthly meeting of the the Policy Board of the Metropolitan Planning Organization [see agenda].
During the Policy Board's discussion [podcast below] of the first draft of their annual priority statement for presentation before the Commonwealth Transportation Board (public hearing on October 25, 2006 for the 2008-2013 VDOT Six-Year Improvement Program), Board members discussed the Meadowcreek Parkway, the Western 29 Bypass, and the Fontaine Avenue/Sunset Connector.
In the discussion, Dennis Rooker, Chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, shared updated figures on the funding deficit for the City and County portions of the Meadowcreek parkway. In the table below, you can see Mr. Rooker's estimates that indicate an additional $9.7 million is needed before the project can begin as scheduled in June 2008.
|Cost of Project||
|Balance to |
|Interchange at Rt. 250||$26,500,000||Federal commitment||n/a||--|
Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20060920-MPO.MP3
For more information on these and other local transportation projects, visit the Charlottesville Tomorrow Transportation Matrix.