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November 06, 2011

Albemarle Supervisor candidates on transportation

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In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, SEVENTH IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comWhat is your transportation agenda for the county? Does it require more money?  How will you fund AND implement it?


 

Rivanna District

Ken Boyd (R) – Incumbent

Multi-modal transportation is important to our community and the board has committed to providing opportunities when fiscally feasible—and that’s important—where fiscally feasible.  We participate in the city with mass transit routes, and we put bike lanes on all new and expanded roads, we promote Rideshare, we contribute heavily to JAUNT and we advocate for mixed-use neighborhood model [development] where citizens can work, live and shop within walking distance.

I will continue to support all of these initiatives, but the key to it is we must be fiscally responsible in doing this.  Transportation efforts can be expensive, and I think we need to do it in a responsible way.

… I think what we have to do is look at the budget and we have to allocate the funds appropriately for our transportation along with the other things there.  It would be difficult to say how I would change what we are doing today.

 

Cynthia Neff (D) – Challenger

So that is maybe the hardest question that I’ve seen on here. … I’ve heard people say that we haven’t gotten our fair share of transportation money and yet I know that the State of Virginia has decided not to fund transportation … we don’t really fund for the maintenance of it. …

…  I think the frustration level has grown exponentially among residents that are saying, “What’s going on here?  Do we have a plan?”  And I’ve been involved and I’m not sure we do.  I know that we had a transportation plan for the neighborhood I live in called Places 29.  And I know it kind of got thrown out of the window.

… [W]e’re not keeping up with infrastructure.  It means we’re not really focused on the quality of life for our folks.  It makes me absolutely crazy when I look at Pantops.  Pantops – we’re continuing to construct homes on Pantops when we know we have a traffic problem.  And there’s a part of me that says at some point when do we say, … “Is it okay that we just bring Pantops to gridlock?”  I mean, I met with the new police chief the other day and I think they’re quite concerned about how emergency vehicles are going to get up to the new hospital. …

… I know a lot of people would be surprised, but in places where I’ve been knocking on doors in Forest Lakes, in Hollymead, and off Proffit Road, and off Polo Grounds Road and over in Stony Point, people want to ride their bikes to work. … the other day, an older guy, was looking at this Vespa that he had just bought and he said, “You know, I just threw away this money.”  He says, “All of a sudden I realized I’m terrified, you know, to get on Proffit Road or to get on 29.” 

And you know that’s not going to be for everybody, but I think we’re not making progress towards these goals of alternate transportations.  We just kind of don’t talk about them because we erased the whole thing away – at least every meeting I’ve ever been in.  There’s no money.  And so I think we have to have a conversation about what does this “there is no money” means and start really building a priority list …

 

Scottsville District

Chris Dumler (D) – Open Seat

I think my transportation agenda for Albemarle is sort of three-fold … The first one is the most important and it’s ensuring that we use the Comprehensive Plan to concurrently plan for transportation infrastructure and land use decisions.  I think it’s absolutely critical that if we’re expecting an additional 1,200 homes, 2,000 homes, however many, down on, say, Somerset Farm, that we have a plan for how we’re going to widen 20 and maybe that’ll cost more money but the plan needs to be in place …

We had the Western Bypass that we planned for 20 years ago and if it had been 20 years ago with the land use decisions in place at the time, it probably would’ve been a great road for the County.  Unfortunately, with where we’re at now, it sort of dumps you off in the middle of the growth area and I don’t think it’s the best fit … in an era where we have very few state dollars, as you know, for transportation infrastructure, we need to make sure that we’re using what money we do have in a way that maximizes its efficiency.

The second thing I think we need to get really serious about is promoting alternatives, alternatives like bus rapid transit, alternatives like enhanced walkability, bicycle friendliness in the growth area in particular.  I think we need to be mindful of our growth patterns and maybe prepare for one day the possibility of light rail in Albemarle County.  … if we don’t have the growth patterns to support those sort of possibilities, that money is going to go to Norfolk, it’s going to go to Hampton Roads, it’s going to go to communities that do have the growth patterns to support it.

And the third thing I think we need to get serious about is ensuring that residents in Scottsville, particularly in the southern end of the district, are getting value for their money.  You have things as simple as VDOT’s maintenance of the roads, trimming trees, mowing along the right-of-ways, that by failing to do so, you have increased power outages with trees falling on the lines, you have people who can’t back out of their driveways … I think that you have a lot of people down in Scottsville who sort of resent not being paid attention to … It’ll require ensuring that they get in the County’s transportation maintenance plan, but whatever that mechanism is, it needs to be addressed …

 

Jim Norwood (R) – Open Seat

Well recently I came out with a press release regarding what I think is important and that is to be sure that the mobility of our residents in this county is addressed to be sure that we can give people in the outlying regions access to the city, the hospitals and doctors. 

I met with the director of [Charlottesville Area Transit] (CAT) and also the director of JAUNT.  We talked about the transportation agenda over the next five years.  I’d like to see an expansion of service, especially to the Mill Creek area and at some point in time to Scottsville.  I understand the costs that are involved.  I think that when it comes to funding I think I’d really have to sit down and look at the budget and see the overall budget and how we can approach adding any additional service or trading service. 

I also feel that once the bypass is built, I think that we’re going to be able to make it a lot easier for transportation issues.  I’d love to see a bus lane on Route 29, which would make a little more expeditious to travel around and shop.  But I do think that at certain areas of the county, like Scottsville, definitely need to enhance the mobility of the citizens, so I would look to expand that down there.

 

White Hall District

Ann Mallek (D) – Incumbent

Transportation has been an issue I’ve been involved in for many years. … So I was appointed to the Charlottesville Albemarle Long Range Transportation Advisory Committee, or CHART in 2000.  … During the eight years I participated in the CHART committee – six years as chair – the focus was finding the most effective parallel road network to carry local and through traffic on Route 29 while following closely the progress of other roads and the bypass at the time.

… [T]ransportation as an issue should emphasize a multi-modal approach where we are enhancing facilities for people to choose the bus, bicycle, walking, carpooling, RideShare, as well as being a solo driver in their auto for mobility.  CHART approved the early widening of Route 29 from the Rivanna Bridge to the Airport Road as a way to have cars now and a bus rapid transit lane at some point in the future when the population density made that a viable alternative.  I support extension of the bus to the airport and vehemently support the northeast regional train service to continue.

Now to your questions. … The bus to me and the train should be more considered as a utility rather than a commercial enterprise that has to be self-sufficient.  Roads and airports all receive federal subsidies or user subsidies from our gasoline taxes and our airport taxes.  There’s no reason to me why our community should not be supporting in a greater way the development of our bus system and also support our trains.  It will reduce our costs in road building and improve our health if we do find ways to encourage people to get out of their cars.

Let’s see.  I do expect it will require more money and so the service district is one way to fund that.  … Members of the Board of Supervisors went to Richmond to the transportation committee more than two years ago to request the right to have a referendum so that our citizens could tell us if they approved of the idea of an increase in the sales tax to be spent specifically on local projects and on transit.  We received a hostile reaction from the transportation committee … saying “build a certain local road and then come back and talk to us, but we’re not interested in transit and those kinds of investments.” …

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