The Latest On Transportation From Richmond

Senator Herring has been providing weekly updates from Richmond on this year’s session. Below, he does a good job explaining the current state of play on transportation, from the large budget issues involved to the specific projects and initiatives he’s working on.

This morning, Sen. Herring announced his support for the transportation compromise that Gov. McDonnell is working on. That support was the result of the inclusion of Sen. Herring’s priorities in the bill.

“As the Governor has repeatedly acknowledged, this plan is a first step in addressing Virginia’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs.  All of the experts, including the Governor himself, are in agreement: Virginia needs over $1 billion dollars per year to adequately meet those needs,” Herring said.  ”While I do have concerns about relying on borrowed money, Virginia does have significant short term needs that these funds can immediately address.”

“Among those are Loudoun County’s top transportation infrastructure projects,” Herring said.  ”Through my efforts and the efforts of County officials, my Route 7 Task Force, and the business community, I am pleased that Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has pledged that the state will fully fund the construction of the Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road interchange and the Sycolin Road flyover in Leesburg, [Emphasis mine -P13] if the package passes the General Assembly.  The Governor’s bond package will also include state funding for several other projects of great importance to eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax County.”

In addition, Senator Herring’s legislation, SB 1329, to amend the state’s highway “revenue sharing” program with localities to make more state matching funds available to localities that wish to undertake their own road construction projects, was merged into the Governor’s transportation bill, SB 1446, making Senator Herring a chief co-patron of the legislation. – Sen. Mark Herring

I am personally skeptical of using bonds and borrowing to pay for immediate, short-term needs. We badly need real transportation funding reform. However, I acknowledge that it is easy for me to preach the gospel of reforming funding sources from behind my keyboard on a blog. I’m not a serving state Senator.

It is inarguable that we have real needs for the Sycolin Flyover and Belmont Ridge interchange, today. Sen. Herring worked hard on behalf of his constituents to see those projects made priorities by the state. He is delivering on his community’s needs.

“Throughout this process, I pledged to keep an open mind and work constructively with the Governor and his administration. As the Governor himself is fond of saying, ‘There are no Republican or Democratic roads,’ and I could not agree more,” Herring continued.  ”Our constituents expect us to come down to Richmond and to work together, members of both parties in both houses, to find solutions to our most pressing issues, and transportation is certainly at the top of that list.” – Sen. Herring

I defer to the Senator’s judgment on the long-term wisdom of the borrow-and-build plan, as he knows much more about such things than I do. I trust that Senator Herring will make solving the revenue side of the transportation problem a priority in the months and years ahead.