Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Tough Road Ahead for Vienna Roads...


This afternoon, I presented HB 1124, before the Transportation Committee.  My bill would have increased by 20%  the state's portion of funding to towns or cities for their road maintenance if these local roads handle 20% more average daily traffic volume than the average for the rest of the state.  This was my effort to allocate state funds to the roads that need the maintenance the most, and not to treat all roads the same, as the Commonwealth currently funds these projects.

As a resident of Vienna, I regularly drive along Maple Avenue, which is the main road in the Town.  It also connects Route 123 from Fairfax to the southwest and Tysons to the northeast.  With all the current construction going on in Tysons and the new metrorail stations opening there in a few years, it is obvious that Maple Avenue will continue to take on more and more traffic. 

I know that there are many other roads like Maple Avenue throughout Northern Virginia that are in dire need of maintenance and repair.  As a Dillon Rule state, it is the Commonwealth's responsibility to pay for roads.  While local governments share a portions of funds for road repairs, the budgets of towns like Vienna and counties like Fairfax are simply insufficient to fully fund these roads' maintenance costs.

Although I argued to the Committee that my bill would not cost the state any additional moneys because we're simply redistributing the funds, my bill was nevertheless "tabled" or killed by the committee.  The members who opposed my bill argued that (1) my bill would require VDOT to take on additional duties they do not already do, which would be to determine the average daily traffic volume for roads, and (2) the funds to pay for roads in Northern Virginia would take funds away from the other parts of the Commonwealth.

As for point (1), I think VDOT should be able to conduct this analysis since they already have so much data about roads and traffic volume, and with technology, it should not be difficult to develop software that will track road usage on a daily basis.  I will now seek a way to have VDOT conduct these important analysis so this doesn't become another excuse in the future.

As for point (2), this regional battle continues to be the toughest barrier for achieving a comprehensive transportation solution for Virginia.  My colleagues in other parts of the Commonwealth need to recognize that Northern Virginia is and will remain the economic driver of the state and that our transportation needs affect our ability to attract new businesses and jobs to Virginia.  Northern Virginia's success ultimately benefits every corner of the Commonwealth.  This is the ongoing debate in Richmond, and as long as this regional divide remains a problem for Northern Virginia, I will continue to fight for our fair share of state funds.

I want to thank four of my colleagues on the Transportation Committee who voted to support my bill.  In particular, I want to recognize my friend and fellow freshman Delegate Barbara Comstock who represents the bordering 34th District.  As a Republican, Delegate Comstock crossed the party line to support me, and I appreciate her standing up for Northern Virginia on this vote.

To read my bill and vote count, check: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?101+sum+HB1124

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