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Local officials ask transportation remedies

Date published: 9/6/2012



--Local officials in Virginia's urban crescent are calling on the governor and lawmakers to find solutions to the state's transportation funding problems.

Officials from 38 counties, cities and towns in Northern Virginia, the Richmond region and Hampton Roads sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell and leaders of the General Assembly urging them to address the issue, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday.

"Virginia needs real transportation solutions that provide significant increases in state transportation funding for all modes from new stable, reliable, permanent and balanced sources," the officials wrote.

According to the letter, 26 percent of state-maintained roads are in poor conditions but there is no money for secondary and urban road system construction. The problem is greater for urban crescent localities, where 34 percent of state-maintained roads are in poor shape.

"Transportation is fundamentally a state responsibility," the officials wrote, calling on "elected state leaders to take bold action to address this crisis."

McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said the governor's 2011 funding package provided the most new funding for the state's transportation system since 1996.

"He has also advanced innovative new revenue sources for construction and maintenance, such as exploring highway and rest-area sponsorships, strategic tolling to dedicate funding to Virginia's most important roads and dedicating additional surplus funding to transportation," Caldwell told the newspaper. "He will continue working with regional and General Assembly leaders to ensure transportation remains a top priority for this state."

Officials in Chesterfield and Powhatan counties did not sign the letter.

Daniel A. Gecker, chairman of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, said the letter did not go far enough.

"Chesterfield was prepared to sign a letter if it proposed solutions," Gecker said, "but the urban crescent localities didn't propose solutions," instead calling on state leaders, in effect, "to do their jobs."

Barry Hodge, chairman of the Powhatan Board of Supervisors, said county officials believed the letter focused too much on funding as a solution and went beyond the localities' initial consensus.

However, he said, "this issue needs to be addressed. I don't think the localities can stand on the sidelines. They need to be involved."