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Va. business ranking has taken a detour page 2
General Assembly 2013--transportation. Richard Saslaw.

Date published: 1/6/2013


Across the country there is no evidence that any governmental entity has successfully paved its way out of gridlock. In Northern Virginia, the Metro and mass transit must be seriously addressed if we are to improve the quality of life for families and the much-desired employees of companies doing business here. Finishing the Silver Line to Dulles and beyond will positively affect the Tech Corridor all the way to and from Tysons Corner.

Maintaining nearly 18,000 miles of roads on a shoe- string budget has caused us to dip into the transportation construction fund, leaving an imbalance in revenue for new projects, including local road improvements. The major projects we see today are on the books under the Public Private Transportation Act. Generally speaking when you see a PPTA, you see a toll. Witness the advent of HOT lanes in Northern Virginia and proposed tolling of the interstate in Southside.

Building a toll road that parallels U.S. 460 makes about as much sense as trying to sell the naming rights to bridges as a successful means to fund transportation. It is estimated that fewer than 6,000 cars will traverse that road daily. This pales in comparison to daily traffic in and out of the larger subdivisions in the northern part of Virginia.

Further, I remain deeply concerned about taking General Fund money for transportation. Firstly, it is a continuation of "robbing Peter to pay Paul." Secondly, we are underfunding public education--especially higher education--so significantly that we run the risk of being noncompetitive in the world economy. Business leaders stress the need to prepare the next generation with the skills necessary as a future workforce.

Senate Democrats and I head into this legislative session with great hope and open minds for long-overdue solutions to break through the gridlock. We are ready to craft the long-term roadmap that addresses our economic needs and restores the quality of life that Virginians have worked hard to achieve and have come to expect.

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Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-35th (parts of Fairfax County and of the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church), is Democratic leader of the state Senate. He is a member of and previously chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Transportation.