As we head into the next session of the Virginia General Assembly, I urge readers of this blog to keep a close eye on the analysis from

Jim Bacon at Bacon’s Rebellion

.  He has had several good posts this week (


At Last, a Real Land Use Debate


) about the transportation proposals coming from the House Republican leadership.

Jim Bacon

summarizes

the three main components of the Republican proposals:

This past June, I was shocked to hear the Secretary of Transportation on WINA telling our community that it would be helpful for us to have a list of priority projects which could receive the limited transportation dollars available.  I

wrote him an open letter

with a link to our

existing

priority lists.  The City of Charlottesville and Albemarle have jointly identified over $100 million in transportation priorities and they are working towards the creation of a regional transit authority.  With respect to the House proposals, Albemarle County has long had designated growth areas and long asked for the ability to levy impact fees. I assume these legislators would give our region high marks for our planning and cooperation efforts.

We have also

identified funding options

to pursue in the event new funds don’t come from Richmond.  Mr. Bacon has astutely pointed out over the past year that the answer to Virginia’s transportation crisis is not just more money, it will also require changes to how we conduct the business of transportation and land use planning in Virginia.  Newcomers in Virginia often ask why we do things the way we do.  Why don’t we have impact fees?  Why can’t local government withhold approval for new developments until there is adequate infrastructure?  Why can’t roads be built in advance to prepare for new development?

These House Republican proposals seek to change the way we do business, but it is quite reasonable for our community, one that has invested so much in smart growth approaches, to also ask for the resources to ensure the success of our long range plans.  We should be asking our legislators how we will fund our existing priorities.  We should ask how these proposals will help with the almost 18,000 housing units already in our development pipeline. We should ask whether the problem will just be shifted to local government and local property taxes.

Locally, NBC29 has gotten initial reactions from Supervisor Dennis Rooker [

view interview

] who shares his concerns that our transportation priorities will require “millions of dollars a year of additional revenue… that would have to come from somewhere.”

This is going to be quite interesting.

Brian Wheeler

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Charlottesville Tomorrow

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