Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation: “It’s an ugly picture”

Last week I tuned in to Coy Barefoot’s radio program on WINA and heard the Secretary of Transportation characterize the “ugly picture” of Virginia’s transportation funding crisis.  At the end of the interview (see transcript below), Coy Barefoot asked the Secretary what he was going to do next, given the inaction by the General Assembly to address transportation in the recently approved state budget.  I

was not

shocked when he said Virginia can’t afford to do much.  I


shocked when he suggested it would be helpful for localities to develop a list of priority projects that might get the state’s attention.

It got me thinking I should write an open letter to our Secretary of Transportation…

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Below you will find links to the Albemarle County Secondary Road Projects list and to the priorities of our local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  Two such priority lists you mentioned would be helpful.  As you can see, our community has a prioritized list of needs.  More priorities will be identified as our community grows and as we continue to proactively develop master plans for designated growth areas. What should we do next Mr. Secretary to keep Virginia (and Charlottesville-Albemarle) moving forward?

Sincerely yours,

Brian Wheeler

Podcast available at Charlottesville Podcasting

Coy Barefoot, WINA

: What’s the next step for your office?

Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia

:  Well, what we are going to begin doing is communicating to people about what we really can afford over the next six years in transportation.  It is not much.

Coy Barefoot, WINA

: It’s not a pretty picture is it?.

Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia

:  It is an ugly picture.  Then we are going to be articulating, in ways, maybe that are a little bit better understood [in the] community.  What are some immediate needs?  What would be helpful, I think, in this process would be Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding counties to say what are some facilities that absolutely need to be built.  What are some transportation services that need to be provided to meet the quality of life that you need.  We can put a price tag on that.  I think some of those simple project-based, program-based illustrations resonate very well with legislators, and so if a legislator from Albemarle County wanted to support the idea of concentrated growth [e.g. in the County’s designated growth areas], what does that take in the way of infrastructure costs, at least as far as transportation infrastructure, and let’s find a way to honestly pay for that.”