Public Comments for 01/21/2021 Transportation - Transportation Systems Subcommittee
HB1832 - Virginia Highway Corporation Act; alteration of certificate of authority, powers and duties of SCC.
Members of the House Transportation Committee, The Loudoun Chamber, which collectively represents over 1,000 member businesses and tens of thousands of employees across Loudoun County and the region, would like to express our organization’s support of Delegate Subramanyam’s Bill, HB1832. This bill will contribute greatly to our goal of making the Dulles Greenway an economic asset to our community rather than a financial liability for the thousands of employees that rely on it for transportation to and from their jobs, future access to Metro stations, as well as for businesses that utilize the road as a vital east west access to Dulles Airport. The extremely high cost of tolls on the Dulles Greenway for employees that drive to, and through, our community has demonstrably discouraged local drivers from using the roadway and seek alternatives on local roads and neighborhood streets. This conclusion can be clearly drawn from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Annual Traffic Data Report. That report shows, while Greenway usage has decreased in recent years, traffic on surrounding roads has grown dramatically as drivers seek more affordable routes. WTOP Radio News, the top news station in our Nation’s Capital, reports that while Loudoun has long been one of Virginia’s fastest growing counties, the Greenway’s own annual report shows that in 2018, traffic at the main toll plaza declined by 4.5%. Additionally, the statute governing the Dulles Greenway’s toll rates states TRIP II is owed “no more than a reasonable rate of return as determined by the Commission.” In our view, TRIP II consistently seeks returns far greater than those they should be allowed under the statute. We believe a reasonable rate of return should be based on the depreciated original cost of the road and on any additional costs involved with maintaining and improving the facility. Currently TRIP II includes many factors far outside and beyond the original cost and ongoing maintenance in determining and justifying requests for toll increases. For these reasons, the Loudoun Chamber respectfully requests that the Committee votes to pass HB1832. Thank you for considering the perspective of our businesses and their employees on this issue of significant concern to the community we serve. Grafton deButts Vice President of Membership & Government Affairs Loudoun Chamber
As the chair of the CEO Cabinet of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, I pledge support for bill HB 1832. The CEO Cabinet comprises the leadership of more than 50 businesses here in Loudoun County, which employ many thousands of Loudoun County citizens. The economic well-being and quality of life for these employees and their families is a vital part of what we work to sustain – and this application proposes to continue to negatively impact that for years to come. I have an understanding of the facts, but we want to reinforce a few key points to summarize the reasons for our opposition. - TRIP II already enjoys the benefits of unreasonably high rates based on years of large increases. - TRIP II's high rates unreasonably discourage travel on the toll road -- the Northern Virginia population has steadily increased while traffic on the toll road has steadily decreased. - This fact has caused additional large expense for local governments to enhance multiple surrounding roadways as commuters over-use those in lieu of the toll road. - If rates were more reasonable, more of our employees could use the toll road and save time and fuel expenses incurred by expressly avoiding that route. - All of the above points would be more than sufficient argument in a non-pandemic environment however, given the extreme economic hardship brought about by COVID-19, continued broad approval of increases would be inappropriate. Sincerely, Dario A. Campolattaro
HB1854 - U.S. Route 29; county manager plan of government.
HB1910 - Regional transportation authorities; creation.
Dear Delegates, The Stafford County Board of Supervisors (Board) wishes to express its opposition to House Bill 1910. This bill proposes to create a Fredericksburg Regional Transportation Improvement Committee comprised of the member localities of Planning District 16. Neither the Board of Supervisors, County staff, nor the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO) were consulted prior to the introduction of this legislation. The Board has the following concerns about this proposed legislation: HB 1910 Impedes the Efforts of FAMPO and GWRC – FAMPO and GWRC are the bodies responsible for regional transportation planning and distribution of state and federal transportation funds to regional transportation efforts in Planning District 16. HB 1910 Places an Unfair Funding Burden on Stafford County – HB 1910 proposes that the member localities fund the Fredericksburg Regional Transportation Improvement Committee with contribution amounts based on the relative population of each locality. HB 1910 Denies Stafford Fair Representation – The Fredericksburg Regional Transportation Improvement Committee’s voting members would include the member localities of Planning District 16, Under this funding model, Stafford would be required to contribute more of it’s local taxpayer dollars to the Committee but would not receive a commensurate share of voting privileges. HB 1910 Limits Local Eligibility for Federal and State Transportation Funding – The introduction of another transportation body in Planning District 16 with access to funding will further dilute an already small funding pot of state and federal transportation dollars. HB 1910 Reduces Local Control over Transportation Planning – Localities know best the conditions of their road networks and the specific demands of their residents. Creating this Committee will reduce local control and prioritize regional initiatives over locality specific transportation needs, thereby minimizing effective local transportation planning. The Stafford County Board of Supervisors intends to adopt proposed Resolution R21-77, formally opposing HB 1910, at its February 2nd meeting. Given the fast-moving nature of the General Assembly, it is imperative the legislators be aware of our opposition and the circumstances surrounding this proposed legislation. We respectfully urge you to oppose this legislation. Sincerely, Crystal L. Vanuch, Chairman Stafford County Board of Supervisors Rock Hill District
My name is Stephen Grammer, from Roanoke Virginia. Transportation is a huge barrier for the disability community. I encourage you to pass HB1910. This will allow us to travel. We need to go without any barriers between different counties and cities. Again, I encourage you to pass HB1910. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Virginia League of Conservation Voters requests this bill go by for the day in order to resolve several concerns: This bill authorizes any two or more adjacent counties or cities to create a regional transportation authority. Any such authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. Membership can subsequently be expanded to include any locality within the region that would have been eligible to be an initial member. This would mean even more regional transportation authorities that are increasingly causing concern because they can evade a number of key federal requirements and possibly state oversight as well. Indeed, this bill would seem to give them clear authority to take on state highway projects as long as they consult with the CTB. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this bill further with the bill patron.
HB 1910 authorizes any two or more adjacent counties or cities to create a regional transportation authority. Any such authority would be a political subdivision of the Commonwealth with broad powers. While we do not oppose this bill at this time, it does raise serious concerns. In the past 5 years, the General Assembly has authorized or created regional transportation authorities in the Commonwealth’s three largest regions (Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and Richmond) and on the I-81 corridor. This bill would substantially expand that scope allowing any two localities not part of one of these authorities to create their own authority. Each of these new authorities would be a political subdivision of the Commonwealth with significant powers. The potential proliferation of unelected political subdivisions raises issues such as accountability. And it further balkanizes Virginia’s transportation program. Moreover, there are already growing concerns about the ability of the regional transportation authorities that have already been created to fund projects on state highways that increase future maintenance costs state taxpayers must bear without approval by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. In addition, these authorities in some cases have sought to evade key federal environmental requirements and possibly state oversight as well. Since the existing transportation authorities are limited to regions with a significant number of localities, population, and geographic area, these concerns are somewhat lessened but still need to be addressed with regard to existing authorities. These concerns will be magnified if HB 1910 passes and any two localities can create such an authority. At the very least, it might be in order to study the track record and impacts of regional transportation authorities before such a broad potential expansion, and to require at least major projects pursued by any additional transportation authority to at least require CTB approval and provide for some level of environmental review. These concerns should be addressed before this bill goes any further. Thank you. Trip Pollard Senior Attorney Southern Environmental Law Center
I support HB1910. This is long overdue to give our Fredericksburg Region the opportunity to Raise over $35 million annually reducing the burden on state budgets and increase funding for transit, rail, and road projects desperately needed. Thank you to Delegate Joshua Cole for your leadership.
The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation.
The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports HB1910. All localities should have the right to create a Regional Transportation Authority. A regional transportation authority in our area could: 1) Raise over $35 million annually reducing the burden on state budgets 2) Increase funding for transit, rail, and road projects desperately needed 3) Give the region funding to match or leverage Smart Scale funds increasing the effectiveness of that program 4) Increase economic opportunity for the over 350,000 residents in the Fredericksburg region Please vote to support HB1910.
HB1926 - Central Virginia Transportation Authority; membership.
As a non-voting member to the Central Virginia Transportation Authority, the port will be a voice for freight and growth of commerce in the Central Virginia region. Richmond Marine Terminal continues to grow and produce jobs, investment, and tax revenue in the region, which will continue to influence the needs and performance of the Central Virginia transportation system.
On behalf of the nearly 450 member companies of the Virginia Maritime Association (VMA), we support the addition of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) as a non-voting, ex officio member of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA). As a direct contributor to the economic growth of the Central Virginia region via the Richmond Marine Terminal, the VPA's experienced voice will provide key industry input and intelligence, improving both communications and strategic investment decisions. Similarly, the VPA currently serves as a non-voting member of the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, providing beneficial input. VMA members operating in Central Virginia will rely on key infrastructure investments for future growth, making the VPA a smart choice for formal CVTA membership.
The Virginia Port Authority supports HB1926. As non-voting member to the Central Virginia Transportation Authority, the port will be a voice for freight and growth of commerce in the Central Virginia region. Richmond Marine Terminal continues to grow and produce jobs, investment, and tax revenue in the region, which will continue to influence the needs and performance on the Central Virginia transportation system.
ChamberRVA supports HB1926. The port is an important contributor to the economic vitality of central Virginia, and transportation improvements are needed in the I95 corridor around the Richmond Marine Terminal. Allowing the port to participate in CVTA meetings will facilitate communication about these issues. John Easter ChamberRVA
HB2024 - Dept. of Transportation to work w/ Patrick County in constructing replica.
HB2071 - Transportation funding; statewide prioritization process, resiliency.
I am licensed professional engineer in Virginia and as a member of the professional engineering community which includes the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Society of Civil Engineers, the engineering community supports HB2071 which adds resiliency to the Six-Year Improvement Program, and that the Commissioner of Highways ensure resiliency is incorporated into the design standards for new construction projects. I think we can all agree that increasing our transportation systems resiliency will maintain our ability to adapt to future climate stressors and ensure that our transportation system will continue to serve the public and our economy for future generations. I think it is also worth pointing out that “resiliency” is not limited to just our coastline, for example Alexandria experienced three 100 year storm events in the last 14 months. We need to stop being “reactive” and become “proactive”. Resiliency in our transportation system is an issue for the entire Commonwealth and I encourage you to report out HB2071.
ADD RESILIENCY TO SMART SCALE CATEGORIES According to the Virginia General Assembly, it is in the “public interest that a prioritization process…be…implemented to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s transportation system, transportation safety, transportation accessibility for people and freight, environmental quality, and economic development in the Commonwealth” (§33.2-214.1 of the Code of Virginia). This process, known as SMART SCALE, allows the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Virginia Department of Transportation to score and subsequently award funds to new transportation construction projects throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Despite the existence of categories covering congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, and environmental quality, no category considers or evaluates a metric that will define the efficiency and effectiveness of the Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach transportation system in the 21st Century: resiliency. Although resiliency could be accounted for within several of the existing categories, to date, resiliency is not mentioned in their definitions. For example, safety considers crash frequency and rate, while environment scores are based upon sensitive acreage disturbed and air quality. As a result of this exclusion, Virginia Beach transportation projects that are exclusively designed due to the threat of rising seas score poorly in the SMART SCALE process. Further, projects that score in the existing categories are not given an additional benefit for their potential longevity. Given the critical need for the transportation sector to be part of the City, region, and Commonwealth’s response to sea level rise, resiliency must be considered a factor in Round 5 of SMART SCALE and in other future awards of transportation dollars by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
My name is Katie Shannon and I am with Public Works Engineering for the City of Virginia Beach. As a coastal city with both rural and urban geographies the City of Virginia Beach faces diverse and complex flooding challenges. Currently there are no transportation related grants in Virginia that provide funding for roadway projects that plan for, and adapt to, a future with higher sea levels and more frequent and intense rain events. Grant programs not accounting for flood resiliency leave communities like Virginia Beach at a disadvantage when pursing federal and state grant funding. Adding flood resiliency as a weighted evaluation measure to SMART SCALE would help the City secure state/federal funding to address Sea Level Rise and flood control with roadway projects.
HB2075 - Jefferson Davis Highway; renames any section of U.S. Route 1 to "Emancipation Highway."
As a lifelong Chesterfield resident, I oppose this bill as it already has an alternative name in Route 1. Many residents and those visiting already reference "Jefferson Davis Highway" as Route 1. I believe it might serve best to use our states resources elsewhere.
Its time to remove all traces of memorializing the Confederacy -- the great shame on Virginia starting in 1619 and culminating in the insurrection in 1861 is a forever stain on Virginia We should not continue compounding our immoral beginnings with naming our infrastructure after those who were perpetrators of this ignominy. Its not erasing history to remove names and statuary that is in place to "honor" the dishonorable. Write the story clearly in our text books. Introduce these people there and make sure to mention that Virginians' fought against the union in support of slavery and lost. I fully support renaming Jefferson Davis Highway. I like the proposed name; but would be satisfied with any name other than someone who fought for slavery or owned slaves -- anyone.