Revive the discussion

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now that Gov. Bob McDonnell has introduced a proposal that would infuse $4 billion worth of new money into the state’s transportation budget during the next three years, it is once again up to members of Virginia’s General Assembly to come up with a better plan, to approve the governor’s plan or to do nothing at all to relieve the congestion that chokes the commonwealth’s two most important economic engines, Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

Even the most casual of observers can hardly fail to notice that we’ve been down this road before.

For more than a decade, transportation improvements have been held up while legislators have talked, talked and talked. Meanwhile, the roads that serve Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia have become ever more clogged, little by little destroying the commonwealth’s attractiveness as a home to new business and industry.


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The jury is still out on the efficacy of Gov. McDonnell’s proposal, though it would appear at first glance to have some merit. But something resonates that he said in putting the plan forward: “There are no Democrat or Republican roads.” That should be the rallying cry of a General Assembly with a short session this year in which to make some progress on this vital issue.

McDonnell’s approach to transportation hasn’t been flawless. His insistence on pressing forward with an expensive replacement to Route 460, for example, would do little to alleviate gridlock in Hampton Roads and, in fact, would further burden an already stressed portion of Route 58 — all at a huge cost to taxpayers and with the promise of expensive tolls, to boot.

Still, the governor has put forward a serious plan to raise money for transportation without requiring tax increases. Virginia’s delegates and senators have a lot to worry about this year in a short session, but this is one item that can no longer be relegated to the back burner. It’s time for the transportation discussion to heat back up.