Friday, September 16, 2005

Road versus Transit versus Politicians

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tim Kaine says transit projects should be on equal footing with road projects - but GOP critics say that would just steal dollars away from roads that the state desperately needs to build.

An article in The Free Lance-Star today covers the dispute:

'GOP delegates and senators held two conference calls with reporters, orchestrated by Republican Jerry Kilgore's campaign, to blast Kaine for what they viewed as a call to change the state's complicated transportation funding formulas.

"I'm not exactly sure what the lieutenant governor meant, but what he'd have to do is change the transportation trust fund formula to do what he intends to do," said state Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol. "I don't know that we should rob from Peter to pay Paul. To take it from an already strained transportation budget adds to the problems we already have.'

To which Kaine's camp responds, nonsense. The disparity isn't in how much each gets, it's in how they're funded. The state pays for nearly all the cost of roads, while localities have to foot the bill for transit projects and then apply for federal and state reimbursements - and the state caps its reimbursements at 35 percent of the nonfederal share of the cost.

'"There is an incentive that leads localities away from mass-transit projects even if the mass-transit project is the right one," said Kaine spokesman Jeff Kraus. "We want to ensure that localities aren't penalized for selecting mass-transit options to meet their need."'

An inspiring policy debate. You gotta love Sen. Wampler's comment - 'I'm not exactly sure what the lieutenant governor meant...'


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Jim Duncan said...

It is nice to see this debate getting this kind of press and public discussion. Ideally, the incentive to provide mass transit will be the Tipping Point needed to help move away from an auto-centric society. As developments are clustered further from work places and people commute (usually one-to-a-car), mass transit in theory makes sense.

Getting the rights-of-way from existing land-owners without exercising eminent domain in an abhorrent manner will be yet another challenge.

There should be a good balance between roads and mass transit.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Steve Haner said...

While were on the topic, in two straight meetings of the House Transportation Committee subcommittee #4, the House version of a transportation study this weekend, Chairman Leo Wardrup has directed a group to come up with formula changes. Delegates Rust and Fralin, I think. Wonder what Kilgore and Wampler and others will think of those? Will we see them before Nov. 8?

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve -- It still has to get through Transportation subs of Appropriations and Finance. With folks like Hawkins, Wampler, Dudley and Stump in the mix, that might be a tall order.


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