Friday, October 14, 2005

The State-Local Disconnect in Transportation Planning

Charlottesville and Albemarle County aren't your typical Virginia localities -- between liberal university professors and horse-country gentry, residents of this corner of Virginia have very different ideas about how to do things, including plan for transportation. So, it's not surprising that local government officials clash with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The latest instance: According to the Daily Progress, VDOT recently caught local officials offguard when it unveiled proposals to widen stretches of U.S. 29 and U.S. 250. Local officials, want to give priority to pedestrian and bike lanes.

There appears to be plenty of opportunity in the planning process to reconcile competing visions, so it's not as if VDOT is going to slip something past the local officials. But the more fundamental issue is this: Why do we have this disconnect in the first place?

When authority is distributed between VDOT administrators, an unelected Commonwealth Transportation Board and local government officials, the "process" takes over. No one is really in charge, and no one is accountable.


At 8:40 AM, Blogger Jim Duncan said...

No one is really in charge, and no one is accountable.

The public are accountable for not getting involved and influencing their representatives at the local and state levels. This kind of disconnect represents how far removed the State officials are from the local needs/process.

VDOT District Administrator Morteza Salehi said discovering local officials’ unhappiness with the proposal is exactly what the process is geared to do.

Why does the process get so far without local input? Somebody needs to have a bit of a reckoning with the VDOT officials who, based solely on this article, are making these planning decisions in their own little vacuum.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After local oficials turn down widening of the roads, will they then turn around and use the lack of road capacity as a means to prevent development, citing lack of adequate facilities?

At 1:36 PM, Blogger subpatre said...

Lack of local infrastructure can be used to deny development. The flip sides are that the infrastructure must be clearly inadequate; and the locality cannot deny development to those willing to provide (upgrade, improve) the needed infrastructure.


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