Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Route 288, Capital One and $434 Million

The Route 288 project, which Virginia taxpayers funded to the tune of $434 million, was always billed as an "economic development" project. The primary impetus for overriding the normal allocation of state transportation dollars and running up a $248 million project deficit (which was repaid subsequently with General Fund dollars) was the desire to attract Capital One to the West Creek office park.

In 1999 the giant credit card company was searching for a site to establish a national operations center expected to employ 8,000 employees. One of the sites under consideration was the West Creek office park west of Richmond. Capital One demanded some $240 million in transportation improvements, including completion of 288, as a condition for locating there.

It turns out, according to a nugget buried in a Richmond Times-Dispatch investigation into the politics of Route 288, that Capital One was seriously considering another site to the north of Richmond. Indeed, when Richmond business tycoons William Goodwin and "Booty" Armstrong revived an option to purchase West Creek from the original developer, the newspaper reports, "they thought the company had chosen a site north of Richmond at Interstate 295."

That's quite a revelation: There was another site in the Richmond region that satisfied, or came very close to satisfying, Capital One's requirements -- without the need to build a $434 million, four-lane, limited-access highway!

Let me clarify the issue here: The Commonwealth of Virginia spent $434 million to ensure that Capital One would locate in West Creek west of Richmond as opposed to a different location north of Richmond.

Pardon me while I temporarily take leave of my senses. That's absolutely friggin' insane! That is an unprecedented waste of state funds! No friggin' wonder people don't want to pay more in taxes to build more roads! Politicians cannot be trusted to make intelligent decisions! Politicians should all be hanged!

OK, I feel better now.


At 9:34 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Sounds like a perfect example of. Why attempting to link land use planning to transportation is silly. If a plan succeeds, it is cronyism orgraft. If it fails then it is stupidity. Never mind that as Steve points out, the road was planned for decades.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Pardon my spelling and typos. The previous post was sent via blackberry while sitting in a 15 mile backup where the state hasn't spent $434 million. Yet.

Now if modern communications could have found me a way around that messs..........

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