Thursday, November 03, 2005

Traffic Buster

Bob Burke has filed a story about the MetroWest project near the Vienna metro station in Fairfax County. Local residents are worried that cramming 6,000 residents, plus offices and retail, on a mere 56 acres will make local traffic conditions unbearable. He describes how developer Pulte Homes, as a condition of getting the rezoning approval it needs, has committed itself to curtail car ridership of the MetroWest residents.

This may be one of the most significant development projects in Virginia. Pulte Homes is going where no Virginia developer has gone before: It is designing its community from the ground up with the goal of reducing the number of automobile trips generated by its residents and businesses. The MetroWest project is a crucial test case to prove or disprove the notion that better urban design can have a significant impact on ameliorating traffic congestion.

You can read Burke's story here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Cost of Living in Stafford Co.

Stafford County, where home prices now average about $409,000, last night decided to nearly double its proffer 'request' per single-family homes to about $38,000, says this story in The Free Lance-Star. Board members said the increased was needed to offset rising costs for transportation and public education.

Also yesterday, a panel recommended that state officials pursue one of two proposals to add HOT lanes down I-95 to the Fredericksburg region, says the Washington Post. If the HOT lane project is ever built commuters from Stafford, Spotsylvania and the greater Fredericksburg region will be able to buy their way into a quicker commute to jobs in metro Washington. And then, with the certainty of their commute established, more people will want to move to Stafford, only they'll actually decide to move to neighboring Caroline or King George counties, where proffers are way lower. And so on.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Conspiracy of Anti-Mobility Activists

The Progressive Policy Institute's VP Rob Atkinson was among the speakers at last week's Virginia Transportation Conference and got in some good shots during the Thursday morning session. In an essay titled 'The Politics of Gridlock,' Atkinson blames "anti-mobility activists" for adopting a stop-everything strategy:
'Their agenda is not to solve the very real problems that come from suburbanization and the automobile. They would prefer to roll back the clock and get people out of the suburbs and their cars by making it more difficult and expensive to drive. Their attitude can be summed up as follows: 'How else are we going to get people out of their cars and into buses and onto bicycles if we don't make their commute as unpleasant as possible?"'
This coalition includes environmentalists, urban planners, anti-poverty activists, Naderites activists, transit supporters and some big-city politicians, Atkinson says. He also noted the "auto-suburban status quo defenders (developers, many chambers of commerce, automobile associations, and highway builders)who work to continue old patterns."

What's needed today, he says, is a 'Third Way' that 'seeks to preserve the benefits of mobility while addressing its problems.' Which requires these steps:

-Respect the desire of Americans to live where they want to
-Reject today's fashionable defeatism about congestion
-Speed development and deployment of new transportation technologies
-Tackle NIMBYism head on
-Create regional transportation councils
-Reduce public subsidies and rely more on user fees and public-private partnerships
-Restructure the relationship between the federal government and the states

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Rebellion Hath Arrived

The Oct. 31, 2005, edition of Bacon's Rebellion hath been published. Thou canst read it here.

Noteworthy for those interested in transportation and land use reform:

Coping with $60-per-Barrel Oil
Sen. John Watkins wants to devise a long-term energy plan for Virginia. Let's hope that plan includes free markets, micro-power, conservation and land use reform.
by James A. Bacon

Mobility and Access: A Report Card
Philip Shucet ran a tight ship at VDOT, but his 10 recommendations for transportation reform reflect the tunnel vision of a highway engineer. He still doesn't get the need for fundamental change in human settlement patterns.
by EM Risse

And, last but not least, a repeat article from the last edition with the correct link:

Pork on Steroids
Transportation spending at the federal level has become a raw money grab, and it's getting that way in Virginia, too.
by William Vincent

Speaking in Code in Roanoke

Lately it seems that making a point about the state's transportation funding problems requires dropping the name of former VDOT commissioner Phil Shucet. His reputation is soaring out of sight these days, and the Roanoke Times uses Shucet's speech at last week's Virginia Transportation Conference as fuel for this editorial.

'No one in Virginia has more credibility on transportation than Shucet, a consummate professional who turned VDOT around in his three years heading the agency... It is not enough, Shucet warned, to "repeat the same tired numbers" and wait for "people to get" the magnitude of the problem. "That's not going to happen," he said.

'Bold action by the next governor will be essential. Somehow, Virginia will have to raise more money for transportation. A stable, significant stream of revenue will be critical to heading off the crisis.'

What does "bold action" to create this stable, significant stream of revenue mean? A tax increase, presumably, would be a part of it. Maybe political candidates need to avoid the 'T' word, but editorial writers don't.