Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kaine Taps Homer for Sec. Transportation

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported this morning that Tim Kaine would announce today that Pierce R. Homer would be re-appointed Secretary of Transportation. Homer, as I observed in my latest column in the Bacon's Rebellion e-zine, has spearheaded the Warner administration strategy of inviting public-private partnerships to submit proposals for adding new transportation capacity and paying for it with tolls.

Presumably, Kaine's selection of Homer signals a desire for continuity with the Warner administration policy. Reporters Michael Hardy and Jeff E. Schapiro, who cite "advisors to Kaine," also list the following reasons why Kaine favored Homer:
  • The continuity provided by Homer frees Kaine to conduct a national search for a Virginia Department of Transportation commissioner to replace Philip Shucet.
  • Hiring the commissioner soon would "help make his case for an expensive transportation-improvement plan," which probably will include tolls and increased vehicle fees.
  • Homer's background as a lobbyist for Prince William County gives him familiarity with local land-use policy. Kaine has insisted that any long-range solution to the transportation crisis must address the disjunction between transportation and land use planning.
I've had the opportunity to speak with Homer on a couple of occasions, and I've heard him deliver at least two speeches. That doesn't qualify me an expert on his thinking, but it does give me some insight. My impression is that Homer's emphasis is lining up private investment public-private partnerships, raising revenues through tolls, and increasing the capacity of the state's most congested transportation corridors -- Interstate-495, the Dulles Toll Road, I-66, I-395/I-95, Route 460, and I-81.

I haven't heard him express any concern about the potential land-use implications of these projects. That's not to say he doesn't have any concerns, just that I haven't heard them. It will be interesting to see how the Homer toll-and-build strategy reconciles with the Kaine land-use strategy.


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