The Virginian-Pilot has a quaint little story about the Mayor of Portsmouth and city ‘leaders’ protesting today about the tolls announced for the new Midtown Tunnel project announced by Governor McDonnell this week.
Backed by a throng of local politicians and community leaders, Mayor Kenny Wright and others blasted the new Midtown toll project at a rally outside City Hall today and urged state officials to reconsider the plans.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Steering Committee organized the event, which came two days after the state signed an agreement with a consortium of private companies to build the project. Plans call for tolls to help pay for a new parallel Midtown Tunnel, rehabilitation of the Midtown and Downtown tunnels and an extension of the Martin Luther King Freeway to connect with Interstate 264.
The Rev. Melvin O. Marriner, president of the MLK committee, told a crowd of about a hundred people that the tolls, at $1.84 at peak hours for cars, will place too large of a burden on the city’s working class, students, the elderly and businesses.
Wright said he had written to VDOT officials last January and had been monitoring the project but that state officials weren’t releasing enough details of the project to protest it.
Literally EVERY article the Virginian-Pilot has written about this project has included toll projections. The state has included poll projections. Their first projection at $2 – 4 led to an outcry from Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim who worked with the state to get tolls down.
Kenny Wright had this option. He chose not to. He chose ignorance to a project that would impact his jurisdiction for the better, at the cost of tolls.
To put your head in the sand and ignore what’s going on around for you for a full year is unforgivable. Wright attempts to substitute volume for leadership, and the Virginian-Pilot is giving him the megaphone. It won’t work. There’s a reason that Portsmouth is regarding as the weakest city in Hampton Roads, because of its so-called leadership. Despite being a port city of tremendous importance and history, the leadership in Portsmouth for the past three decades has been abysmal. Until voters stop rubber stamping every candidate that the Democratic machine supports in the city, moments of blind stupidity such as this will continue unabated. Kenny Wright purposefully waited until after the contract was signed to complain about it. Shame on him, and shame on him for trying to rally Portsmouth behind his own incompetence. Blame the individual, not the state. They did their jobs while he sat idly by.
Wake up Portsmouth, because while Kenny Wright never met a microphone he didn’t like, he couldn’t even be bothered to pay attention to a newspaper for an entire year.