Very quietly, Cuccinelli releases transportation plan
Ken Cuccinelli first alluded to his transportation plan in this Washington Post op-ed from June 28. He wrote at the time:
In the coming weeks, I will unveil a comprehensive transportation plan designed to alleviate traffic by fundamentally changing our approach to transportation funding. Instead of political reasoning, my administration would rely on a statewide traffic congestion index to determine how new construction is prioritized. Every locality in Virginia would have independent trigger mechanisms — based on quantifiable measures of traffic congestion and road capacity — that will determine funding and prioritization of projects. No matter how vigorously certain localities or special interests try to sway lawmakers in Richmond, every new project would be considered under the same guidelines. When it comes to transportation spending, this frugal and objective approach would relieve more congestion than McAuliffe’s attempts to use precious transportation dollars to reward his union supporters and fund projects for the well connected.
The numbers — not the lobbyists — will dictate Virginia’s transportation projects if I am elected governor. Our plan will allow for significantly more transparency and public input, which I believe will have a positive impact on the system.
Those “next few weeks” turned out to be four months. But now we have this. In short, the plan seeks to create “a performance-based transportation system built around a Congestion Matrix Database System that will put more of Virginia’s transportation decisions in the hands of localities and the public.”
There are a number of recommendations, including devolution:
4. The Commonwealth will turn over land assets within their jurisdictions that have been acquired by VDOT for secondary roads to the localities. The localities are well equipped to make land use decisions. The localities will be better able to expedite the appropriate resources and permitting for road construction or increasing capacity.
5. Work with VDOT and the General Assembly to implement a phase-in option to eliminate state funding for new secondary roads, thereby avoiding an unfunded maintenance mandate. The state will establish a date certain that it would no longer accept newly constructed subdivision roads for maintenance.
6. My administration will phase in the remaining counties by initially devolving services—such as traffic lights, signs and rest areas— in anticipation of providing title to existing secondary roads. The Commonwealth would provide current funding to counties to cover the costs of the services through transitional grants that would allow the county to develop the infrastructure and mechanisms to provide maintenance services and eventually take title to the secondary roads so this will not be an unfunded mandate. Some counties will be wary of taking over secondary roads that are deteriorated or have been behind schedule for maintenance. As an option, the state could bring the roads up to standard on schedule and turn over the title upon completion as part of phasing in the ownership to localities.
I’ve heard whispers about this plan for months. Some very good people worked on it and their ideas deserve a serious discussion — because what is proposed here borders on the revolutionary.
Which may help explain why it was kept under wraps for so very, very long.