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Transportation: Problem Solving and Promises Kept

May 5, 2017 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Around Virginia 1 Comment

– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33)
Four years ago I came before the voters of the 33rd District, challenging the status quo transportation funding policies that sent our taxes to other parts of the state while leaving us sitting in traffic. I called out projects like the Dulles Rail Project, Coalfields Expressway, and Rt. 460 which would spend billions of dollars without fixing congestion. Here we are four years later, and where do we stand? We are seeing big progress.

My first session in Richmond the legislature completely transformed transportation spending by passing House Bill 2, now known as “SmartScale,” which rates all projects through an objective cost-benefit system. I was one of the dozen co-patrons of this key legislation and moved it forward to fulfill my campaign promise. Aubrey Layne is secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia and chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. In a recent news article, he hit the nail on the head saying, “…we have worked with the General Assembly to radically change, for the better, the delivery and funding of transportation projects. These changes have resulted in the most significant improvements to major urban corridors in more than 30 years.”

The next year, 2015, I introduced legislation (HB 1470) which passed unanimously to make transit (commuter trains and buses) projects go through the same objective congestion relief analysis as road projects, removing a loophole that favored transit projects inside the beltway. But a rating system loses its value if weighting of the different factors gets out of whack. For example, if development is weighted too high, congestion relief loses out. So later in 2015, I fought to get the HB2/SmartScale congestion relief factor in project rating increased from 35 to 45 percent, making traffic-reduction a stronger priority.

In 2016, my legislation to protect kids getting on and off school buses (HB168) passed, as did legislation (HB1069) to protect drivers from unreasonable fees and penalties for unpaid tolls; another bill (HB181) increased Loudoun County’s representation on the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

This year I introduced a “Transportation Lockbox” resolution which proposes amending the Virginia Constitution to restrict use of monies appropriated for transportation – to be used for transportation. In spite of warnings based on prior failed attempts that this was just too difficult to get through the legislature without being ruined by amendments, with help from the business community and AAA, we did pass a clean resolution with solid bi-partisan support.

That brings us to the present and what I’m working on going forward. First, the Transportation Lockbox job isn’t done – it needs to pass the legislature again in the 2018 session and then be approved by voters in November 2018. Secondly, there is a huge transportation funding issue facing Northern Virginia, including Loudoun County: The dire need for improvements to the Washington Metro. Many leaders are saying a regional sales tax to fund improvements to Metro is necessary. That is not the way to go. It would burden my constituents with a new Metro tax even when they don’t use or benefit from the system. When Loudoun opted into extending Metro, station-area property tax districts were formed to offset costs. That same approach is the way to make those businesses and developers who are profiting pay whatever is not covered by fares.

Finally, I am excited to see these landmark reforms paying off. With support from local governments, we are making real progress in improving transportation here in the 33rd District. Upcoming projects in Loudoun include the Rt. 7/Rt. 690 interchange in Purcellville, the Route 7/Williams Gap Road turn lane, Battlefield Parkway between the Greenway and Rt. 15, Route 15 Interchange at Edwards Ferry/Fort Evans Road, paving a few high-volume gravel roads, replacing structurally deficient bridges, and more. VDOT is also studying the need to improve Eastbound Rt. 7 between Purcellville and Leesburg, and Rt. 15 North of Leesburg. Upcoming Rt. 7 interchanges at Battlefield Pkwy, Belmont Ridge Rd, and Ashburn Village Blvd will also help my constituents who travel to the east.

While there is still much to do, I’ve been working hard to get traffic moving with smart planning and careful use of funds, without raising taxes. We are seeing the good results.

Delegate Dave LaRock represents the 33rd House District, including parts of Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick Counties, and the towns of Leesburg (partial), Purcellville, Berryville, Lovettsville, Round Hill, Hamilton and Hillsboro. LaRock serves on the Transportation Committee, the Science and Technology Committee and the Education Committee. Dave and his wife, Joanne, have lived in Loudoun for 29 years, building a successful family-owned general contracting business. The LaRocks reside near Hamilton with Laura, Abby, and John, the youngest of their seven children.

1 comment

  1. bob ohneiser Esq. says:

    Mr. L, Glad you are excited about your accomplishments. Although I would not expect the most important issues to be quickly or easily resolved I expect someone who says they represent me to at least have started to work on them:
    1 Where is the return of Dulles Airport land to Loudoun so it can be properly assessed and taxed to help pay for LCPS schools and the cost of the metro?
    2 Where is the evidence that you did anything to slow down/reduce the composite index which extracts well over $200 million per year from what Loudoun should to support education from state sales tax?
    3 Where are you on record demanding VDOT at least do its own published minimum maintenance and provisioning for the roads it is responsible for in Loudoun?
    4 Where is there “ANY PLAN” to stop the worsening of traffic from interstate commutation through Loudoun via Route 15, Route 9 and Route 7?
    Please answer these obviously significant issues and get the ball toward progress actually rolling!
    Bob O__ Esq.

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