Gov. Bob McDonnell has re-opened the can of worms that is Northern Virginia transportation by indicating he will remove the transportation tax from the price of gasoline and increase the Virginia sales tax. He wants to inflict a new tax on all residents of the state to satisfy the demands of drivers (the majority of whom drive alone), real estate developers (who get free roads leading to fresh property), and road building companies (shovel ready stimulus handouts) without solving the real problem. Norther Virginia has historically built first and planned later.
This is evident in the nightmare of development along Route 50 from I-66 to South Riding which is an embarrassment of ugly architecture, over-building, excessive traffic lights, trashy strip malls, and lack of trees and green space. If Bob McDonnell gets his way and builds new roads, including the always dreamed of “outer beltway,” you can certainly expect more of the same. Why is it too much to ask that Virginia plan communities and public transportation first and build new roads as a last resort? Design public bus and train systems that take people quickly where they want to go without having to get in a car. Expand Metro.
Tell developers to pay for and install roundabouts in front of subdivisions rather than traffic lights. Take pride in communities and think about how to design space that lets people walk to stores rather than drive. When I pick up friends from out of town at Dulles and have to drive through the sprawl that has become Fairfax and Loudoun, they can’t believe what a mess it is and wonder why anyone would want to live there. It is a sad result of what could have been done if someone with vision had planned for the future instead of just getting a permit and building cookie cutter communities with poor infrastructure.
If the governor wants to raise more revenue for transportation, let’s use most of it for improving mass transit for getting people out of cars instead of using the same old road solutions from the 1970s.