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BOS, state lawmakers tackle transportation

Supervisors, Stuart and Pollard engage in funding summit
The Westmoreland Supervisors met last week with Virginia Senator Richard Stuart and Delegate Albert Pollard for the purpose of soliciting creation of a revenue stream dedicated to road im-provement needs.
At the end of the day the only accomplishment was the exchange of frustrations, Pollard’s distri-bution of dismal statistics detailing the state’s diminished revenues, and Stuart’s certainty that state lawmakers lack the will to introduce any new tax in the currently distressed economic envi-ronment.
Board Chairman Woody Hynson’s extemporaneous opening comments set the tone for every-thing that followed in the exchange of June 16.
“I think we all know what the problems are,” Hynson told the Senator and Delegate. “We hear daily from our constituents and we consider it our duty to warm you all up on what we hear from the 17,000 people in this county every day.

“The money for roads has kept drying up and drying up and no one in Richmond has looked for other ways to fund road improvements since the 1970s. During that time the number of cars has increased and so has the mileage they get on a gallon of gas.
“Paid highways or toll roads are fine in urban areas, but how would we ever have paid for the new bridge in Kinsale if we had to collect the revenue from the cars that cross that bridge?
“Rural roads don’t have the traffic to support the toll alternative,” Hynson said. “The roads we have in Westmoreland County could never pay for themselves that way.”
Hynson expressed satisfaction that the issue of funding for road improvement and the Northern Neck’s representation in Virginia’s General Assembly “isn’t partisan. We have a Democrat,” he said of Delegate Pollard, “and our Senator is a Republican.”
“You’re correct that we’re not partisan,” the Senator concurred.
“Really,” Hynson continued, “I feel no one has wanted to ask the question of where the money for road improvements is going to come from. There isn’t anyone who would want to raise the tax on gasoline when facing an election.”
The Board Chairman recognized the Department of Transportation’s Northern Neck Residency Administrator, Sean Trepani, who attended the supervisors’ meeting with the district’s state lawmakers.
“It isn’t fair,” Hynson stated. “Every month [Trepani] attends our meetings and we throw rocks at him. Everyone knows that isn’t right, but how can anyone expect the state’s highway system to continue to serve transportation needs when the problem of identifying funding streams really hasn’t been addressed since the 1970s?”
Hynson drew from his knowledge of 20th century history when he recalled a federal road con-struction initiative from the 1950s that served as a major impetus for large-scale economic de-velopment initiatives.
“When General Eisenhower returned from Europe after the war, he remembered what he had seen and learned in Germany and pushed for an interstate highway system. That interstate high-way system was probably the greatest thing that could have happened for creating growth in America.
“We need help right now with our Westmoreland County roads,” Hynson concluded. We need to figure out something we can do, because there seems to be plenty of money for the roads in Northern Virginia and in the Hampton Roads area compared to what we’re getting here.
“The kind of traffic we have on Route 3 most of the year isn’t going to support a toll. Toll sup-ported highways aren’t a solution here. I just hope there is someone who can come up with some revolutionary ideas. That’s what it’s going to take to get a handle on funding the kind of road improvements that we already need.”

Betsy Ficklin

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