Conservation, smart-growth groups oppose McDonnell roads plan

A coalition of conservation and smart-growth groups are saying today that they oppose Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $4 billion transportation plan on financing and spending grounds.

“The plan is anything but conservative on two counts. It involves too much borrowing and debt reminiscent of what got our households and nation into trouble over the last decade, and it will not address the underlying origins of our traffic congestion,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

McDonnell is pushing a plan largely based on borrowing through public bonds to jumpstart roads projects in the Commonwealth. Critics on the right and left have raised issue with the proposal to borrow against future federal gas-tax revenues that lies at the heart of the plan.

Roger Diedrich, the transportation chair of the Virginia Sierra Club, noted that Virginia has gone this route before, and that it took years for the Commonwealth to pay back the bonds.

“We shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past by borrowing and spending our future federal gas tax revenues,” Diedrich said.

Chris Miller, president of the Piedmont Environmental Council, is critical of the effort to begin a spate of new construction with the $3.5 billion backlog in structurally deficient bridges, deficient pavement, aging Metro and other transit systems.

“Many of these projects would reignite the land speculation that got us into trouble in the first place,” Miller said.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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