Roads action plan draws critics

The rhetoric from Gov. Bob McDonnell on transportation funding ramped up on Tuesday with McDonnell approving an action plan put together by the Virginia Department of Transportation after an independent audit criticized as having political overtones.

“VDOT met the deadline to develop a comprehensive action plan to improve its business practices and ensure that its past failures to fully utilize all available transportation funding do not reoccur. The VDOT action plan demonstrates forward-thinking, creative management techniques that we need to better leverage our available resources in order to address transportation needs around the Commonwealth. The citizens of Virginia expect better from their state government and we will meet those expectations,” McDonnell said today.

The action plan designates responsible entities for each category of transportation funding and establishes a process to select where the estimated $1.4 billion in unused state monies identified in the audit will go.

The exercise is much ado about nothing in the eyes of McDonnell administration critics.

“Setting aside the governor’s dubious claim that he ‘found’ money that everyone knew was there to begin with, this is a clear example of the problem with his administration to date. Breaking the piggy bank to spend these funds on one-shot projects is not a long-term strategy to fund transportation. We can’t audit VDOT every year hoping to find some more money in the couch cushions,” Democratic Party of Virginia chairman Dick Cranwell said.

A news release from the governor’s office offered some details on what will be done with the found monies – including designating $524 million to projects in the Six-Year Transporation Improvement Program and $200 million more going out to meet critical maintenance needs.

“Virginia’s transportation challenges require us to find better ways of doing business and managing the taxpayer’s dollars,” Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said. “This performance audit and implementation of VDOT’s action plan will have an immediate impact on our economy and a lasting effect on Virginia’s transportation infrastructure.”

“A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but when it comes to transportation, no amount of money will solve the crisis we’re in if it only comes in one-time increments. For example, just one new interstate interchange, such as the one on I-66 and Route 29 in Gainesville, cost the state $435 million,” Cranwell said.

“The people of Virginia did not elect Bob McDonnell to do what Jim Gilmore did and rob money from localities in order to proclaim that he is making progress on transportation,” Cranwell said. “They elected him to lead. Until he offers a long-term strategy for funding transportation projects every year, Virginians will continue to drive on roads and bridges that are increasingly unsafe, and businesses will continue to struggle to move their products and people over infrastructure that is inadequate to meet the demands of a modern economy.”

Details

Updates will be posted online for public review at www.VirginiaDOT.org and www.ctb.virginia.gov.

VDOT’s Action plan can be found here: http://www.virginiadot.org//news/resources/Statewide/Performance_Audit_Action_Plan.pdf

The full audit is available at: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/tempContent/CBH_Performance_Audit_Report-VDOT.pdf.

A summary of the audit is available at: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/tempContent/VDOT-Performance_Audit_Summary.ppt.

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


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