VDOT back in the crosshairs

The state’s transportation system could benefit from input from local and regional elected leaders and an overhaul in the way the central office of the Virginia Department of Transportation selects and manages projects.

Those were key among the recommendations in an audit done by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission presented on Tuesday to Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Among the findings in the audit report:

VDOT central office staff and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) disagree on the role of MPO input in the state allocation process.

The minimal role that MPOs have in the state’s allocation process is a missed opportunity for more informed decision making.

Performance-driven prioritization of projects and funding plays a limited role in selecting projects. This raises concerns among stakeholders about what priorities are currently being addressed in the Six-Year Improvement Program.

VDOT’s programming staff lack written processes to guide decisions and there is a lack of clarity around VDOT central office and district roles in programming.

VDOT projects that funding available for systems construction will continue to decline. The fiscally-constrained environment underscores the need for prioritization, transparency, and embracing the metropolitan perspective in decisions regarding project selection.

“Upon taking office we recognized that there were significant problems with how the Commonwealth planned transportation projects, allocated funds, and coordinated with metropolitan planning organizations,” McDonnell said in a statement. “The recently completed JLARC audit confirms many of these concerns. As governor, I intend to do everything necessary to improve the overall efficiency and transparency of every aspect of our transportation programs.”

Copies of the audit can be found at http://jlarc.virginia.gov.

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

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