Thursday, January 21, 2010

Working on a Special Transportation District

The following ran in the Mt. Vernon Gazette on January 21, 2010.

Wednesday, Jan. 13 marked the beginning of the 2009 legislative session. After our swearing in, I was assigned to the Cities, Counties and Towns Committee (CC&T) and the Science and Technology Committee.

Fairfax County frequently does not have the authority or flexibility it needs to make decisions and provide services to 1,000,000 people. The CC&T Committee will allow me to work with Fairfax County to provide it with the tools that it needs to maintain our quality of life in Fairfax County.

The Science and Technology Committee will put me in a position to continue to grow the Northern Virginia Technology Industry. This sector has probably been the number one contributor of high-paying jobs in Northern Virginia. I am hopeful that we can work to bring those kinds of jobs to the U.S. 1 Corridor and our community.

On Wednesday, I also introduced 17 pieces of legislation. The first bill I introduced was a resolution (HJ 119) authorizing a committee to study the creation of a special transportation district to fund improvements from U.S. 1 from Crystal City to Dinwiddie, Va. The General Assembly approved a similar district in 1989 to improve U.S. 58 from Norfolk to Abingdon. Since the construction of I-95, U.S. 1 has seen much improvement around it, but not to the road itself. I am hopeful that taking a regional approach to funding our main road will result in funding for improvements such as widening, rail, and transit.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board decides what road improvements are funded in Virginia. Currently, its regional members are required to live in transportation districts that followed 1930 congressional district lines. Population has changed a bit since then. Today, Northern Virginia has 1 of 11 votes, but 27 percent of the population. Three districts have 62 percent of the state’s population. I have introduced legislation requiring membership to be based upon present congressional district lines so that when transportation improvement decisions are made, Northern Virginia has its share of seats at the table.

I also introduced legislation on a number of other topics that I will discuss in future columns or you can locate more information on my Web site — I have also created a series of tools that you can use to comment on my legislation, comment on other issues or legislation, request a meeting, request a tour of the Capitol, or seek help on an issue with State Government. You can also follow my blog for my views on issues and events as they occur in Richmond.

Your input is very important to me as we move forward — please comment early and often!

On Saturday, Jan. 23, at 10:30 a.m., I will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting with Sen. Toddy Puller at the Mt. Vernon Government Center, 2511 Parkers Lane, to take your input and questions. Your input is very important to me as we move forward — please send your comments early and often!

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