Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tax Holidays, U.S. 1 Funding, Paving & Potholes

The following appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette on August 5, 2010:

There are a few hot issues in state government that Mount Vernon residents
are no doubt interested in.

First, this weekend, August 6-8, is a “sales tax holiday” for “Back-to-School” items such as school supplies and clothing. The holiday does not apply to all items. It applies to school supplies that cost $20 or less and clothing that costs $100 or less. You can read further information including a specific list of qualifying items on my blog, The Dixie Pig, at scottsurovell.blogspot.com.

It is important to remember that the holiday also applies to all shoppers, not just families with children. Also, please make sure you patronize our locally-owned Mount Vernon businesses if you can, to keep your capital in our community.

Last week, we also found out that the $150 million in funds secured by Congressman Jim Moran did not clear a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate. I met with Congressman Moran last week and he assured me that this funding is still very much alive and that he will continue to fight to ensure that we get investment in U.S. 1 infrastructure in the near future to help address the coming traffic nightmare posed by the influx of traffic to Fort Belvoir resulting from base realignment (BRAC) changes.

Congressman Moran also assured me that the extension of the Metro subway Yellow Line from Huntington to Fort Belvoir is a long-term priority for him and he agrees that a Metro extension would do wonders to help bring about reinvestment, economic growth and traffic relief in the U.S. 1 corridor. I intend to do all I can to make this a reality within the U.S. 1 corridor.

As always, the biggest impediment right now is funding. The transportation situation in Northern Virginia is approaching a crisis. I have been hearing a lot this spring and summer from people concerned about the state of our roads. The winter’s heavy snows and this summer’s storms left pothole, curb, sidewalk and sign damage all over the area. There are communities that were on the 2010 paving schedule that were removed without notice.

VDOT has cut their staff by 30% in the last two years because of flat gas tax revenues and increasing maintenance expenses (The gas tax is a major source of transportation funds in Virginia). VDOT has told me that for all secondary road (roads numbered 600 or higher) paving has been postponed for one year and some pothole repairs cannot be done because of lack of funds. Fairfax County’s secondary road construction allocation has gone from $28 million in 2009-2010 to a little over $1,000 this year – that is not a typo – a little over $1,000. There are 2,500 lane miles of “poor” graded secondary roads in Fairfax County that need paving today. You only have to look at the surface of Fort Hunt Road to confirm this. We are also now ready to harvest hay in most medians due to cuts in funds for mowing.

The Governor chose to allocate part of this year’s limited excess revenues to transportation, but we have not yet seen how these funds will be spent. Our state government has avoided dealing with this transportation situation for too long. In the past, this neglect has meant lost time and money. It could soon result in significant property damage and injuries. Dealing with this situation will require leadership, collaboration and sacrifice. I hope we can have some real discussions soon about solving this crisis.

I hope to see you at the Farmers’ Market this summer or around the community. I hope you will continue to share your views and suggestions. Please email me at DelSSurovell@house.Virginia.gov or call at 571-249-44TH (4484). Also check my blog (scottsurovell.blogspot.com). It is an honor to serve as your delegate. I hope to continue to earn your trust.

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