How Much Have We Lost?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Using Money Wisely? $1.4 Billion for 5,500 Vehicles

Today's Washington Post has an article about a new bypass for U.S. 460

The new toll road is being constructed pursuant to the state's Public-Private Partnership Act and does not require legislative approval.  According to the Washington Post, taxpayers' portion of the road is being funded as follows:
  • $250 Million from the Virginia Port Authority (which McDonnell recently fired the entire board and replaced with his own appointees);
  • $216 Million from state bonds rated BBB- (one notch above junk status); and
  • $80 Million from Virginia's brand new Transportation Infrastructure Bank in case toll revenue underperforms.
It was proposed twice and no private entity would make a bid.  After the state put this amount of money on the table, a private entity finally made a bid to construct the road by 2016, charge tolls, and earn a profit.

However, what struck my eye about this project was the amount of vehicles expected to use it - 5,000 to 6,000 per day.  In other words about $254,545 per daily vehicle trip
Back in November 2010, I wrote an article about the then proposed new Costco on U.S. 1.  You can read it here:


I wrote about how U.S. 1 near Sherwood Hall Lane currently carries 50,000 cars per day on that stretch of U.S. 1 and is perenially congested during both rush hours and on weekends due to the bottleneck.  It is in desperate need of widening. 

The transportation analysis of the Costco project projected that it would add 4,500 cars per day to U.S. 1 (see page 10, para. 5).  The County was able to get the developer to construct a few turn lanes as part of the rezoning process.

The widening of U.S. 1 from I-495 to Fort Belvoir is projected to cost about $800 million.  Assuming 50,000 cars per day (it's higher than that on portions) that comes out to about $16,000 per daily vehicle trip.

Just to recap - the state has authorized a $1.4 billion including nearly $500 million of taxpayer funds to service 5,000 to 6,000 cars, while a stretch of road with 50,000 trips, that services a rapidly growing military base and a new store that generates 4,500 new vehicle trips can't even get $1-2 million studies funded for widening. 

No wonder why Northern Virginian's feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.

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