How Much Have We Lost?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Column: VDOT Still has a Huge Amount of Catch Up

The following appeared in the Stafford and Potomac Local on May 25, 2015.
VDOT Still has a Huge Amount of Catch Up

As the weather warms and summer nears, we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia.  Several paving projects are coming to eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County in the 36th District. 

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VDOT plans to pave I-95 from Neabsco Creek to Smoketown Road, all of VA-123 and Old Bridge Road from VA-123 to Minnieville.  Cardinal Drive will get a new surface from U.S. 1 to Minnieville as well.  Southbridge will see new blacktop in on Wayside Lane, Pine Ridge Boulevard and several surrounding streets.  VDOT will pave the entire length of Joplin Road from U.S. 1 to Bristow Road and all the streets of the entire town of Quantico.  Main Street (U.S. 1) between Curtis Drive and Quantico Gateway Drive through Dumfries is also scheduled to be repaved. 
Many of Stafford County's secondary roads are in better condition than streets in other areas since many are newer.  In northeastern Stafford County, VDOT will resurface half a dozen streets around Dorothy Lane and Anita Drive in Garrisonville with all of Stefaniga Road.

Legislature Addressed Road Neglect
Over 70% of Northern Virginia's secondary roads, roads numbered over 600, have been rated as having substandard pavement quality and despite my efforts, the state legislature has not met the challenge.  From 1987 to 2013, the Virginia General Assembly refused to raise Virginia’s $0.17/gallon gas tax to even keep up with inflation.  As salaries, the cost of materials and infrastructure needs all increased, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had to prioritize funds for other critical maintenance needs.  As a result, VDOT limited grass mowing, prioritized primary and interstate highway maintenance and curtailed secondary road paving.  Deficient road pavement has been a consistent, frequent complaint since I have been in office these last six years.
In 2013, the legislature replaced the retail fixed gas tax with a wholesale percentage gas tax plus an overall sales tax supplement, steps which restored some roads and maintenance funding .  We also passed a series of local taxes to fund transportation construction, but these taxes do not apply to Stafford County which is in the Fredericksburg Transportation District.  Last year, VDOT started a major phase of paving in our communities as the direct result of this infusion of funds.
VDOT tries to bid out paving projects based on need and geographic location.  Contractors may provide  competitive bids when projects are conducted all within compact areas.  This is why VDOT usually does not repave random streets miles apart (there are some exceptions).  Also, typically, not but always, roads in entire neighborhoods tend to deteriorate at the same rate.     
If you would like to see a more detailed map including your specific street you can go to my online newsletter, The Dixie Pig at scottsurovell.blogspot.com or you can go to  www.virginiaroads.org.
I am pleased that VDOT is finally taking steps to properly maintain our roadways, but VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup ahead.  Nearly every secondary road in Woodbridge still has substandard pavement quality and after this summer, and over 50 percent  of Virginia's  36th Senate District’s roads will still  need  repaving.  You can find a map of the 36th Senate District at https://scottsurovell.net/district-36.
If you review the entire Northern Virginia map at www.virginiaroads.org, you can see that we are very lucky to be getting  attention this summer given the massive backlog.  I am working to make our area a continuing priority after this year.
Our experience over the last two decades is a basic lesson in the consequences of starving basic government services.  If we do not keep our revenues commensurate with our needs, from schools to health clinics to roads, infrastructure and quality of life will suffer.  In 2013, with bipartisan support, the state legislature addressed the transportation revenue shortfall and you are now seeing the results.  These steps can likely save your family an alignment or a tire or two. 
If you have any questions or complaints, please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org.  It is an honor to a state delegate and I look forward to earning your vote as your State Senator.

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