Wednesday, April 12, 2017

From the Archives: Meadowcreek Parkway and suggestions to improve transportation policy making

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on April 12, 2010. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Meadowcreek Parkway and suggestions to improve transportation policy making
April 12, 2010 6:10 PM MST

The Meadowcreek Parkway, which would link Rio Road in Albemarle County to the Route 250 Bypass and McIntire Road in Charlottesville, came a step closer to being built today.

Sean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow reports:

“The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released a new draft of a key document required for the approval of an interchange to connect the Meadowcreek Parkway to the U.S. 250 bypass.

“Because several historic and cultural resources will be affected by the interchange’s construction, the project is being reviewed by the FHWA as part a review process known as Section 106.”

Charlottesville Meadowcreek Parkway roads Rick Sincere Virginia transportation
The Meadowcreek Parkway was first proposed more than 40 years ago and has been a subject of public controversy in Charlottesville since then. In fact, candidates’ positions on the Meadowcreek Parkway have often been key issues in City Council races over the past four decades.

The long decision making process over the Meadowcreek Parkway may be instructive for how transportation policy in Virginia is devised and implemented.

In an exclusive interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner last Friday, Dr. Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation offered some suggestions for how Virginia can improve its process of transportation policy making:

“First of all,” Utt said, “we’ve argued, both to [Governor Bob] McDonnell and to anybody who would listen over the last several years,” that Virginia should “establish a performance-based measuring system in which congestion mitigation and travel time are the measures by which you choose projects, while at the same time holding harmless the regional distribution.”

That means, Utt explained, that investments “within the Northern Virginia transportation district [for example] would then have to be ranked by their impact on traffic congestion.”

The problem, he noted, is that “right now you don’t have that. A lot of these things are political. Senior Members of Congress get to get interchanges; influential businesses get interchanges. There are no standards by which we can judge one project from the other.”

This has an impact on budgetary as well as policy decisions, Utt concluded:

“We’ve argued that in a time of fiscal stringency, when a lot of worthy projects under any circumstances are being rejected for a lack of money, then it’s all the more important to prioritize projects by some measures that people can understand and agree on. I would say congestion, travel time, and safety would be those three key criteria.”

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