The Cuccinelli Transportation Plan
Empowering Commuters And Localities
Virginia is in the dawn of a new age in transportation with the development of innovative technologies that provide smart decision making for transportation problems. It is time to take a new approach to transportation—an approach that is driven by the numbers and focused on efficiency and careful stewardship of our taxpayers’ dollars. Such an approach will identify transportation problems, rank them by priority, anticipate the return on investment, and review and evaluate the ongoing projects to ensure they are on track. Performance targets should be the primary investment drivers— not political earmarks.
As Governor, I will work with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the General Assembly to implement a performance-based transportation system built around a Congestion Matrix Database System that will put more of Virginia’s transportation decisions in the hands of localities and the public.
1. Establish The Virginia Congestion Matrix Database
As Governor, I will call for the establishment of trigger mechanisms—set at the local level— that quantitatively establish project priorities based on traffic congestion and road capacity. Such a system will provide transparency for the public and local governments and facilitate planning for capital construction and maintenance. The data will also assist VDOT in reclassifying Virginia’s roads, which are currently classified under an archaic structure.
The matrix would measure a number of equally weighted variables, including population, volume of licensed drivers, volume of automobiles, volume of motor carriers, vehicle miles travelled, number of businesses, roadway incidents, response time and infrastructure age and condition. Using the information, the system will rank the top 100 most congested roadways in the Commonwealth and list them on VDOT’s public Dashboard so that the public can begin planning future projects.
I believe a state-of-the-art congestion matrix database system can be established in six months.
2. Empower Virginia Localities By Decentralizing Our Transportation System
One of the fundamental reasons why our state has been plagued by transportation problems for decades is an undeniable lack of decision making and buy-in at the local level. While our counties do have an option to take responsibility for secondary roads, they have little incentive to do so because of regulatory burdens and costs.
In 2001, the General Assembly enacted what is commonly known as the “Devolution Statute.” The statute provides that the board of supervisors in any county that wishes to assume responsibility for any portion of the state secondary system of highways may ask the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner to give the requesting county that authority. A local government, furthermore, may send a resolution to the VDOT Commission signaling their intent to take responsibility for the secondary roads and begin the process of devolution.
VDOT’s devolution department has conducted several studies, which indicate that under current state law, localities have neither the funding nor the infrastructure in place to take on ownership of the roads. With these concerns in mind, my administration will implement a phased-in approach to devolution. While local governments will eventually be given more control over individual transportation projects, they will have to abide by VDOT’s statewide standards for safety and procurement to ensure the roads are uniformly constructed and maintained and that contracting for road construction and maintenance is fair and consistent across jurisdictions.
Core Goals of the Cuccinelli Devolution Plan:
1. Place decision making for project identification, funding, and implementation for transportation in the purview of locally elected officials to make government more responsive, transparent, and accountable.
2. Dedicate existing funding streams to localities for transportation without imposing a statewide tax increase.
How we’ll get there:
1. The Commonwealth will first partner with counties with the greatest populations (250,000 and above) and financial resources. Cities already own their secondary roads and receive funding from the state to assist with maintenance and construction. Counties at the top of the list would be Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Chesterfield. A population floor of 100,000 would be established for small counties that neither have the personnel or the resources to maintain secondary roads at this time. As they grow and approach the 100,000 line, they will be able to prepare for the transition.
2. The Commonwealth will send counties funds equal to those currently used for secondary roads through block grants and allow those counties to raise additional funds if needed on their own. My administration will replace the current city-county formula with a new formula based on the results of the matrix system identified above that would take into account road usage and economic development.
3. The Commonwealth will offer localities the option of leasing the use of large equipment for construction or snow removal or turn over some of these equipment assets to cover initial capital costs.
4. The Commonwealth will turn over land assets within their jurisdictions that have been acquired by VDOT for secondary roads to the localities. The localities are well equipped to make land use decisions. The localities will be better able to expedite the appropriate resources and permitting for road construction or increasing capacity.
5. Work with VDOT and the General Assembly to implement a phase-in option to eliminate state funding for new secondary roads, thereby avoiding an unfunded maintenance mandate. The state will establish a date certain that it would no longer accept newly constructed subdivision roads for maintenance.
6. My administration will phase in the remaining counties by initially devolving services—such as traffic lights, signs and rest areas— in anticipation of providing title to existing secondary roads. The Commonwealth would provide current funding to counties to cover the costs of the services through transitional grants that would allow the county to develop the infrastructure and mechanisms to provide maintenance services and eventually take title to the secondary roads so this will not be an unfunded mandate. Some counties will be wary of taking over secondary roads that are deteriorated or have been behind schedule for maintenance. As an option, the state could bring the roads up to standard on schedule and turn over the title upon completion as part of phasing in the ownership to localities.
7. Human resources from VDOT or positions with funding will need to be transferred to some localities. As noted in the 2011 George Mason University study, “A second important consideration is the employment associated with state responsibility for secondary roads. In some counties in the Commonwealth, jobs with VDOT are an important part of the economic base. Policy options that would shift such jobs out of the state system into county government or the private sector would need to include appropriate transitional provisions.” Some of the positions turned over to the counties would need to include qualified personnel who have experience in compliance with state and federal regulations. State employees can be allocated to the counties.
3. Reduce Virginia’s Many Transportation Bureaucracies
As Governor, my administration will execute a comprehensive financial audit of Virginia’s transportation bureaucracies to determine what each entity does and ensure that taxpayers are receiving the best return on investment possible, eliminating numerous wasteful parts of our bureaucracy.
4. Make Carpooling Accessible And Practical For More Virginians
Unique to the Richmond – Washington corridor is the I-95 HOV lanes that carry an extraordinary volume of carpooling passengers during rush hour using an organic “slug” system. My administration will take a number of steps to encourage more carpooling across the Commonwealth:
1. Add more commuter parking throughout the Commonwealth.
2. Partner with the United State Department of Transportation to establish carpool stations in the District of Columbia and across Virginia.
3. Work with VDOT to set up more “van pools” to job centers. (Currently, vanpooling is dramatically underutilized despite a significant demand in Virginia given our massive traffic flows between counties to critical job centers, often military or governmental in nature.)
5. Wallops Island: Bring In Barge Access To Increase Satellite And Payload Deliveries
The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority has a license to operate a commercial spaceport co-located at the NASA flight facility at Wallops Island. With 16,000 launches, Wallops Island is enjoying considerable success with its public-private partnership with satellite transportation. Increasing barges to bring cargo to the island will help ease the burden from Routes 13 and Route 175.
6. Reform Size And Weight Permitting System
The Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for issuing overweight permits for all trucks in Virginia. Localities also have the ability to issue overweight permits for roads within their jurisdictions. Too often, however, discrepancies emerge whereby truckers— operating with a valid Virginia weight permit—are ticketed by localities for being overweight.
To rectify this problem, I will work with the General Assembly to modify the state code to make it clear that DMV-issued weight permits supersede those issued by localities. My administration will also authorize the Commonwealth Transportation Board or VDOT to allocate a portion of road damage fees directly to affected localities. This change will promote business and commerce in Virginia by reducing burdens on the trucking industry.
7. Enhance Virginia’s Passenger And Freight Rail Systems
Passenger: As Governor, I will support level funding.
1. Complete 11-mile segment of 3rd track in Quantico.
2. Await comprehensive study and total cost analysis of Hampton Roads light rail projects before determining funding allocations.
3. Request expedited federal environmental reviews on all rail projects.
Freight: As Governor, I will continue to support efforts to improve freight-rail capacity.
Virginia has participated in funding the rail corridors for freight movement. Norfolk Southern has two rail corridors; one of them – the Heartland Corridor – is set to complete its double stack ability from Norfolk to Chicago. This type of capacity shortens the amount of time it takes to deliver goods. In New York, for instance, industry and businesses do not need to ship to the Midwest – they have the population to use products right there. To be competitive with other states on the East Coast, the Port of Virginia has to be better prepared to move freight out of the region more quickly, particularly in light of our significant opportunity with the expansion of the Panama Canal.