Jeremy Borden has a lengthy article about the proposed closure of the western Albemarle VDOT maintenance facility in today’s Progress with several interesting new bits of information. There are 91 such closures proposed around the state.
At last week’s community meeting in Free Union, VDOT insisted that western Albemarle County’s would continue to be maintained at VDOT’s minimum level of service. They left out an important detail that an audience member had to point out — that VDOT’s minimum level of service is considerably lower than the current level of service. But the Progress has pointed out that the story is worse still. VDOT’s been reporting in their presentations that their maintenance standard is that any given portion of road should be within a 45-minute drive from a maintenance facility. Turns out they just came up with that — the standard was long 30 minutes, but they raised it in order to reduce the quality of service without having to admit that they were reducing the quality of service. Naturally, they’ve chosen not to point this out in their presentations. Of course, they’ve provided virtually no data to the public, so this isn’t unusual.
The Progress also points out that this money-saving plan doesn’t seem to be a money saving plan at all. They’ve thrown around large figures to demonstrate the cost savings, but don’t trumpet the point that that money will then have to go to pay private contractors to do the same work.
A final point in the article that left me a bit tweaked is Del. Rob Bell’s plan to hold a conference call between concerned residents and Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer. This whole VDOT outsourcing / shutdown plan has come about because many members of the General Assembly refuse to fund transportation at a level that will allow basic service to continue, even though a special session to accomplish just that was held this fall. Del. Rob Bell was one of the representatives who voted against the funding increases and for this outsourcing plan. Though it’s nice that he’s holding a conference call, the problem that so concerns him is of his own making. He could introduce a bill tomorrow that would fix this if he were genuinely sympathetic to his constituents’ concerns.
9pm Update: On a related note, Bob Gibson writes that Republicans are going to lose more seats if they don’t do something about transportation.
Harry F. Byrd came to power in the 1920s by championing fiscal commonsense in road funding, establishing the organization that became VDOT with The Byrd Road Law of 1932. It took more than sixty years for Republicans to regain the majority after that. How long will they be in the wilderness after they’re done screwing it up this time around?