VDOT has announced that they’ll be shutting down 87 maintenance facilities across the state, as proposed, except for four locations. One of those four is Free Union, which serves the bulk of western Albemarle. It appears that they spared any location with citizens who were paying enough attention and had the resources to fight back. Jeremy Borden explains in today’s Progress.
The final nail in the coffin for the proposed shut down of the Albemarle location was probably when Ann Mallek, of Earlysville, pointed out to Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer that the only viable route for snow plows to get from the Stanardsville maintenance facility to Earlysville required driving across the Advance Mills bridge — you know, the one that was shut down for many months this year because it’s crumbling, the one that has a three ton weight limit. This was news to VDOT, who was not aware of their own weight restriction, and apparently hadn’t even thought through how they were going to get their equipment from point A to point B.
There’s no reason to think that they thought through their plans any better for the doomed 87 locations across the state. Those facilities will be shut down gradually over the next year and a half in order to save money, saved money that VDOT will then give to private contractors to do the same work.
3 thoughts on “Albemarle VDOT Facility Spared”
While I’m pleased that the Free Union facility will remain in operation, the whole situation has highlighted the prospects of much of VDOT’s work being turned over to private contractors. Legislation requires the dismantling of much of our commonwealth’s road-building and maintenance operations. What’s not clear is whether there’s any requirement that these private contractors perform those functions at a service level equal to or better than VDOT currently performs and whether costs will be equal to or less than those of VDOT.
On a national level, a considerable portion of our military functions have now been turned over to corporate armies-for-hire. I fear for the future of our highways if this corporate take-over advances. As it stands, at least I can call my elected representatives if I don’t think the roads are being taken care of. I can just imagine waiting on hold to complain to the road contractor because my call “is important to us and wil be handled by the next available service representative”.
I don’t see why subbing it out should save any money. When VDOT handles plowing they are buying equipment and salt and other supplies at bulk costs, keeping overhead to a minimum.
There is no Commonwealth-wide plowing service. It’s all of these little outifts that consist of one guy with a truck. These guys need to build into the cost of their services the expense of their trucks, maintinence, salt and sand. All of which will cost them more money than the Commonwealth pays since they are buying in small quantities without any leverage. This will be reflected in what the government has to pay them to get the work done.
The most basic principles of economics suggest to me that this new ‘system’ cannot possibly accomplish the same level of service without ultimately costing us even more money than we have previously been spending to clear the roads in winter.
I agree with Jack’s analysis: We will end up paying more money for a lesser quality service.
This trend of privatization for major governmental functions disturbs me. My parents are aging in White Hall. I already worry about them living so far from town — in case of a medical emergency, could an ambulance get there and back inside 30 minutes? What about in bad weather?
The more the state outsources universal necessities like transportation, the more it becomes a dog-eat-dog system, with only those who can afford to slip an extra $100 to the guy with the plow, the freelance security guard, or the neighborhood paramedic to stay on some kind of “first-care list.” Emergency services, and that includes access to the roads on which those services travel, should not be privatized.
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