The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Looming Transportation Showdown...

Some facts to consider going into the coming battle on transportation:

The dollar has 42% of the buying power it did in 1986. (the last year transportation funding was revised)

There are 34% more licensed drivers now than in 1986.

There are 53% more vehicles registered in Virginia now than in 1986.

Something else to think about here is that:
  1. Transportation is primarily funded by tax on motor vehicle fuel sales.
  2. As vehicles get better fuel economy they can travel more miles on less fuel... meaning that as road usage and wear increases, the money available becomes proportionally less.


    There has been an increase by 79% of miles traveled on Virginia's roads since... You guessed it... 1986.


In recent years Virginia has borrowed money to be able to build more than would be possible through traditional pay-as-you go funding

Paying the interest on these borrowed funds consumes an increasing share of $ DOLLARS $ available for construction:

  • In 1989, debt service required 1% of construction funds

  • In 2005, debt service required 14% of construction funds

  • In 2010, debt service will require 20% of construction funds

Now the House of Delegates proposes to add Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Debt...

As the transportation infrastructure ages... more maintenance is needed...

Virginia currently experiences a growth of over $50,000,000 per year in highway maintenance needs. (That's fifty million dollars a year)

Much maintenance of Virginia's road system has been continually left for later resulting in a significant backlog of upkeep waiting to be done.

By 2018, all construction funds will be required for maintenance...


  • At 3/03/2006 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice post Lowell! More folks need to have this explained to them in this matter!

  • At 3/03/2006 11:21 AM, Blogger Will Vaught said…

    I think you make a very clear point here: Virginia has a rapidlay increasing populaiton, and also, cars. More people + more cars = need for more roads and maitenence.

    The increasing reliance on debt (as you point out), in oder to finance road improvments/contruction is scary. All we are doing is assuring that future generations will be saddled with loads of debt because we didn't have the "pelotas" to make tough decisions.

    Sound so very familair!

    Good post Lowell!

  • At 3/03/2006 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The "American Dream" is catching up with us and turning into a mildly disturbing bad dream. If we don't make some fundamental changes it will indeed become a nightmare.

    All of your points are on target. But there is another factor coming into play.

    The U.S. economy, indeed the world economy, requires energy to grow or even to sustain itself. Now, we are seening China and India, two of the most populus nations on the face of the earth competing very effectively in the world economy. They are also competing for "our" oil.

    The natural result is that oil prices will continue to climb no matter what anybody does. Also, we need to remember that oil is not a renewable energy source. When it's gone, it's gone.

    What does this mean for Americans or Virginians? We better hope that technological and policy advancements will lessen our dependency or at least rate of burn down of oil reserves. Big changes are on the forseeable horizon.

    The U.S. "love affair" with the automobile will eventually become unaffordable for many Americans. Not only will the gas guzzling SUVs be a thing of the past, the very idea of universal personal motor vehicle transportation on demand will change.

    How does the idea of "walkable" communities grab you?

  • At 3/03/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger Virginia Centrist said…

    Lowell -

    You sound like you read the regular dispatched from the NTVA.

    They make some good points...

  • At 3/03/2006 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is great, but still, i'd rather our delegates focus on more vital and pressing issues like gay marriage, or sex clubs. we have to keep our priorities in order.

  • At 3/04/2006 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If a solution to this funding crisis is not resolved at the state level, then the burden will ultimately be shifted to the local level. And this will mean higher property taxes - which will hit citizens harder in their pockets.

  • At 3/04/2006 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bottom line: Somebody has got to pay for it and guess who it is? It doesn't matter if it comes from Federal, State or Local taxes or some kind of public/private partnership finance plan. It is you and me who always pick up the check. Lets just hope that we start getting a little more smart about how we deal with problem and figure out more cost effective ways to move people and commerce.

  • At 3/06/2006 8:03 AM, Blogger I'm Not Emeril said…

    The Virginia Blogger's Carnival is up at Im Not Emeril. Go now and check out some of Virginia's other great blogs.

  • At 3/12/2006 10:30 PM, Anonymous Brad said…

    Why aren't people like you running for public office? You have this stuff down!


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