The Washington metropolitan area ranks second in traffic congestion in the nation. Yet, year after year, relieving congestion is not the priority it should be. In the past 25 years, commuters in our area have gone from 16 hours of wasted time sitting in traffic – to 62 hours – almost a four-fold increase – the greatest increase in the nation! We are second only to Los Angeles in congestion. Congestion costs the average auto commuter $1,207 and the region $2.7 billion annually according to the 2009 Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute.
Virginia was the absolute last state to apply for transportation stimulus funds. Is this the action of an Administration that makes transportation a top priority? Economic growth in Northern Virginia depends on getting past old failed solutions and finding new paths to dedicated transportation funding. We are reaching a tipping point and failure is simply not an option. Like Congressman Frank Wolf, who has been the pre-eminent champion for transportation solutions in Northern Virginia, I am committed to being a tireless leader in fighting for better transportation solutions.
First, we need to make relieving congestion our top priority so that we do not stall our economic recovery and growth. To that end, I support and will champion legislation mandating a Bipartisan Commission tasked with developing a comprehensive transportation plan that reprioritizes transportation funding to address traffic congestion and economic growth, and is committed to changing the state transportation funding formula so urban areas like Northern Virginia get more than 17 cents on every transportation dollar we send to Richmond.
Second, I support utilizing Virginia energy resources and having a comprehensive energy strategy in Virginia that encourages wind, solar, alternative fuels, clean coal, nuclear power and offshore drilling. With appropriate safeguards to protect the environment, drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of Virginia should be part of a comprehensive energy policy to lower our energy costs and create jobs in Virginia. The royalties from drilling should be largely dedicated to creating a new dedicated revenue stream to finance our depleted transportation fund.
Third, I support an amendment to Virginia’s constitution to prohibit raiding of Virginia’s Transportation Trust Fund.
Fourth, I will push for accelerated use of the $3 billion in bonds authorized for transportation improvements.
Fifth, I support increasing the use of creative public private partnerships and promoting additional research into Intelligent Transportation systems to make our transportation system more efficient.
Finally, I will be a strong advocate for telework and I am committed to the goal of having 20% of the workforce taking advantage of telework options. Not only is this a solution for traffic congestion, but it also is a family friendly solution that provides more flexibility for today’s working men and women.