Transportation authority plans vote on N. Va. projects


Northern Virginia commuters, like these traveling by car and Metro along the I-66 corridor, hope to benefit from new state money. (Karen Bleier/AFP-Getty Images)

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, newly empowered to spend money set aside by the state’s General Assembly this year, plans to hold a public hearing Wednesday night on a first round of projects, then vote on them.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the City of Fairfax’s city hall, 10455 Armstrong St. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. All speakers must be signed in by 6:30 p.m. Each speaker will have three minutes to address the authority.

The authority board members have spent the past few months building up and narrowing down a list of road, transit, biking and pedestrian projects to finance during the year that ends in July 2014. After this initial round of spending, the authority will focus on developing a six-year plan for financing projects. See the latest list of projects.

While the amount of money available to the authority is small in comparison to what the Virginia Department of Transportation can spend on projects, it could amount to about $187 million in just this first year.

During my July 15 online discussion, authority board members Martin Nohe of Prince William County and Christopher Zimmerman of Arlington took reader questions about the authority and transportation plans for Northern Virginia. The Washington Post published excerpts from the conversation on Sunday, including Nohe’s description of the authority’s mission:

One of the challenges that we face at the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is that we are generally seen as a fairly new organization, and many Northern Virginia residents are not familiar with who we are and what we do.

Having been tasked by the General Assembly to program and allocate the Northern Virginia component of the new transportation funding bill, we are in the process of developing an initial list of projects to be paid for with these new funds.

The authority’s primary goal is to select projects that will kick-start congestion relief.

 

All of the projects selected have been approved regionally in TransAction 2040 [the Northern Virginia transportation plan].

Much of the debate over projects focuses on whether they do enough for congestion relief and whether they are regional, rather than local, in their impact. Virginia’s new transportation revenue law allocates money to the Northern Virginia localities, as well as to the authority.

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Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Lori Aratani · July 23, 2013