Joint Subcommittee Studying
Creation of a Northern Virginia Regional Transportation Authority
November 8, 2000, Annandale
Transportation Authorities in
The subcommittee received a briefing
on existing transportation authorities in other states that might be useful
as models for a transportation authority for Northern Virginia. Several
examples, most notably San Diego's, were cited and a number of lessons
drawn that are important in the Northern Virginia context:
- It takes time to bring revenues
on line and work out a means of allocating those revenues that all authority
stakeholders can support--at least three to five years.
- It is vital to work at building
a constituency to support the new authority (business organizations
can often be very helpful in this effort).
- Building a constituency must
be treated by the authority itself like a political campaign, not as
only an administrative operation.
- The authority must have multi-modal
responsibilities (in the Northern Virginia context, both highways and
- The authority needs to have
a dedicated source of substantial revenue (most likely some form or
either sales tax or income tax).
In San Diego, the transportation
authority is responsible for local streets, regionally significant highways,
and mass transit. This allows the authority to serve three possibly non-overlapping
constituencies, and make them all feel "included." A successful transportation
authority must have a specific agenda or projects and programs and make
sure the public is familiar with them. Failure to do this risks losing
Atlanta's regional transit authority
and regional commission are examples of an effort to bring about meaningful
and effective coordination of transportation, land use, and air quality
programs. Unfortunately, this situation was imposed on Atlanta when the
metropolitan area failed to meet its federally mandated air quality targets.
In discussion following the report,
Mr. Burton urged his colleagues to look seriously at the Atlanta experience,
warning that the Washington metropolitan area could very find itself in
the same air quality difficulties, and if it did, having more money to
build more roads would be useless, because additional highway construction
would be barred by the federal government. Other remarks included:
- Mayor Mason suggested that
Northern Virginia needs to address four transportation problems: (i)
a lack of adequate financial resources, (ii) an excessively complicated
regional transportation decision-making process, (iii) an unnecessarily
complicated operational structure in transportation agencies that serve
the region, and (iv) an inability to integrate policies affecting land
use, transportation, and air quality.
- Delegate McClure suggested
that the panel defer consideration of issues involving land use and
transportation maintenance and operation and concentrate, instead, on
transportation planning and expanded financial resources.
- Senator Mims suggested that
it was highly unlikely that the 2001 Session would act favorably on
any legislation providing increased funding for transportation or adjusting
existing allocation formulas to benefit Northern Virginia. He suggested,
instead, legislation that would provide statutory existence for an entity
similar to the TCC and give it real decision-making powers.
- Mr. Burton cautioned that
none of these suggested changes would be workable unless and until a
way could be found "around the federal Clean Air Act."
- Senator Howell and Delegate
McClure both thought it was important to take as much legislative action
as possible during the 2001 Session of the legislature to keep the issue
alive and to move forward wherever possible.
The joint subcommittee will meet
again on December 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the same location.
The Honorable Warren E. Barry,
Legislative Services contact:
Alan B. Wambold