County Voters to Decide on Road Funding

County Voters to Decide on Road Funding

Bond could generate $165 million for transportation improvements, but would that help?

Transportation — or the lack of it — is one of the most discussed problems in the Washington region. On Nov. 2, Fairfax County voters will have the chance to pass a $165 million bond that would be used to fund transportation projects.

County voters consider about four separate bond referendums totaling $325 million. Each of the four will pass or fail independently of the others. The transportation bond is for $165 million.

The business community sees this as an important opportunity to help congestion. "The transportation network in this region is not nearly enough," said Tony Howard, communications director for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. "The commonwealth of Virginia has done an exceedingly poor job of meeting its commitments."

The chamber has long viewed quality-of-life as one of its top issues, and traffic is one of the largest negatives in the region on that quality.

Of the bond total, Metro would receive $110 million to purchase items like rail cars and buses, and $5 million will be used for pedestrian improvements.

The funding that goes to Metro upsets Arthur Purves of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance. He said that Metro has a $1.5 billion shortfall in its capital funding, and questions how much Fairfax County residents should give toward that. "How much of it goes to the shortfall?" Purves asked.

Howard points out that the county, like other jurisdictions in the region, has an obligation to help support Metro. "They don't have the funding to do the job they've been given," Howard said. "It needs an infusion."

THE REMAINING $50 million will be used to implement the Board of Supervisor's transportation plan. The board will leverage its plan with funds it hopes to get from the state and federal governments said Charlie Strunk, chief of the Capital Projects Section for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.

This funding also has Purves upset. He does not think that the county ever gets enough funding from bonds. "It is a pittance. It is a show. It is a band-aid. You are better off rejecting the bond and forcing the supervisors to cut some of these social programs," he said.

Howard said that it is the supervisors who are to be commended for picking up the transportation funding which he says should be the state's responsibility. "They [the state government] have abdicated that responsibility. The Board of Supervisors should be applauded."

The criteria for choosing which projects could be funded with the bond, Struck said, was that they could be easily implemented. "These things have to be complete within four years," Strunk said.

If the bond does not pass, Strunk said, the projects will have to wait for the annual appropriations from the county budget. "Some of the smaller ones will just go away," Strunk said.

In the Fairfax area, only one of the more minor projects would be funded through the bond — a right turn lane on westbound Braddock Road at the intersection with Ox Road (Route 123). "We're going to pull it back to the George Mason University entrance at Roanoke [Circle]," Strunk said.l