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Leaders Vent about Roads

Chamber Hosts Forum for Business Leaders, Officials

John B. Wood’s 32-mile commute to work once took 32 minutes. Now, it takes him an hour and 20 minutes to get to his office.

Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation, an information technology security company in Ashburn. He is also a member of Chamber of Commerce.

Woods spoke to other local business leaders and elected officials at the chamber’s Virginia Legislative Issues breakfast, Monday, Dec. 4, at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg.

"What’s on my mind?" Woods said. "Congestion. It affects everybody. No matter what race, creed, color or religion. It affects how we work."

SEN. MARK HERRING (D-33) was the first elected official to address the only issue brought to the breakfast table.

With weeks left until the 2007 legislative session in Richmond, the senator said he is gearing up to make transportation his "top priority." However, he is not willing to take money from the general funds to pay for needed transportation projects.

"It’s just not the right thing to do," he said.

With that said, wherever the money comes from, the projects need to be big.

"The projects need to be significant, long term and sustainable," Herring said.

The senator was joined by Northern Virginia Delegates Robert Marshall (R-13), Joe May (R-33), Tom Rust (R-86), David Poisson (D-32) and Chuck Caputo (D-67) at the breakfast.

May agreed with Herring.

If the traffic problem in Northern Virginia does not get fixed, it will start to affect businesses, he said. He encouraged business leaders to allow their employees to work from home during peak travel times early in the morning and at around 5 p.m.

He suggested moving technology businesses down south.

POISSON, who just completed his freshman year in the House of Delegates, took his family to Southern Virginia this summer. He noticed something.

"They have wonderful roads," he said. "They have wonderful roads because nobody’s on them."

The delegate encouraged business leaders to reach out to the southern half of the state. While transportation projects desperately need to be funded due to heavy traffic along Routes 7, 28, 50 and 606, the delegate said he dislikes raising toll fees.

He said tolls feel like taxes, but they only apply to a certain group of people.

"We need to start recognizing we are all part of one commonwealth," he said.

He encouraged local businesses to make more use of the south’s agricultural products.

"We need to find a way to value their contributions to the commonwealth," Poisson said. "Take the tension out of the room."

THE DELEGATES agreed that they need to reach out to the southern half of the state in order to work together to fund a growing transportation problem in the north.

The Northern Virginia representatives said they are working hard to get transportation funding approved by the House of Delegates' Finance Committee in a few weeks. Then, it will go to the floor of the House for final approval.

"The finance committee is first base to any legislation," Caputo said.

"Virginia can’t wait."

THE BREAKFAST was part of the chamber’s Policy Maker Series, where the organization brings local policy makers to a forum for business owners to ask questions specific to Loudoun County.

For more information on the chamber, visit www.loudounchamber.org.