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Letter: Status Quo of Gridlock

To the Editor:

In the March 22, 2012 article entitled “Hyland Calls For Meal Tax,” the supervisor correctly notes that money is needed for schools and roads. Fairfax County cannot continue to rely only upon the real-estate tax for revenue. The Mount Vernon Visioning Task Force, Transportation Committee, recommended that Fairfax County adopt and impose the transportation impact fee that the Virginia Assembly authorized in 1989.

Over 20 years ago, the Virginia Assembly authorized Fairfax County “to assess and impose impact fees on new development to pay all or part of the cost of reasonable road improvement that benefit the new development” (Va. Code Section 15.2-2319). However, Fairfax County elected officials chose not to adopt a zoning ordinance that would allow the collection of reasonable costs for much needed road improvements that would benefit a new development.

The inaction of the Board of Supervisors in the early 1990s has left us with the legacy of congestion on US Route 1 in the Mount Vernon District and other main roads in Fairfax County. The County continues to allow development, such as the Wal-Mart at Kings Crossing, without any new transportation infrastructure. This extends to Phase II of Wal-Mart at Kings Crossing where the already gridlocked area will receive more stores and more traffic without the developer contributing toward the needed extended or dual dedicated left turn lane(s) at that location.

Over 26 states, as of Feb. 26, 2011 (when I researched this matter), have laws that assess transportation fees to developers. In Virginia, Stafford County agreed with the conclusion reached by Virginia Tech: it would bring in revenue for needed transportation infrastructure. US Route 1 in Stafford County transformed from a two-lane country road to an expressway with a boulevard in between the north and south travel lanes using the revenue brought in under the Transportation Impact Fee. Stafford County also assesses developers using the proffer system for schools and other non-transportation items, and Stafford County receives more than double the amount in proffers per additional dwelling than Fairfax County does for its re-zoned developments.

Elected officials, businesses and residents are either part of the solution or part of the problem. Doing nothing does not contribute to our revenue needs and leads to the continuation of the status quo, such as creating more gridlock due to development without transportation improvements.

Catherine M. Voorhees