Mount Vernon Letter: Unconvinced On Re-paving

Mount Vernon Letter: Unconvinced On Re-paving

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

In the April 7 Gazette, my letter was published in which I disagreed with the re-paving of the streets in my neighborhood, stating that it did not appear to be essential at this time and that the money could be better spent on other transportation infrastructure. In last week's Gazette, one of my neighbors disagreed with me and directed readers to the blog operated by Senator Surovell in which he supposedly outlined the reasons why the re-paving was "long overdue." I visited that blog, and predictably, Senator Surovell used the issue as an opportunity to bash the General Assembly for refusing to raise Virginia's gas tax. He also stated that over 70 percent of secondary roads in Northern Virginia "were rated to have substandard pavement quality."

This week, I telephoned VDOT and spoke to the official in charge of the re-paving project which is identified by the number PM9S15. He informed me that the re-paving contract has cost taxpayers $6.5 million. He explained to me how the decision is made which roads need to be re-paved. Essentially, a special vehicle is driven over the roads and it takes data that VDOT officials use to determine which roads are in need of re-paving.

In my opinion, this is an example of "garbage in, garbage out." I don't need a computer to tell me which roads are in need of repair. I can observe cracks, undulations, and potholes. Perhaps the vehicle VDOT uses to make these determinations should be re-programmed.

The official also informed me that a typical road project of multiple lanes costs $1 million/mile. This means the project now being undertaken could have improved over six miles of roads more important to easing the commute of taxpayers.

Road paving contracts are created by paving contractors and are approved by government officials who spend money appropriated by politicians who are responsible for responsibly spending our tax dollars. Many years ago, I obtained a U.S. patent for a paving contractor in Northern Ohio who was responsible for re-paving roads over a wide area. The patent covered a paving machine. His Rolls Royce and mansion attested to the high profitability to paving contractors of this line of work. One wonders if the approved bid was closely enough scrutinized.

I reiterate my opinion that much of the work now being done was not necessary and repair of occasional potholes and cracks could have freed up our tax dollars to be more effectively spent on larger transportation infrastructure needs.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon