Nov. 30, 2013

Commonwealth of VirginiaLast night I represented RAIL Solution at the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) hosted public meeting  for the Salem District.  These hearings are held twice a year in the various VDOT operational districts across the state. About 50 or more people were in attendance in the Northside High School auditorium in Roanoke County.

For the first hour we mingled among lots of storyboards on easels.  I got to spend time with Kevin Page from Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), an always-interesting fellow.  He asked to be remembered to the folks at RAIL Solution.  I also had a chance to speak with some bicycle advocates and get an update on their campaign to make taking bicycles on Amtrak trains easier.

I also learned from the Intermodal Office representative that the Virginia State Multimodal Freight Plan draft will be released for public comment tomorrow. (PDF here)

I had signed up to speak when I arrived, and was near the top of the list for the 7 pm public meeting, following the usual retinue of public officials pushing for this or that highway project in their district.  I noted that we had spent a long time seeking dedicated funding for transportation in Virginia, and now with HB2313 (Road to the Future Bill) the challenge had become how to be sure the windfall would be spent wisely and not all on highways.  I made my usual plea for balanced transportation spending, with fair shares for rail, transit, greenways, bikeways, and an emphasis on connectivity across modes.

I noted that Virginia still, in spite of its widespread lip service to intermodalism, was still promoting vast, costly highway projects that were unneeded and that the public don’t even want, such as U.S. 460 east from Petersburg, and urged VDOT and DRPT to make intelligent planning and analysis across all modes ahead of construction decisions a high priority.  I left behind a copy of the comments RAIL Solution submitted in June on the I-81 widening between Christiansburg and Daleville, with a new cover page.  Repetition never hurts.

Dave Foster, Executive Director, RAIL Solution

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A. L. (Pete) Lotts, Director, Rail Solution, Contributing to site as Pete Lotts
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David Foster, Executive Director, Rail Solution, Contributing to site as David Foster
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Robinson Foster, Director, Rail Solution, Contributing to site as Robinson Foster