David Foster: Virginia transportation planning is biased toward highways

In an opinion piece in the Roanoke Times, David Foster, Executive Director of Rail Solution makes a good case that the current Virginia transportation plan is not balanced in its treatment of various modes of transportation.  In addition, the plan does not properly assess the advantages and disadvantages objectively, nor the impacts of highway emphasis.  Foster says that the new process for determining elements of the plan is better, but has shortcomings: “Without much doubt the new HB-2 process is an improvement over the older political pork-barrel method of allocating transportation funding. However, a strong highway bias may still prevail that calls for continued vigilance as the new system is put in use.  One of the Guiding Principles of the Virginia HB-2 ranking process is: “Must work for all modes of transportation.” Yet if you walk through the ratings proposed, scoring a hypothetical rail or transit project, it will rank low.”

Foster goes on to question how various modes of transportation can get a fair evaluation when the criteria for evaluation are often just about highways.  Here are a couple of examples from his extensive list:


Although 30 percent of the points relate to freight efficiency, most all of the award criteria relate to highways and there is no provision for considering relative efficiency of different modes.”



While generally good, these evaluations focus on local policies and regional plans. Rail projects tend to impact an entire corridor, which may preclude maximizing a project “fit” within particular localities. For example, if we were to propose a light rail project connecting Roanoke and the New River Valley, it would not be consistent with anyone’s comprehensive plan.”

Read more about this in the Roanoke Times article linked below.

Link to Dave Foster’s Opinion in Roanoke Times


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