Cumberland Thrown Under The Transportation Omnibus

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Governor McDonnell's Omnibus Transportation Plan?

Just one question:

Will this region's transportation needs be a passenger on that “omnibus” or will we just be taken for a ride? Okay, that's two questions, but it looks to me like Cumberland is being thrown under the bus, again, with just two projects totaling $84,000 for an entire county. Typical. And out of $4.4 billion statewide.

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Historically, the funding for our road needs too often seems to disappear down a dead-end. Look around Prince Edward, Buckingham and Cumberland and there are road needs just around too many corners. The state's transportation dollars too often seem to lose their way or perhaps it's just that the legislative homing instinct engrained in Richmond sends them flapping their wings in other directions.

Yes, Virginia has transportation needs in every nook and cranny of the state and one can argue persuasively that Northern Virginia and other regions within “The Golden Crescent” down through Richmond into Tidewater have more pressing needs because they are more heavily populated.

But one cannot make that argument convincingly.

Good roads are as vital for us as they are for anybody else. Our lives and livelihoods are no less important simply because there are fewer of us here than living in the suburbs outside Washington, D.C. A mile is still a mile as time goes by and safely traveling those miles is no less crucial to our health. Convenience is also embraced as heartily here as anywhere else in the Commonwealth.

The governor's transportation plan has had strong bipartisan support, which is generally a good thing. But our concerns are equally bipartisan and through the years it hasn't mattered whether Republicans or Democrats controlled the General Assembly or called the Governor's Mansion home. We still get far less transportation funding than we need.

Virginia does have transportation needs that must be met. Meet them. But meet them here, too.

“There are no Democratic or Republican roads,” Gov. McDonnell said when his Omnibus Transportation Bill was introduced.

No, but there are urban and rural roads.

“Our citizens need new roads to get to work on time, and home to their families a little earlier,” the governor said. “Our businesses need new roads to expand their operations, create good-paying jobs and get our economy moving again.”

Those needs are no less acute here.

The governor has said his plan will bring new roads and bridges “to every region of the Commonwealth.”

We need, however, more than a token bridge here and a token road there to make this “Omnibus Bill” deliver our people to work and home again safely.

How many of the plan's 900 projects and how much of that $4.4 billion will make a meaningful impact in Prince Edward, Buckingham, and Cumberland Counties for the men, women and children who travel our roads every day? In Cumberland, we know, there are just two of the 900 projects and just $84,000 of the $4.4 billion.

Prince Edward gets eight projects and Buckingham six, hundreds and hundreds of projects going elsewhere. Again.