Take Your Re-gift, Gov. McDonnell, And Go Wrap Yourself

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two months ago, as the debate began over Governor McDonnell's proposal to revolutionize transportation funding, I wrote a draft editorial-not used-that stated this at the outset: “Whatever the state does, rural Virginia will get the scraps. At best.”

I was wrong.

We got less.

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We got re-gifted.

Re-gifted in the worst possible way. Not a classic re-gift, where Virginia would have taken something given to it by Maryland, let us say, and then passed it on as something new to us.

Imagine if at Christmas your parents wrapped up something they'd given you last Christmas and gave it to you again, trying to convince you it was something entirely new.

And, what's more, you had to pay for it.

Oh, boy.

How fun.

Such love.

The state of Virginia has taken re-gifting to a new low.

And Cumberland didn't get even that much.

Taking the triumphant governor's advice, I clicked on the website: www.varoadtothefuture.virginia.gov/TheProjects.cfm.

There was a list of the “Proposed Projects for the Governor's 2013 Transportation Funding Proposal” and I looked in vain for Cumberland.



One project.

Prince Edward County?

Three projects.

But guess what?

Those three projects in Prince Edward County were already coming down the pike and would have done so-much of the money had already been allocated and the state would have financed the rest-whether the governor's revolutionary transportation plan passed or not.

So we're not even getting the scraps from anything new. We're being served what they were already bringing us to begin with.

And who wants to bet the one Buckingham project was on the way, too.

For rural Virginia, the epic transportation plan is no more than a paved version of the Emperor's New Clothes.

Meet the new funding, same as the old funding. We aren't presented with anything new. The state is re-gifting us, wrapping up what we already had coming and acting like it's something new, historic, extraordinary, beyond compare.

Beyond compare?

It's not even beyond compost.

Don't get on your knees and pray we don't get fooled again.

Stand up and speak out to the seats of power. All rural Virginia must do so while we have even a small thin voice, as far as urban Virginia is concerned.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have had our sales tax increased and the average motorist is going to pay more for gas, not less, and our schools and public safety agencies will be funded by a smaller pot of state revenue.

And for what road projects that wouldn't have happened anyway?

For nothing, literally, in our own communities.

The first project in Prince Edward County is $431,606 worth of work on a bridge and approaches on Route 623. The second project is replacing a bridge and approaches to Saylers Creek on Route 619 at a cost of $586,721. And the third is $204,060 for unpaved roads, which won't get you half a mile.

Much of the funding was already allocated and the projects were already on the list of work to be done and on their way.

Buckingham's one funding category is $634,380 for unpaved roads. Buckingham has a great need for far more than that.

And Cumberland gets nothing at all. Nothing old. Nothing new. Nothing borrowed and nothing blue.

That is Virginia's road to the future, as far as urban Virginia is concerned about us.

Or, more apparently, as far as urban Virginia is unconcerned about us.

Urban Virginia has no idea what residents in our communities face when it comes to transportation needs and challenges. The photograph to the right is worth far more than a thousand words and if that treacherously slick, rain-drenched, mud-covered gravel road were in Fairfax there would be $10 million in the state budget waiting to pave it. But Route 698 is in Buckingham. That overturned school bus is in Buckingham. No school bus driver should be forced to drive down a road in such a condition. No school children should be forced to ride to and from school down a road in such a condition. But it's a rural school bus, a rural bus driver, and rural school children.

Don't you be applauding a transportation plan, Governor McDonnell, that keeps that school bus driver and those school children at risk.

Pave this road, sir, and every road like it.

Take your re-gift, governor, and go wrap yourself.