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Supervisors’ Northern Virginia Transportation Authority project wish list sparks political fight

Route 15, Shellhorn Road, Northstar Boulevard and six other road projects around the county will compete for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).

The Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday on a list to send to the regional transportation body for funding consideration for projects worth a total of $365 million.

Since October, the board has been considering which local transportation projects to send to NVTA and which three should be ranked highest.

But the decision over which projects would be deemed the board’s top three sparked a heated debate, which resulted in board members making a formal motion to challenge Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).

County transportation staff and Randall, who serves as the vice chairwoman of NVTA, tried to assure supervisors it did not matter which projects appeared on the top of their list.

As the vice chairwoman of NVTA, Randall told her colleagues that getting funding for transportation projects was more about political relationships forged on the transportation authority rather than the rankings.

She pointed out that after the Nov. 7 elections, the political makeup of the transportation authority will be much different. On Nov. 7, NVTA member and Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th), a transportation guru, was defeated by political newcomer Wendy Gooditis (D).

In the 40th District, according to media reports, the race is still too close to call between NVTA member, incumbent Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th), and Democrat Donte Tanner.

“Colleagues, I can tell you [the ranking] really does not matter. It really does not,” Randall said. “Last year, Northstar was first, and it didn’t get funded at all.”

But supervisors continued to make their case for the rank of their preferred projects.

“[NVTA is] a political body, and when you give somebody a ranking, it’s still a ranking,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I understand what you’re saying, but when people see it, there’s still a project that’s listed first, so it’s going to be noted that that is the top ranked. And to me, since we’ve been saying consistently for two years, we need Northstar [Boulevard] as our top-ranked project, we need money for Northstar, then that ought to be the project that’s our number one.”

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) suggested the board put widening Route 15 as its top transportation project followed by Shellhorn Road and Northstar Boulevard as a “compromise.”

The list still upset some supervisors.

Letourneau tried to bring forward a counter motion before the board voted on Meyer’s proposal. Randall said his motion could move forward, but Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) and Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) brought forward a motion to challenge the chairwoman’s decision to allow Letourneau's motion to be voted on.

“We go through an entire debate … we get right to the point of voting and the supervisor doesn’t like where it’s going, so they say ‘Oh I want to make a different motion,’ that’s the wild west,” Buona said. “If you want to add hours to the meeting and make it hostile, this is going to make this hostile.”

Buona and Higgins’ motion ended up failing, with only he and Higgins in favor, allowing Supervisor Letourneau’s counter motion to move forward. Letourneau tried to move Northstar Boulevard to the top of the board’s NVTA top three priority list, but his motion ended up failing too.

“To be honest with you, I think a year ago or two years ago, when I was a little bit more feisty, I would seriously move a motion to amend to put Shellhorn [Road] on top,” Meyer said. “This is getting frankly absurd.”

The board ultimately voted for Meyer’s motion, which lists the board’s top three projects as: widening Route 15 from Battlefield Parkway to Montresor Road; extending Shellhorn Road and Northstar Boulevard.

Other projects on the board’s NVTA wish list include widening Route 28 northbound; improvements to Evergreen Mills Road from Northstar Boulevard to Loudoun County Parkway; Prentice Drive and Lockridge Road West and implementing traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures in the Town of Hillsboro.

NVTA funds transportation projects that focus on relieving congestion in northern Virginia. 30 percent of NVTA’s funds are distributed directly to the authority’s member jurisdictions, which use those funds for local transportation projects. The remaining 70 percent of NVTA’s funds are distributed to regional projects. Three existing taxes – sales tax, grantor’s tax, and transient occupancy tax – were increased in northern Virginia in 2014 to generate the NVTA’s annual revenues of approximately $300 million.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.

Comments


DD, of course Randall lies.  She committed perjury in federal court.  I will recap the details face-to-face with the BOS directly during public comments.  If Randall is willing to commit felonious perjury, why do you think she wouldn’t lie to her constituents?


” getting funding for transportation projects was more about political relationships forged on the transportation authority rather than the rankings”

That’s disturbing.  That means the system that was put in place to choose projects based on merit has completely failed and people are being lied to.  Corrupt Virginia politics continues onward with no real change and Randall goes along with it.

So, Randall tells people like developers no last minute changes but inserts last minute changes when she feels like it.

Do as I say, not as I do.


The definition of ranking comes from NVTA’s Bylaws-  “.... the Authority shall, on the basis of regional consensus, set regional transportation policies and PRIORITIES for regional transportation projects. In support of regional consensus, it is desirable that NVTA secure the formal approval of each of its member
jurisdictions before adoption of the plan. The policies and PRIORITIES shall be guided by PERFORMANCE-BASED CRITERIA such as the ability to improve travel times,
reduce delays, connect regional activity centers, improve safety, improve air quality, and move the most people in the most cost-effective manner.”  Priorities = Ranking = PERFORMANCE-BASED CRITERIA Hopefully, the NVTA members will ignore the noise of “political relationships” or whoever yells the loudest (however it has been done in the past) and start following their own Bylaws.  BOS needs to use NVTAs Bylaws, and through consensus, take their argument to the NVTA.  Chair Randall you are the leader who needs to make this happen, or please move out of the way.


Randy Minchew, transportation “guru” ?  Is a shill for developers and legislative lobbyist a “guru”.  His “results” finally caught up with him.  The final straw was when he described himself as a “Rule of Law” attorney.  Give me a brake. 

Get the job done Ms. Randall. We are sick of excuses and the elected officials blaming politics as you have done here.


If only words like “list” and “rank” had definitions.

I continue to be amused by Mr. Meyer’s obsession with funding Shelhorn Dr, the “Greenway Alternative” that he exclusively platformed on. Seems like only yesterday that he said to me:

“The county staff informed me that they already have enough funds available to pay for our proposed Shellhorn extension project in the current Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget”...

Except that was actually Sept 2015.

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