Plum Urges Transportation Compromise

Virginia Democratic Caucus says there is no magic bullet for tolls, traffic solutions.

Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) was among a group of house delegates who spoke out in Richmond about Virginia traffic on Monday. Plum called "some of the worst transportation gridlock in the country" and offered bipartisan support to solutions to the problem.

"From the north end of the urban crescent in Northern Virginia - with the third- worst commute in the nation - to the southern end at Virginia Beach with the 18th-worst commute, Virginians pay dearly with the lost time, money, and quality of life because of traffic congestion," Plum said at a news conference held by the House Democratic Caucus.

Among the goals for the House Democrats: To see a 5-percent wholesale gas tax; urban areas having the ability to raise their own transportation money;  a method to ensure money for construction isn't carried over to maintenance; and money in the general fund to stay there.

Another issue is rising tolls, a big concern in communities such as Reston that depend on the Dulles Toll Road. The House Democratic Caucus said taxpayers who have already paid for existing roads should not have to pay more tolls on those projects just to fund new ones, such as Phase 2 of Metro's Silver Line.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has proposed a transportation plan that includes cutting the gas tax and increasing sales tax to find $3.1 billion for transportation improvements over the next five years.

Plum says this is the year the General Assembly must act on a transportation resolution.

"The message I am getting from my constituents is solve the problem," he said. "They want a solution regardless of who gets the credit—whether it is the Governor, the General Assembly, the Republicans, the Democrats. Stop the legislative gridlock that keeps commuters sitting in traffic gridlock."

Plum said meaningful reform depends on finding common ground and crafting a bill that incoroprates the best of all proposals, adding that there is no silver bullet to fix the problem.

Adequate funding it the key, he says.

"Democrats are ready to draw upon the strengths of the several bills and proposals that have been introduced by both Democrats and Republicans," said Plum. "Measures such as you have heard discussed that have broad-based appeal should be brought together in a substitute bill. We can craft a bill that will ensure that people who make minimal use of the transportation system will not be burdened with its costs. And we do not need to rob other programs."

More on Virginia transportation:

McDonnell Touts Transportation Plan

Silver Line Topic Page on Reston Patch  

Why Must Toll Road Users Pay the Most


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Bob Bruhns January 30, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Mr. Plum, what about the latest $26 Billion transportation surprise that we just got from WMATA? Should WMATA change their story before you and our other so-called 'leaders' decide to speak up on the subject?
John Lovaas January 30, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Delegate Plum is right on--it is long past time for the Governnor and the crowd in the Capitol to address and finally provide adequate funding for transportation solutions. Those solutions must include other modes of transport besides just building more roads. The Silver Line will help a bit, despite its poor design. But, more light rail and BRT are needed around NOVA, especially. The Governor's proposal is lunacy, Doing away with the gasoline tax and putting a surtax on hybrids is a recipe for increased fossil fuel consumption as any economist or logical person will tell you. Not to mention the fact that the sales tax that McDonnell and the Republicans would rather increase puts a disproportionate burden on the folks who are in the middle and lower in income. Again, they come out favoring lessening the burden on the wealthy. The gasoline tax is a perfectly appropriate user fee in fact. It taxes those who buy the most gas, use the most inefficient vehicles. What we need is a total overhaul of the Government of this Commonwealth.
Bob February 02, 2013 at 10:55 PM
One problem not being fully brought out is that many types of mass transit are plainly VERY expensive to the point that paying for it is problematic. Instead of blindly bashing the Republicans, consider that the gasoline tax - and especially raising it - is a regressive tax, hitting those with the lowest incomes the most. 'Rich' people don't necessarily drive further than 'poor' people and buy more gas; and anyone who has driven on Rt 7 west of Leesburg, 270 towards Frederick, and 66 way west can attest to that. And the governor's plan acknowledges that there actually is the desired shift away from the fossil fuels ... revenue from the gas tax is unreliably decreasing. Raising the sales tax is progressive; those that spend the most (the 'rich') will pay more in taxes. The surtax on hybrids is not something I read about in the governor's plan, and is not a good idea for the reason you mentioned.


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