Hopes for Roads Dim

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

Things are not looking good for future local road projects. V-DOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board held a meeting on Virginia's transportation issues. The public and local governments were given a chance to speak out, but it probably won't make a difference. Of the 166 projects V-DOT had last year, only 27 of those were in the Valley. This year there are only four. And next year there might not be any.

"It's a big temptation not to even hold the hearings this year," admits Virginia Secretary of Transportation Whitt Clement. "There's very little new money, if any. Especially when you factor in the vastly increased cost of maintenance from snow removal and flooding."

Clement says there are many factors in determining which of the projects will get funding.

"It depends on how expensive it is and it depends on how much of a threat it is to the public safety a particular deficiency is, " says Clement.

One of the more interesting things to come out of the meeting was a third proposal for I-81 by former Senator Frank Nolan. His proposal includes a massive railway system.

A good deal of the speakers proposed similar plans, saying it was better to ship by rail than expand 81. While both current plans for 81 include some rail service, Clement says V-DOT will look further into the idea.

"We will look at rail alternatives," says Clement. "We know it's important. We know we have to think more broadly. We'll just have to see how the process unfolds."

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