Plan would reduce local clout on roads
Posted: January 26, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A proposal that would reduce the region’s clout on the state’s transportation board has passed its first hurdle in the General Assembly.
A House of Delegates committee passed legislation Thursday that would give three of Virginia’s urban areas an additional representative on the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board, which allocates funds for the state’s transportation system.
Rural areas would likely have a tougher battle to obtain state funds for transportation projects if the Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads regions get an additional seat on the board.
Frederick County Administrator John R. Riley Jr. isn’t a fan of the proposal.
“It’s always been difficult to compete against major population centers,” he said.
Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties are part of the Staunton District — one of nine state transportation zones, each of which is represented by one board member.
The board also has two urban-area and two rural-area board members, as well as the secretary of transportation, a commissioner, a director and one general at-large member.
If the General Assembly wants to add three seats, Riley would prefer them to be at-large members.
Winchester resident F. Dixon Whitworth Jr. — who represents the Staunton District on the board — understands the logic behind the proposed change.
“Those areas have more population,” he said Tuesday, referring to the urban districts. “And they contribute more in tax revenue.”
He added, however, that it will likely increase the feelings in rural districts that they are being shortchanged.
The bill (HB 2049) passed the House Transportation Committee Thursday by an 18-4 vote.
Dels. Joe May and Randy Minchew, both Leesburg Republicans, voted for the measure, according to the Virginia Legislative Information System.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com