WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Transportation Committee on Monday discussed creating a transportation fund in which the county government would set aside money for essential road projects.
The discussion came about after Assistant Planning Director John Bishop reminded the committee that the county has generally been unsuccessful with Smart Scale, which is Virginia’s data-driven prioritization method to fund road projects.
“Like many localities, we have not had nearly the success we would like,” Bishop said.
Smart Scale scores transportation projects proposed by localities and regional planning bodies by evaluating each project’s merits. Factors assessed include safety, reduction of traffic congestion, environmental impact and cost. Projects approved for funding are included in the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s six-year improvement program — a document that outlines planned spending for transportation projects.
This year, no county road projects received funding through Smart Scale. The committee has often complained that the scoring system puts Frederick County at a disadvantage and heavily favors transit projects in the Northern Virginia area.
In response, Bishop mentioned other ways the county could begin investing in future road projects. One suggestion is to create a transportation fund. Money could come from numerous sources, including general property taxes or cigarette taxes. Bishop also suggested fully taking advantage of available programs with matching funds, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation revenue-sharing fund.
Transportation Committee member and Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. supported creating a transportation fund. He said it would benefit the county to set aside money each budget cycle for transportation expenditures.
“I think one way or another we need to try to leverage our money where we can and try to be as competitive as possible,” DeHaven said. “We obviously have not been successful recently.”
Back Creek Supervisor Shawn Graber said he thinks the Board of Supervisors and Transportation Committee need to get their priorities in line and determine what transportation projects should be funded.
“We’ve had a significant increase in revenue the last several years, especially through natural growth,” Graber said. “It is very unfortunate that we have not allocated this money to transportation resources with the growth that we’ve seen.”
The committee plans to discuss the matter further at future meetings.
Also on Monday, Bishop said he had heard “a lot of positive comments” about the opening of Crossover Boulevard, a new road that opened to the public on Sept. 10. Crossover Boulevard takes drivers from Tevis Street in Winchester to Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522) in Frederick County.
Attending the meeting at the County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. were Chairman Judith McCann-Slaughter and committee members Charles DeHaven Jr., Shawn Graber, Gary Oates and James Racey.