- Report Published -
|Transportation Needs of the Hampton Roads Area|
|SJR 196 (1991)|
|This study was requested by the General Assembly in 1990 and continued in 1991. Its general purpose was to study the transportation needs of Hampton Roads and make recommendations on mechanisms to meet those needs. More particularly, it was charged with determining the desirability and feasibility of meeting the area's transportation needs through the mechanism of a regional transportation financing authority.|
In the course of its two-year study, the subcommittee found that current state and federal funding of transportation facility construction for the region is falling short of its demonstrable needs by approximately $160 million per year. The group also determined that improved efficiencies in the operation of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the opening of the Interstate Route 664 crossing of Hampton Roads between Newport News and Suffolk (scheduled for April of 1992), and additional revenues flowing to the region from the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-240),signed into law December 18, 1991, will afford some relief to traffic congestion fort he next several years.
For these reasons and because of the future burden that new taxes and additional tolls would impose on the region in the midst of the present economic recession, the join subcommittee does not recommend the creation of a regional transportation financing authority at the present time. However, the group feels that it may be appropriate for the General Assembly to reconsider this question in the future.
Should the legislature ever create a regional transportation financing authority, the joint subcommittee recommends (i) that any such entity vested with regional planning and taxing authority be made accountable to the region's voters and (ii) that any such entity be capable of producing practical, cost-effective transportation facility construction programs rather than merely imposing an additional layer of expensive bureaucracy whose impact on the region's transportation needs will be outweighed by its cost.
the joint subcommittee recommends that the region's local governments and mass transit operators move expeditiously to provide transit bus service across Hampton Roads. Currently, transit bus service stops, literally, at the water's edge. There is no alternative to private cars for commuters, shoppers, and others who wish to travel between communities north of Hampton Roads and those south of Hampton Roads. Compared to the cost of new bridges and tunnels, the cost of this service would be minimal.
The group also recommends that the Virginia Department of Transportation study factors affecting and changes in traffic flow, volume, and congestion associated with the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and formulate and present recommendations for ensuring the facility's efficiency, adequacy, and safety. (Legislation providing for such a study is provided in Appendix C.) If the opening of the Interstate Route 664 crossing of Hampton Roads fails to provide the expected relief for the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, the question of new funding for the region's needs will require urgent reassessment.