Hudgins, Smyth Vote “No” on Improving I-66

By VA Blogger

So federal, state, and local politicians all talk about how Northern Virginia needs money for transportation, right? So Frank Wolf and Tom Davis go out and get roughly $30 million in federal funds for I-66 improvements, and Supervisors Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) and Linda Smyth (D-Providence) say “Thanks, but no thanks.” (see here and here)

Are you f’n kidding?

The money is just sitting there, ready for us to use it to add another lane on Westbound I-66 inside the Beltway, widely recognized as one of the most congested roads in the nation. No one should know this better than Smyth, since I-66 runs through the heart of Providence District.

Lowell gave this thumbs up to the opposition, standing on principle against road expansion of any kind. That’s fine for an outside interest group, but for two public officials in a County where traffic is far and away the number one issue, this is a failure of leadership.

Smith and Hudgins are both up for re-election in 2011. Let’s see how they explain to their constituents why they want them to sit in traffic.


Comments

  • Dan says:

    Seems nutty to me not to take advantage of the available funds. I heard some guy on the radio babbling some mumbo jumbo about “multimodal” studies being completed before any road construction should begin on I66.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a proponent of mass transit. It is insane how we have spread ourselves out living fifty miles from where we work and expecting automobiles to get the transportation job done. But to say we should just stop building roads before we have any genuine mass transit options in place is nuts.

    It is also crazy that while we have poured billions upon billions into federal highway subsidies we have nutjob politicians screaming socialism at anyone who wants to give a pittance to mass transit.

    Is it any wonder so many Americans take drugs? This stuff makes you want to scream.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Dan-

    You’re exactly right. Mass transit needs to be expanded, but that’s not mutually exclusive from expanding road capacity as well. No matter how many mass transit options are available, I-66 will still be congested.

  • The Loudoun Road Warrior says:

    This is a real blow to the 1000′s of Loudoun residents who commute to Washington, DC. Loudoun’s own tireless advocate for meaningful transportation improvements, Lori Waters, lead the fight to keep these key road improvements in the six-year plan but her fellow TPB members voted to keep I-66 inside of the Beltway the logjam funnel that it currently is.

    It is interesting to note that all of the Democrats on the TPB voted against providing this relief to Northern Virginia commuters while all of the Republicans on the TPB voted to keep this I-66 inside the Beltway in the six-year plan. The Washington Businss Journal, a non-partisan newspaper excoriated the TPB in its coverage of the TPB vote.

    See: http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/stories/2009/02/16/daily60.html?jst=m_ln_hl&surround=lfn

    Quoting from that article:

    Loudoun County Supervisor Lori Waters, her voice rising, implored the panel not to kill the I-66 improvements, saying the region needs both roads and transit.

    “That’s the reality of it,” she said. “Frankly, in my jurisdiction, we do have to drive.”

    Bravo, Lori Waters. Thank you for standing up to those Northern Virginia elected officials who would prefer for us to stay in gridlock.

  • RichmondDem says:

    “Mass transit needs to be expanded, but that’s not mutually exclusive from expanding road capacity as well. ”

    Exactly, transit isn’t a zero-sum game. You can do both roads and mass transit.

  • Not John S. Mosby says:

    The issue here was the 3-4 year delay to do an environmental study, which wasn’t funded.

    Arlington really should have the main say here, since the road improvements would be in their county. I was a kid when 66 was being built and clearly remember the debate on how wide it would be, the neighborhoods it cut through, etc.

  • VA Blogger says:

    The environmental study wasn’t part of the deal to do a spot improvement.

  • duh says:

    Countless commuters from both Hudgins’ and Smyths’ districts use 66 inside the Beltway. I would be shocked if their 2011 challengers did not hammer them for this vote.

  • VA Blogger says:

    More than that, but Rt. 50, Rt. 7, and Rt. 123 are all backed up from overfill, in both Providence and Hunter Mill.

  • This is so ridiculous. Stopping every road project as Lowell suggests is not going to make mass transit any more feasible for the spread out mess we already have. The I-66 project must move forward as fast as possible. Holding it up is just obstructionist.

  • not t says:

    Those sure are some butch hairdos on those two!

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    You actually provided a link to Lowell Feld’s Blue Virginia blog….god help us. This world is getting more upside down every day.

  • Dorothy says:

    These ladies have overlooked the fact that all those democrats in DC might need to be evacuated some day. It would be a shame if 66 were so congested with VA traffic that there was no room for the citizens of DC. Oh well…can’t blame that on Bush…so sorry.

  • reston libertarian says:

    There is no way hunter mill will elect a republican absent massive clear corruption by democrats. Nonetheless Hudgins has given indications that she does not intend to run for reelection, and one of her aides will run on the democratic side.

    Folks from reston use 66 inside the beltway all the time, this is a shortsighted decision and is just plain mean to people who use 66.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    Oh Dorothy, Lowell thinks the solution lies in the Metro for evacuation of DC in the event of a disaster. I wonder what the citizens of the District think of that?

  • Lowell also thinks Judy Feder is a good Congressional candidate!

    Bada bing!

  • Moderate R says:

    As a Fairfax resident who uses 66 every day, I find it absolutely ridiculous that these funds are available and aren’t going to be used. Public transit is simply not an option for some people given their work days.

    66 is the only major highway in the area that is only two lanes inside the beltway, and there’s random congestion traffic at all times of day. Throw in the average wreck and commute times double.

    If the money is there and there’s space to widen the road, it’s negligent not to use it.

  • Lee J says:

    The real shame are the bridges etc are already designed for another lane at least. Even the ramps many are designed for another lane. So it would be a minimal road construction project as far as freeways go.

  • NovaConservative says:

    66 is a joke. Hell, even Boston has better access in and out of the city–even before the Big Dig–than DC does. A four lane highway is ridiculous.

    And no, Arlington really has no say in this. Millions of miles of roads have been built using eminent domain, 66 is a safety issue in addition to simply being badly overstretched.

    Of course, the problem really is what to do at the END of 66–because once you approach DC, its still a logjam with nowhere to go. This region represents what happens when there is no cooperation between jurisdictions…DC operates as if VA doesn’t exist, and likewise with MD and VA.

  • novamiddleman says:

    DC is anticar Arlington is anticar and now Fairfax is looking to be anticar. That when the fact that even in this area over 90% of people drive. Somebody needs to clue these politicos in.

  • Alter of Freedom says:

    I must tell you I feel really bad for those Virginians who have to rely on I66, of course its mainly the population dynamic up there, but here and around Richmond its like we have twice or even three times the road capacity that is really required. Either it was really planned very well or has simply just been overkill. Not sure which.

  • AoF, what do you think it is????????????????

    Richmond has more political clout than NoVA. It’s that simple. NoVA funds the rest of the state on just about everything, and transportation spending distribution is obscene. We pay, Richmond and RoVA get the disporportionate share. I couldn’t believe how wide open the Richmond freeways were last time I was down there in rush hour. All while a stranglehold remains in the economic engine of NoVA. And I couldn’t believe some of the improvements I was seeing down Danville way with no capacity issues to speak of. It’s almost criminal.

  • RichmondDem says:

    “I must tell you I feel really bad for those Virginians who have to rely on I66, of course its mainly the population dynamic up there, but here and around Richmond its like we have twice or even three times the road capacity that is really required.”

    Maybe our state reps are more effective? I don’t know but I’ve noticed the same thing you have. Look at the Pocahontas Parkway–barely anyone uses that thing!

    Even the Downtown Expressway and and especially 288 are empty outside of rush hour–and even then they aren’t particularly crowded.

  • RD, it’s the long simmering NoVA vs. RoVA feud at the heart of it. They all gang up on NoVA to appropriate most of the state funds for their regions, thinking NoVA has so much money they can handle their transportation needs all by themselves. It’s Robin Hood economics and has nothing to do with party politics.

  • RichmondDem says:

    Also, we may have excellent roads but about zero mass transit. Rail, what rail? And GRTC doesn’t even go to Chesterfield anymore, and barely touches Henrico. Compare that to the bus system in Alexandria/Arlington/FFX, and the VRE.

  • VA Blogger says:

    Which is why it’s particularly frustrating to overcome the biggest obstacle and actually get funding for a road project (gasp!), only to have it shot down by two out-of-touch Supervisors.

  • KEN REID says:

    Folks. Don’t just complain here. Email the Loudoun Board to adopt a resolution, asking the Fairfax BOS to instruct Smyth and Hudgins to reconsider. I am asking the Leesburg Town Council to do this Tuesday night, and would welcome any of you to come down and speak at our Petitioners session, which starts around 7:45 p.m. I have emailed Supervisor Waters to put forth a similar call to the Fairfax BOS. Let’s also thank Supervisor Waters for showing leadership at the TPB. Extra lanes on I-66 helps Loudoun commuters, including those who use our excellent express buses to D.C.and the Pentagon, so they make better time. Thank you.

  • Ron says:

    I-66 is bad even on weekends. Hudgins and Smyth aren’t the only problem; the Arlington and Falls Church reps have been logjams for years. I say we should boycott Arlington businesses to thank their representatives for their help.

    In addition, we should change Virginia license plates to show the county, like some other States do. Then we should mandate that Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church residents are only allowed in the right lane of I-66 outside the Beltway. If that lane is closed, too bad, they have to wait. Let them experience the joys of restricting everyone else.

  • Story in the WaPo today says Sharon Bulova has strongarmed these two into changint their votes at the next meeting. I’m sure the order came down from Boss Connolly, but who cares how it happened at this point – at least it will get this back on track.

  • KEN REID says:

    Just heard word from Pat Herrity. He and Mike Frye’s resolution to support the widening passed the BoS, so Hudgins and Smyth are now obligated to seek the TPB’s reconsideration. Rep. Wolf also wrote the TPB urging reconsideration. I am still going to ask the Town Council to ask the TPB to reconsider and urge Gov. Kaine to stop the study and start construction. So, despite the fact our folks are in the minority party, they have stepped up to the plate today! Thanks Rep. Wolf and Supervisors Herrity and Frye.

  • Not Thomas Jefferson says:

    Hunter Mill will elect a Republican stay tuned, this kinda of wacky decision making is not a first for Cathy Hudgins

  • Not Thomas Jefferson says:

    Hunter Mill will elect a Republican stay tuned, this kind of wacky decision making is not a first for Cathy Hudgins

  • [...] ** Widen I-66? Democrats, led by Arlington and aided by Fairfax’s Linda Smyth and Cathy Hudgins, opposed the measure, despite federal funding already in place for the project.  [...]

  • [...] to keep the are nigh. However, Supervisors Smyth and Hudgins should remember that they will already have to answer to voters for obstructing federal funds designed to widen I-66 inside the Beltway, while Supervisors Foust and [...]

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