Opinion

Slowing down for road work everywhere but Virginia

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Print this page by Robert Powell

The orange signs seemed to pop up every 50 miles or so — “Road Work Ahead,” “Reduce Speed,” “Lane Closed.”

In a recent 1,900-mile trip across five Southern states, I found almost all of them working on their roads. Exception was Virginia, which has cut $2 billion from its construction budget for the next six years.
To be fair, I traveled on relatively short stretches of interstate highway in Virginia (maybe 160 miles total) during this journey. Nonetheless, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida look like beehives of road activity by comparison.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Were did they get the money? Is this stimulus money at work? Or have these states found a source for road revenue that has so-long eluded Virginia?

But another thought quickly came to mind. When Virginia finally finds the political will or the money to work on its roads, will the state become one massive construction site? I remember the warning of a friend, a former state transportation department employee, about the consequences of repeated delays. He told me about a Northeastern state that continually cut its transportation budget until necessity finally forced it to act. The result was a series of construction projects from one end of the state to the other. For motorists, the state became nearly impassable, a dysfunction junction.

So maybe this is the Old Dominion’s future. The signs on the state line will read “Welcome to Virginia” quickly followed by “Road Work Ahead, Next 178 Miles.”


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