Virginia County Revolts Over HOT Lane Deal

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
virginia county revolts over hot lane deal

Virginia’s second-largest county yesterday fired the first shot in what is likely to be an ongoing war over a state plan to toll existing lanes on an interstate freeway. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted 7 – 0 (with one abstention) to approve an ordinance demanding that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) answer a series of tough questions regarding its proposed transfer of the Interstate 95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to Transurban. The ordinance reflected the board’s concern with the length of the contract (80 years) and the possibility that Virginia taxpayers may have to provide a financial “bailout” for the Australian tolling company– should the HOT lane concept not perform as promised. Chairman Stewart pointed to the warning of Fitch Ratings, which downgraded its assessment of the credit risks associated with tolling to “negative.” Stewart compared Transurban to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…

Stewart made the connection by pointing out Transurban execs’ multi-million dollar compensation packages and golden parachutes. Just like the failed mortgage giants, Transurban is highly leveraged and uses campaign donations to shape public policy. In Transurban’s case, the illegal contributions to the governor and members of the General Assembly were returned. “We cannot trust Transurban,” Stewart said. “We should, at a minimum, exercise some due diligence here and make them accountable to the government whose residents will be tremendously and I think negatively affected…”

The resolution calls on VDOT to produce documents, including all of its correspondence with Transurban and the governor’s office, regarding the HOT lane project. Representatives from VDOT and Transurban are asked to appear before a special public meeting no later than February 2009. A copy of the resolution is attached in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.

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  • AllStingNoBling AllStingNoBling on Oct 22, 2008

    As a member of TTAC who also happens to be a resident of Price William County, VA (and happens to live right by I-95/395, no less) ; I would like to give a hearty, "HELL YEAH!!" to my county. It's one thing to be paying out the nose - in an already expensive part of the country - in taxes for these roads, but to then pay a toll... to a foreign entity no less?! When I worked in DC, I rode my motorcycle, and used the HOV lane nearly every day. I still use the HOV lanes as much as possible. It's bad enough that VDOT allowed hybrid vehicles into the HOV lanes. Not only did all those slow and numerous vehicles choke up the pace of the lanes; but (ironically enough) they completely missed the point owning a hybrid. Now VDOT wants to allow any Joe Shumuckatelli to get on the HOV provided he pays a toll, which will completely dork up the lanes. Way to go VA. *As an aside, for those who do not live in National Capitol Region: The VA I-95/395 HOV lanes bisect the northbound and southbound lanes, and are a separated by Jersey Walls from each respective direction of the highway. They are a double lane system with a white dashed line. In the morning they flow with north into DC. At night they flow southbound into VA. These HOV lanes are not your usual HOV lanes.*

  • Hitman1970 Hitman1970 on Oct 22, 2008

    Someone has resurrected the debate over the Lexus lanes again? Nice.

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  • ToolGuy BelAZ 75710. Just kidding -- it doesn't have a transmission.
  • Hugh I have no trouble believing they exaggerated somewhat, but I also figure they were factoring in the cost of the research and engineering. I am just disappointed at how they abandoned their own product (again).
  • TheEndlessEnigma Mustang, MX-5
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