HJR 519

Commission on the Future of Transportation in Virginia

June 16, 1997, Richmond


The director of the Virginia Department of Aviation briefed the commission on his department's structure, financing, and responsibilities, stressing the close ties between aviation and Virginia's airport system and economic development. Virginia airports have produced 175,400 jobs with a total payroll of $4.0 billion and produced $13.9 billion in "economic activity." The amount of federal funding, the availability of which in future years is presently in doubt, makes predicting aviation's future state funding needs difficult. The director stated that future Virginia aviation programs would have to ensure

  • Adequate capacity at Virginia's commercial airports to handle increased traffic volumes without compromising safety;
  • Full use of latest technologies at Virginia's general aviation airports; and
  • Redistribution of commercial air service (including service by discount carriers) in line with consumer demand.

He further stated that Virginia does not need to develop its own "superport" in order to complete successfully with such a facility in North Carolina.

Congestion and Sprawl

Three speakers, two transportation officials from Virginia and one from Maryland, addressed the commission on the general topic of "avoiding and managing congestion and sprawl." The first drew a distinction between recurring congestion (occurring at predictable times at predictable locations) and non-recurring congestion (occurring at unpredictable times and locations) and pointed out ways in which new technologies are being used to permit "smart travel" that avoids or reduces recurring congestion. The second commented that while it was "nice to talk about what transit could do for congestion," few financial resources have been made available to support rail and public transit programs.

The third speaker, from Maryland, contrasted Virginia's "smart travel" program with Maryland's "smart growth program." Under this program, Maryland transportation agencies seek to educate the public on the true costs of "sprawl," while state law confines most state spending that supports or encourages economic development and growth to so-called "priority funding areas." While control of land use planning and growth stays at the local level, local government programs and initiatives that run counter to state policy will not be supported with state funds and must be paid for from local revenues. State transportation projects that add capacity are, with a few exceptions, limited to priority funding areas.

Next Meeting

The commission will meet again at 10 a.m. on August 11, 1997, in House Room D of the General Assembly Building.

The Honorable William P. Robinson, Jr., Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Alan B. Wambold