“Virginia’s transportation system must meet the needs of each region. The congested urban crescent and our rural communities need the same things out of their transportation systems: convenience and reliability. From transit to highways, and from our Ports to METRO, we need a governor who is dedicated to improving our transportation infrastructure. I’ll be a transportation governor for ALL Virginians.” – Ed Gillespie
Efficient transportation and infrastructure systems are essential to economic growth and quality of life. But our transportation system is aging. In fact, the Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded Virginia a C- on its Report Card for Virginia’s Infrastructure. Unless the next Administration has a clear game plan for improving Virginia’s transportation system, the existing weaknesses and the specter of increased congestion will cripple Virginia’s economic development strategies. We need to ensure that every transportation dollar is spent for maximum impact. Virginia must prioritize transportation projects that reduce congestion, improve safety, and promote economic opportunities for Virginians.
Virginia’s transportation network should be the best on the the East Coast. From the Port of Virginia to our airports to our highways and byways, we must capitalize on our assets for competitive advantage. Unfortunately, in recent years many of those assets have turned into liabilities. In order to get people and goods moving, grow our economy, create jobs and help Virginia families, we must address some ‘Route Causes.’
As governor, Ed will take the politics out of transportation. He will roll up his sleeves and get to work for the people of Virginia. This will require hands-on management to fix Metro, deepen and widen our Port, and advance projects quickly and efficiently.
Ed raised his family in congested Northern Virginia. He knows what it feels like to miss dinner with your family because you were stuck in traffic. He also understands the value transportation provides our rural localities in terms of economic development and public safety. Virginians deserve more than a one-size-fits all approach to transportation funding and policy. Our Commonwealth is diverse in its needs and opportunities.
Ed’s comprehensive policy agenda will result in Virginians spending less time in their cars and more with their families.
Transportation is funded through a variety of sources – sales taxes, wholesale taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, recordation taxes, and other fees and taxes – all of which were adopted with a commitment to use them solely to improve Virginia’s transportation infrastructure.
Effectively Administer Transportation Funding
Ed Gillespie and his Administration will be efficient and effective administrators of HB 2313 funds and other transportation funding streams. The quality of our roads and bridges, the continuation of existing projects and the start of new ones will top priorities for Ed as governor. He will work closely with General Assembly leadership to advance commonsense solutions that advance transportation infrastructure and protect taxpayers. He will also appoint a Secretary of Transportation and VDOT leadership whose top priority is to make sure that transportation dollars go as far as possible.
As governor, Ed will oppose any effort to rollback HB 2313. He will also look to find innovative solutions to finance highway construction, including the limited commercialization of Virginia’s state-owned rest stops.
Part of our commitment to effectively deploy HB2313 and other transportation funding, must be a stated policy to oppose Project Labor Agreement (PLAs) mandates on construction projects. PLAs and prevailing wage requirements drive up costs and reduce the number of projects built.
Establish a Transportation Lock Box
Unfortunately, there is no prohibition on tapping transportation funds to spend them on other state expenses. Ed believes that such raids, which have occurred in the past, on transportation funding break the commitments made over many decades to Virginia’s taxpayers and should be stopped. That’s why he supports amending Virginia’s Constitution to create a “lockbox” for transportation dollars to prevent such diversions of funds.
As governor, Ed will advocate for the passage of Delegate Dave LaRock’s amendment as introduced and approved in the 2017 session that would require the General Assembly to maintain permanent and separate Transportation Funds.
Leverage Federal Spending
Virginia can do a better job of securing federal transportation funds to improve our infrastructure. We must aggressively pursue every federal grant opportunity and focus on funds that improve our road, rail, air and port assets.
Working with the Federal Government, Ed will work to ensure Virginia gets its fair share of transportation funds to meet the needs of Virginia as well as the many federal facilities located in the Commonwealth. This includes securing funding to move forward the next phase of the Coalfields Expressway, widening and deepening the Port of Virginia, I-81 improvements and other projects vital to job creation in every corner of the state.
Even when money is available, it often takes years, if not decades before funded projects are completed. That’s because burdensome and cumbersome state and federal regulations unnecessarily complicate the development of transportation projects without adding meaningful results. Some estimates put the cost of such rules and delays at 25-50% of the final costs. Ed will work with President Trump to advance the administration’s plans to rollback antiquated rules that often do little but slow construction of transportation projects.
As governor, Ed will direct all Virginia agencies with a role in the review of transportation projects to undertake a comprehensive review of laws and regulations to reduce the time and cost associated with more transportation construction.
Many of Virginia’s transportation woes are caused by the failure to manage traffic flows. By embracing new technology, we can better alert motorists to traffic jams and suggest alternative routes.
As governor, Ed will:
As governor, Ed will make transportation innovation a key goal for VDOT. He will encourage taking advantage of emerging technologies to enhance the travel experience in Virginia. Technology can help with monitoring safety and improving inspections of our transportation assets so we can fix them before the situation is critical.
Autonomous Vehicles and Unmanned Systems (UMS)
Virginia is well-positioned to become a leader in the unmanned systems (UMS) economy. Virginia Tech is a national leader through Virginia Tech’s Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) Test Site. Combined with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), Virginia Tech is at the forefront of the UMS industry explosion. A significant factor of our UMS exploration will be access to broadband around the Commonwealth. In August, Ed released his plan to close the digital divide and fund broadband expansion. This plan will be an important piece to ensuring the infrastructure is in place to explore the UMS economy. With the right leadership, UMS will continue to grow in Virginia. We should combine our first-class research institutions with existing business and industry to achieve the reputation as the best state for UMS.
As governor, Ed will direct VDOT’s Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) to partner with the Secretary of Technology to convene key stakeholders to develop a regulatory roadmap to balance the need to attract UMS investment with consumer safety. This can be done if industry and research is highly engaged in the short and long-term regulatory process.
Ed will also work with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) to establish a UMS Accelerator at Virginia Tech. This public-private partnership will help bring the best minds in research together with meaningful commercial opportunities. This will also bring CIT to Virginia Tech – an important signal about CIT’s statewide significance.
Too many people die on Virginia’s highways each year, and after years of declines, recent trends have been discouraging. We need to do a better job of enforcing our existing laws and make transportation safety – of all modes – a top priority.
As the state undertakes its routine maintenance activities, Ed will require VDOT to add a screening question to project decisions to identify low-cost ways to simultaneously improve safety along our transportation corridors.
While not a panacea to Virginia’s transportation challenges, such partnerships have a role to play in meeting the state’s needs. We should look at efforts in other states to use such partnerships to creatively address the problems with structurally deficient bridges, particularly in our rural areas, to develop partnerships with the private sector around stormwater management and other environmental protection efforts, and to develop new capacity where it’s needed most.
Incentive contracts with the private sector can deliver projects faster and cheaper, and support technology deployment. Public-Private Partnerships can be a tool to create real taxpayer value, specifically as it relates to complex projects, technology deployments, and where the private sector holds expertise. Further, public private partnerships provide investment capital that might not otherwise be reasonably available to finance development of a project, and provide opportunities to make performance of the project more efficient. The public’s interest in such projects must be protected through effective planning, management and strong contractual agreements.
Virginia Small Bridge Program
As governor, Ed will establish the Virginia Small Bridge Program, a strategic initiative to not only solicit public private partnerships to replace Virginia’s aging small bridges but to operate and maintain them for a specified period of time. This will ensure the effective and sustainable implementation of bridge replacement projects in the Commonwealth.
Nearly 300,000 Virginians ride Metro every single day. Metro is critical for economic development and job creation in Northern Virginia. Unfortunately, in recent years, Metro has fallen into a state of crisis. Too many in Northern Virginia know the daily frustration of unexpected, lengthy Metro delays. It is common to read headlines citing a critical systems failure of Metro.
Ed Gillespie is determined to lead, along with our neighboring jurisdictions, Metro forward to ensure safety, reliability and long-term sustainability of the system. This will require a thoughtful approach that balances Metro’s legitimate needs with necessary reforms and in a way that protects the taxpayer. This is possible, but we must first address the long-term structural problems that forced Metro into crisis.
First Things First
Virginia already provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the Washington Metro system, but much of this investment is wasted on bureaucracy and capital that does little to improve safety or the rider experience. Before considering any more money for Metro, we need to reform it first. Given all we contribute to the system, Virginia should have a larger role at the table when making key decisions about the system’s future. We should eliminate outdated work rules and procedures that reward inefficiency. We need to ensure that the recommendations of the federal Inspector General and the new Metro Safety Commission are fully adopted. Ed favors restructuring the Metro Board not on a temporary basis, but as a permanent change, and also favors appointment to the Board of top executives who will be open to innovation, improved performance standards and structural changes. Ed will work to ensure that the money spent by Metro is prioritized and spent objectively, not on politically popular or expedient projects, similar to the reforms that led to the SmartScale method now used by VDOT.
Regional Leadership for Transformation
Ed Gillespie is committed to Metro’s success. During the first weeks of Ed’s transition, he will initiate a meeting with Governor Hogan of Maryland, Mayor Bowser of Washington, D.C., Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. This meeting will bring together the top executive officer from each jurisdiction that funds, governs and operates the Metro system. Ed will ask Governor Hogan, Mayor Bowser and Secretary Chao to require Metro to develop a Transformation Plan. The Plan should include a much larger role for the private sector, a complete governance reform plan and an accountability system to the regional chief executives. Last year, it was important and appropriate to focus on safety. This year, we need a major reform roadmap.
At minimum, Metro must:
Ed agrees with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) that key governance and financial reforms must be addressed.
Ed is skilled at bringing people together to solve complicated problems. Through his steady leadership and working relationship with leaders in the federal government, Metro will be on a path to financial health reliability.
Ed will encourage Metro to conduct a comprehensive review of ways to improve the customer experience and encourage increased ridership. One possible way to improve the experience is for Metro to upgrade its transit payment technologies. There are open payment platforms that can reduce time wasted by both rider and system operations in completing transactions. We must take into consideration when implementing these changes the long term fiscal savings and as governor, Ed will advocate for a pilot program to test the feasibility of these upgrades.
Virginia enjoys one of the best natural harbors in the world, but the Port of Virginia is under-utilized compared to other ports of its capacity. North Carolina recognizes the Port of Virginia’s potential as it readies its own interstate project to better connect to the Port. The more Virginia can open up highway and rail corridors to the Port of Virginia, particularly along the Route 58 corridor, the more Southern Virginia and the region stretching from Virginia’s engineering epicenter in Blacksburg to Hampton Roads will become more attractive to manufacturers and exporters.
Deepen and Widen
With the expansion of the Panama Canal and continued labor strife and congestion on the West Coast, Virginia needs to capture this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the premier port on the East Coast. For more than 30 years the Port of Virginia has had Congressional Authorization to dredge to 55 feet to become the deepest port on the east coast. As a result of state appropriations, the Port of Charleston will supplant us as the deepest port on the East Coast in 2020. The activity in Charleston and the competition up and down the East Coast is an existential threat to Virginia’s economy. Given that nearly one in ten jobs in Virginia is tied to the Port, we must take immediate action to ensure the channel is dredged to 55-feet. We must work with the Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate the federal review and approval to dredge the Hampton Roads channels to accommodate the world’s largest ships. We need to remove and prevent bottlenecks in our road and rail transportation networks that serve the ports to improve efficiency.
Compete with East Coast Ports
As governor, Ed will advocate relentlessly to the federal government to accelerate efforts to deepen and widen Virginia’s port. He will also work with Port of Virginia, business and industry and the maritime community to enhance our competitiveness with the East Coast Ports and specifically the Port of Charleston and Port of Savannah. This begins with improved efficiency at the Port of Virginia and its partners.
Using technology to improve throughput at our ports will lower costs. But the story of our ports is not all about infrastructure in Hampton Roads; it is also about making the Port an asset for all of Virginia. We need a plan that captures new port-related jobs for all corners of Virginia.
New Sites for Job Creation
We need to identify and develop sites for new manufacturing and distribution facilities across the state that will complement the growth of the Port. And we need to make the ports an integral part of our state economic development and international trade marketing programs. As governor, Ed will work to establish a second inland port to benefit rural Virginia.
Rail and Carriers
The Port of Virginia moves a higher percentage of containers on rail than any East Coast port. We must increase the number of containers moving on rail through smart partnerships with rail. Rail helps keep containers off the road and enhances Virginia’s economic development opportunities – particularly in manufacturing and logistics – to the American South and American Heartland.
Balanced Growth: Container and Non-Container Cargo
We must grow our container and non-container cargo, including coal, grain and automobiles. If the Port of Virginia is focused on one more than the other, Virginia will suffer. As governor, Ed will work to advance balanced cargo growth that supports a broader base of jobs and industries.
Many of Virginia’s neighbors have moved decisively in the past five years to develop new intermodal facilities, in cooperation with the major rail carriers, to enhance access to their ports and get heavy trucks off major transportation corridors. Similar concepts for Virginia have languished in the courts or for other reasons. Prudent investments in rail infrastructure that increase access, reduce travel times and costs and enhance job creation will be a part of Ed’s comprehensive transportation strategy.
Further, we must dredge the James River to increase capacity for twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) freights and take more trucks off I-64 to Richmond. As governor, Ed will support the dredging of the James River to allow for expanded use of the Richmond Marine Terminal.
Virginia’s economic competitiveness is tied to our airports, and the strength of our airports is tied to our economic competitiveness. Ed understands the impact our airports have on our communities – from a family vacation, to a freight shipment, to business travel – airports move people and goods at all hours to all directions. We need to ensure our airports are able to attract airlines, flights, cargo and passengers. From CHO to IAD to RIC, our airports contribute mightily to Virginia.
In order to increase service, Ed will direct his Secretary of Transportation to initiate a comprehensive airports analysis to study and recommend areas for executive or legislative action. Further, Ed will work with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to conduct outreach to airline carriers to consider adding new flights and operations in Virginia.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is governed by a 17-member Board of Directors. The Governor of Virginia appoints seven Members. MWAA is charged with developing, promoting and operating safely Reagan National and Dulles International airports. MWAA also operates the Dulles Toll Road and holds a considerable operational and financial stake in the Silver Line.
Virginia is home to all of MWAA’s assets. Ed recognizes the importance of MWAA to the Virginia economy and our mobility. Virginia’s statewide airports are interconnected and operate with somewhat of a Domino effect. Transportation experts frequently acknowledge “so goes Dulles, so goes the rest of Virginia’s airports.” With this in mind, Ed is focused on MWAA’s success. Given the entire footprint of MWAA is in Virginia, Ed believes that Virginia ought to have a larger role in MWAA’s governance and operations. As governor, Ed will work with stakeholders to increase Virginia’s role and voice in MWAA’s future.
Put simply: maintaining a preeminent international airport in Virginia would be a key priority of Ed as governor. Dulles has dropped from 21st to 26th in the United States over the last ten years with 13.4% fewer people boarding there relative to 2006. BWI now has more passenger enplanements than Dulles. We must work to significantly improve the customer experience at Dulles. The airport is in the bottom half of large airports in a recent airport satisfaction study.
Aviation: Manufacturing and Distribution Opportunities
With the creation of the Aviation Parts and Supplies Sales Tax Exemption, Virginia becomes a very attractive location for Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MROs), aviation related parts manufacturing and distribution, and other aircraft support and distribution related companies. Delegate Rich Anderson sponsored legislation that relates directly to opportunities in Lonesome Pine, Abingdon and Pulaski County, among others, that have ample parcels of land located close to airfields with runways of significant length to take larger general aviation aircraft in for work. These have the potential to provide high-paying jobs and can range from A&P mechanics for jet and aspirated engine repair and service, electronics, paint and interiors.
Make NASA Wallops a Priority
Virginia’s potential role in spaceflight cannot be overstated. This is an important growth industry for the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Wallops Island, as well as for the Northern Virginia technology corridor. As governor, Ed will work closely with the public and private sector, state and federal government to ensure that NASA Wallops is successful and creates job opportunities for Virginians.
Ed strongly supports recent bipartisan efforts to inject accountability reforms into the transportation project planning process. He strongly believes in the merit-based approach of SMART SCALE. SMART SCALE holds tremendous potential but needs further improvements to ensure its long-term success.
As governor, Ed will create collaborative partnerships between VDOT staff and localities to encourage communication and efficiency when writing SMART SCALE applications. This will help provide uniformity and comparable analytics between applications. Further, Ed will create an additional mechanism within applications that differentiates between long-term solutions and short-term solutions. This will provide an incentive for collaboration between a locality’s goals for its roads and VDOT’s mobility plan.
Virginia’s rural roads have unacceptably high rates of deficiencies and fatalities. According to a report from TRIP, the national transportation research group, and related analysis from the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance, “20 percent of Virginia’s rural roads are rated in poor condition – the 14th highest rate in the nation – and 24 percent are rated in mediocre condition. Seven percent of Virginia’s rural bridges are rated as structurally deficient. The rate of traffic fatalities on Virginia’s non-Interstate, rural roads – 2.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel –is the 11th highest rate in the nation and nearly five times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.”
Virginia’s rural roads are critical for public safety, quality of life and economic development. As governor, Ed will establish a rural infrastructure coordinating committee to prioritize and advance rural roads.
The McAuliffe-Northam Administration has created a newly developed, recently implemented corridor policy that enacts two categories of policy: corridor preservation and corridor enhancement. Both are detrimental to localities’ efforts to foster economic development.
Corridor preservation, focusing on maintaining accessibility for through traffic on major roadways, negatively impacts rural areas. Corridor enhancement forces costly considerations when developing new roads in urban areas. This policy takes opportunities away from localities to achieve goals for economic growth.
Ed will work with localities to ensure that they are free to make roadway decisions that will spur economic development for their respective cities and counties.
Protect Infrastructure Against Sea Level Rise
In August, Ed unveiled his comprehensive plan to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding in Virginia. We need to take steps to harden our infrastructure in response to sea level rise in Hampton Roads and our coastal communities, but also in our mountain regions that are subject to recurrent flooding. As governor, Ed will ensure our transportation infrastructure is engaged in our comprehensive response to sea level rise.
Regional Partnerships in the Mid-Atlantic and American South
Establish the ‘Initiative-81’
Interstate 81 has been ignored for decades. The next governor must address the critical safety concerns facing residents up and down the critical but too often overlooked I-81 corridor. Virginians are rightly concerned with the safety of I-81. Last year alone there were more than 2,000 incidents on the road. I-81 carries 42% of statewide truck traffic volume.
As governor, Ed will launch ‘Initiative-81’ to partner with lawmakers, the private sector, adjoining states, the federal government and planning organizations to ensure that I-81 is made a priority. Along I-81, there are six metropolitan areas, and 30 higher education institutions. I-81 is critical for Virginia’s economic future. We need I-81 to be safe, reliable, and viable.
U.S. Route 29
Virginia is uniquely positioned along key axes to leverage for economic growth. Consider the U.S. Route 29 Corridor that runs through the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, through Southern Virginia, Charlottesville and then in Northern Virginia and Maryland near the National Capital Region and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This corridor runs the length of Virginia and connects key Life Sciences assets in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. The U.S. Route 29 Corridor should be seen as a benefit for Virginia’s transportation infrastructure but also for our Life Sciences sector. As governor, Ed will work with leaders in North Carolina and Maryland to market this important asset for Virginia.
The I-95 corridor will continue to be an important corridor for economic growth and has significantly powered the Virginia economy for decades. While the Northern Virginia I-95 corridor will continue to grow, we must also recognize the value of the Interstate 64 corridor from our west to Hampton Roads in our east. This is a key area of opportunity given the Port of Virginia’s significance to our economy. This interstate will serve as a key area for growth and Virginia’s import and export economy.
Southwest Virginia: Further West than Detroit
Lee County, Virginia is further west than Detroit, Michigan. The transportation needs and opportunities to collaborate in far Southwest Virginia are significant and varied. Ed will work closely with Governors from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina to accelerate projects and economic development collaboration from highways, to interstates to rail. We must ensure far Southwest Virginia is not left behind. Part of this solution will include advancing the Coalfield Expressway and passenger rail to Bristol.
National Capital Region
The National Capital Region provides Virginia’s gateway to the world. Our two major international airports – Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) – provide easy access to hundreds of nations and cities around the world. Combined with Metro and a complicated series of bridges and interstates, we are intertwined with Maryland, Washington, D.C., and the federal government. Virginia needs a governor who can work with leaders in Washington and Maryland to benefit Virginians. Ed will build relationships, form partnerships, and advocate for Virginians to end the gridlock and improve economic development opportunities.
This year’s election is not just about the next four years, but about the next 30 years. Virginia’s next governor should work to advance short-term priorities and lay the groundwork for the next 30 years to increase and ensure Virginia’s economic competitiveness.
As governor, Ed will study and accelerate the following key short and long-term projects: