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Editorial: New ideas on roads welcome

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Two new proposals concerning Virginia’s highways show creative thinking to move the state forward.

It is too soon to tell if there is a chance that the General Assembly will pass Del. Charles Poindexter’s bill that would allow the state to borrow money to continue improvements to U.S. 58 or Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal that Virginia eliminate the gas tax and raise the state sales tax, among other measures, to generate road funds. We have yet to see many details of either proposal, including figures on how each would impact state residents, so it is too soon to support or reject them.

But we can applaud both Del. Poindexter and Gov. McDonnell for devising new approaches to old problems.

The U.S. 58 improvements across all of Southside have been in the works since 1989. Twenty-four years of a snail’s pace for projects from the state’s eastern shore to its western border is an embarrassment to the state, a hindrance to localities that saw the highway project as a path to economic growth, and a hazard to drivers traveling the road.

The same can be said about the state’s lack of funds for highway construction and maintenance projects throughout the state. From Interstate 73 in this area to bottlenecks on roads in northern and eastern Virginia, the needs are significant. McDonnell’s proposal is groundbreaking, in that no state in the nation has eliminated the gas tax, and it is worth a look if it could solve a problem that has eluded state officials for years.

We will watch with interest as both measures make their way though state committees and debates, and consider the impacts of both. In the meantime, we give both Poindexter and McDonnell credit for seeking new ways of resolving these problems.

 

 
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