Stuart Whitaker from Transiters wrote a great article that was published in the Washington Post. He makes the case why the “Transform 66” project is a terrible deal for taxpayers and commuters. The $2 Billion project is purportedly paid by tolls, but actually needs a $600 Million dollar public subsidy from taxpayers. Imagine what $600 Million could do for Virginia’s infrastructure, if it wasn’t sent to line the pockets of Big Pavement while they get to rake in toll revenue for five decades or more. The next time a Virginia politician says that there is no money for modest rapid transit extensions, remind them that they handed out over a half billion dollars to subsidize private toll collectors.
And what do taxpayers receive in return for that hefty chunk of their tax dollars? The “opportunity” to pay exorbitant unregulated tolls for the rest of our lifetimes while one of the free lanes on I-66 is removed, worsening congestion even more to ensure more people may pay for the expensive toll lanes. A VDOT representative recently said that even VDOT doesn’t expect everyday commuters to pay for the toll lanes on a daily basis because they won’t be able to afford the high expense.
Unfortunately, the Transform 66 project gets much worse from there. Homes and neighborhoods near existing public transit stations will be lost forever forcing homeowners and families to pack up and leave everything behind, even their schools. Hundreds of acres of open or forested land will be either destroyed or paved over. The publicly owned right of way will be turned over to a private operator to profit with the taxpayers’ money and land. Recently built infrastructure such as much of the I-66/I-495 bridges will be ripped out and demolished with the taxpayer subsidy, while other infrastructure deteriorates and road quality conditions worsen even more in Virginia.
Last year, the Commonwealth waived water regulations, so more storm water running off the newly paved land will cause more flooding and watershed damage in waterways such as Accotink Creek. The Commonwealth of Virginia and Fairfax County have shown no signs of doing any meaningful storm water mitigation, preferring to let vastly increased water polluted from oils, chemicals, and excessive snow melting compounds drain into nearby swelling creeks, thence into rivers and your Chesapeake Bay. The fragile environment that your health depends on is no match for tolling schemes and massive taxpayer handouts to private “concessionaires” who will be collecting more cash from commuters.
For more analysis, see Stuart’s article: