privatization of VDOT

Brent Finnegan -- November 13th, 2006

This year our General Assembly voted to outsource all public road maintenance services to privately-owned companies by July 2009. As a result, VDOT is closing, or “consolidating,” 91 maintenance sites by 2008. One of the first maintenance centers just happens to be at Chimney Rock near Fulks Run.

This is, of course, another part of “Virginia’s transportation issue,” the years-long political saga between the House and Senate in Richmond.

Our senator, Mark Obenshain was behind the privatization:

“…VDOT is hardly a model of efficiency. It has been estimated that VDOT could realize savings of as much as $200 million a year by privatizing more of our highway maintenance.”

But now it seems unclear where Obenshain stands with the closure(s) in his district. He says he applauds the efforts to streamline VDOT, but he’s “concerned about school buses traveling over pothole-riddled roads… Obenshain pointed out that each winter, poor road conditions lead to several school closures. Without a maintenance facility nearby, more closures are likely.”

Rockingham BoS member Pablo Cuevas (also a Republican) is opposed to the Chimney Rock closure, and I don’t know where Matt Lohr stands on all this. He wasn’t quoted in either of those articles.

Will the private sector do a better job of clearing snow off the road and fixing potholes? I guess we’ll find out next winter. VDOT officials are holding a meeting regarding the closure tomorrow evening at the Rockingham Admin Center.

5 Responses to “privatization of VDOT”

  1. Gxeremio says:

    This is a typical “not in my backyard” political move played at almost every level of government. People want to be seen as principled, but as soon as those principles have a negative effect on their constituents they want an exception. It’s the same reason even “budget-cutting” politicians like Reagan, Bush 2, and the 94 Republican Congress have historically been behind increasing expenditures. So what is it, guys? Is the principle wrong or are you too afraid of the repercussions?

  2. finnegan says:

    Privatization has too much momentum now that it has been set into motion. These local voices of protest aren’t going to stop anything. This is something that everyone was behind, including Gov Kaine.

    I think that everyone can agree that VDOT needed reform of some kind, but I still have to wonder if privatization was the best answer in this case. But like I said, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  3. Barnabas says:

    So when this becomes privatized will it still be regulated? Does the state have standards for roads, or will this be left up to the counties?
    Who is responsible for the interstates? Is it the privatized sector or does that fall under USDOT?
    Man I need to do some research.

  4. finnegan says:

    VDOT is in charge of 81 projects in Virginia. But a lot of projects are contracted out. If any readers have knowledge of how VDOT contracts it’s work out, please jump in here.

    Right now, I’m pretty sure they’re just shedding the state-run maintenance centers (pothole fixes and snow removal) in the counties.

    Snow removal inside the city limits is handled by the city’s Public Works Department.

  5. Adam Sharp says:

    “Isn’t this something they should have thought of before voting to privatize these services?”

    No, why should they? The free market takes care of everything. We just need to be patient and wait for the first snowfall back in Bergton. Then Rockingham can bid for snow removal services and a local company can make a pile courtesy of the local taxpayers. Then the next snowfall they can do it again. That’s what capitalism is all about: securing goverment monopol- er, contracts.

    Obenshain and Lohr just don’t have enough faith in the invisible hand. Welty must not be stressing that enough in his e-mails.

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