Building a New Transportation Future for Virginia

Good evening, Tim. Congratulations on your victory and thank you for coming to our area to talk with us about transportation solutions.

Over the last decade, traffic grew three times as fast as population. We’re overcome with traffic, causing frustration, rage, danger, and pollution.

Conventional wisdom says if we have too many cars, we should widen our highways and build more new roads.

Mr. Governor Elect, these are not conventional times and conventional solutions no longer serve the needs of the Commonwealth. We need to chart a new path.

A growing consensus of geologists, mining and petroleum engineers, economists, and yes, even politicians, are grappling with the emerging concept of Peak Oil, the point at which the exponential growth of petroleum demand can no longer be met by the finite resource of petroleum supply. We face a point, perhaps as soon as months away but likely within this decade when the amount of petroleum the world’s wells can place on the market will begin to diminish inexorably forevermore. I think it is a fair bet the coming years will bring skyrocketing prices and reduced availability of gasoline and diesel fuel.

When the OPEC oil embargoes sent our nation into recession thirty years ago, we imported 30% of our oil. Today we import 60%. Our nation is astonishingly and inexcusably vulnerable.

The reason traffic has grown three times as fast as population is that we have re-engineered our communities around the needs of our automobiles. Our schools, workplaces, restaurants, and stores are no longer accessible via any other means than our cars. Sprawl is the development paradigm of choice. We sit mired in traffic in soulless communities we hate, wasting time and precious energy; no amount of new roads will help.

There are many ways the state government can reward those that choose to be efficient and penalize those who choose to be profligate. A commitment to any or all of the following:

Revitalization of our national passenger rail system

Expansion and modernization of our national freight rail system

Commitment to equalizing spending on alternative transportation relative to highways, and

Greater energy taxes and tax incentives for alternative transportation

Would begin the process of making our state a national leader in energy conservation. We must wean ourselves from petroleum or nature will do it for us. Future generations will judge us favorably not by what we consume but by what we set in place to conserve.