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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
October 2007

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Fall is finally here! Not that I didn’t enjoy the warm weather, but with Halloween around the corner, it just didn’t seem right that it was still 90 degrees outside. This Saturday, October 13th, I will be at Main Street Bagel from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for my monthly informal office hours. As usual, this is an informal way to simply catch up on current issues or to give me your feedback on issues affecting our community. I hope that you will consider stopping by.

While much of the current transportation debate has focused on new projects, I wanted to focus a little on the issue of transportation maintenance. The tragic bridge collapse on I-35 in Minnesota helped draw national attention to the issue. Here in the 37th District, while less dramatic, several years of tight maintenance budgets are reflected in less frequent mowing, litter accumulation, clogged storm drains, and deteriorating pavement.

The Code of Virginia places maintenance of our system as the number one priority – and rightly so. If we don’t maintain our system, it costs all of us much more in the long-term. However, the Code is silent on what constitutes adequate maintenance, and unfortunately, the maintenance budget does not reflect actual need. Only very recently has the General Assembly required the Virginia Department of Transportation to report on the condition of our existing infrastructure based on a consistent asset management methodology. The first report was released on September 15th. The results, while not unexpected, were dismaying. For instance, the performance standard for pavement condition was established at no more than 18% of pavement in the poor or very poor categories (defined as deficient). State-wide, the pavement condition survey found that we come close to meeting this target (21% for primary roads and 24% of secondary roads). However, in Northern Virginia, 42% of our primary roads and 44% of our secondary roads are rated as deficient. There is a similar discrepancy for ride quality.

The problem isn’t just overall funding, but how the funding is distributed – which is largely based on lane-miles rather than system usage. Now that we have actual statistics, I am hopeful that the members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will revise existing formulas to level the playing field. I have also met with the Northern Virginia representative on the CTB (Mr. Doug Koelemay) to see if the Code needs to be changed to require that funding is distributed based on actual need rather than an arbitrary formula.

The silver lining in all of this is that our bridges and culverts are in better shape than the rest of Virginia – primarily because our infrastructure is newer. In some parts of Virginia, more than 50% of bridges are over 40 years old. State-wide, 8.4% of bridges are structurally deficient, while 14.9% are functionally obsolete. This sounds scarier than it is. Structurally deficient means that there are elements that need to be monitored and/or repaired. Functionally obsolete means that the bridge was built to standards that are not used today. In Northern Virginia, only 1.7% of our bridges are structurally deficient, while 14.8% are functionally obsolete. All bridges and culverts measuring more than 20 feet are inspected at least once every two years, with those rated as structurally deficient subject to more rigorous inspection and maintenance.

I look forward to tackling this issue and to developing specific legislative proposals over the next few months. I’d appreciate your feedback. Let me know if you would like additional information and I will be happy to send you the reports along with a PowerPoint presentation by VDOT that outlines the entire transportation funding distribution process.


David Bulova

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Delegate David Bulova

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Fairfax, VA 22031
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Richmond, VA 23219
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