League of Women Voters of South Hampton Roads (LWVSHR) supports a balanced approach to transportation planning, emphasizing strategies that make maximum use of existing roadways and providing real alternatives to car use.
Our region and how we connect
Located in the southeast corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, we live among fresh, brackish and salt waterways and wetlands. Most of us cross water several times a day, using bridges, tunnels and boats. We live with daily tides, and we see frequent coastal flooding with water backing up into our streets, even during normal high tides and rains. In some years, we experience Atlantic hurricanes.
Our region is made up of several independent cities and counties (each with its own commercial center, governing body, and zoning ordinances). We have universities, health complexes, railroads, shipyards, air fields, military installations, farmlands, beaches, parks, and deep-water ports. We have nearly two million residents, and we travel many times each week outside the city or county where we live. Our region thrives on visitors, for business and pleasure, from around the world.
Our vision for transportation in our region
- Mobility: All our residents and visitors will have real options for moving around, resulting in more options for where we live and where we go in our daily lives.
- Accessibility: All of us, including those of all ages and those with disabilities, will be able to reach work places, schools, businesses, senior centers, health services, government offices, libraries, places of worship, recreation, public lands, waterways, airports, and train stations. During hurricanes or other emergencies, all residents will have safe travel options for evacuation.
- Connectivity: Businesses will have multiple options for receiving and delivering their goods and services in the region. Individuals will be able to move seamlessly and safely among different transportation modes: walking or using bicycles, wheelchairs, scooters, buses, private vehicles, ride-hailing services, light rail, trains, ferries, long-distance buses, planes, and other modes yet to appear.
What is needed
We call for regional planning organizations, as well as each city and county, to devote more weight, time, and resources to modes of transportation other than single occupancy vehicles, such as active transportation and public transit. We ask them to encourage multiple transportation modes, in order to improve mobility for all our residents, including the young, the old, those with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged. We urge them to find even more ways to involve area residents, both as individuals and members of organizations, frequently and continuously in all planning and discussions.
We urge the governing bodies of local jurisdictions, planning commissions, the Virginia General Assembly, and the U. S. Congress to take seriously the changing patterns of sea levels, land use, zoning, commercial parking requirements, recurrent flooding during high tides and heavy rainfall, and their impact on our transportation.
We invite transportation planners, providers, and decision-makers to join us in using various modes of transportation as a part of our daily lives.
Our region will continue to need funds from within and from without, but the types and sources of those funds are changing. For example, taxes on fossil fuels will play a less important role in the decades ahead. Our region has suffered adverse experience with Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for transportation projects; residents are concerned and hesitant to trust PPPs.
We call for clear definitions and realistic measures of the user fees, public subsidies, and private investments in all modes of transportation. For example, the costs to a business or an individual of owning and using a vehicle (including fees, tolls, fuel, taxes, maintenance and the value of the driver’s undivided attention time), must be compared with the costs and times for the same trips using other modes. We also need to know the costs to the public of our highways, streets, and parking facilities (including building, maintenance, operation, law enforcement, and pollution per person-mile traveled), compared with the costs of other modes of travel. Such costs should be weighed against the benefits, to all segments of the public and to the environment, of various transportation modes.
We remain concerned about transparency and broad public discussion of transportation projects and their funding. We encourage studies of funding mechanisms to achieve appropriate transportation funding, which can enhance social and economic justice for our region.
Adopted May 19, 2019 by the Annual Meeting of the LWVSHR
League to which this content belongs:South Hampton Roads