Transforming Transportation: Peace along with House Republicans Reveal Reform Plans

Mechanicsville, VA – In preparation for the continuing special session on the Commonwealth’s transportation structure, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced a comprehensive package of legislation to reform the delivery of services in the Commonwealth.

The House Republican legislative plan contains numerous bills that would continue to reform, streamline and modernize the operations of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). This comprehensive plan will be considered when the General Assembly reconvenes for the final portion of the 2006 Special Session, scheduled to resume the week of September 25.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) believes that comprehensive transportation reform is needed and overdue. “Residents of our district continually contact my office about VDOT. I am asked numerous times to help them get pot holes paved, tree limbs trimmed or ditches cleared. There are also complaints over surfacing and other maintenance issues. VDOT must be overhauled and restructured in order to more effectively address the citizen’s needs. In the end it is the citizens who employ and pay for VDOT to operate,” said Del. Peace.

Components of the plan include measures to increase public-private partnerships, which is important to expand the potential investment from the substantial market of private equity available to enhance transportation assets. The plan also proposes the creation of a legislative Transportation Accountability Commission. This reform will establish an oversight commission to ensure accountability on the transportation decisions impacting the commuters and businesses of Virginia. This action is important in securing a responsive and accountable transportation service delivery organization.

Another plan element focuses on shifting hiring authority for the VDOT Commissioner to the CTB, and an inclusion of General Assembly appointed members to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). Reform of this nature will provide greater stability and accountability. CTB will be responsible for VDOT’s successes and failures. “Right now the legislature has little oversight of the transportation decision making process once the funds are appropriated,” said Peace. This change also seizes the opportunity for increased continuity and performance from a professional Commissioner. Oftentimes, it is challenging to attract quality professionals to the VDOT Commissioner position if it is limited to a four-year term and subject to changes in gubernatorial administrations.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to represent the 97th District of the the Virginia House of Delegates on January 24, 2006. Peace now sits on the prominent House Courts of Justice, Health Welfare and Institutions, and Science and Technology Committees.