Friday, July 11, 2008

Clowning around with transportation

The General Assembly didn't know what to do about transportation, so it started its little car, honked its little horn, drove around the block and parked in the same place. As the parade of clowns got out of the car, they mugged and shrugged, ran around in circles and scattered.

Since the 140-clowns-in-a-car routine was way too familiar to the audience, it didn't get many laughs.

Rather than see it in a circus light, Gov. Tim Kaine (depicted above) compared the special session of the General Assembly, which was called to make some progress in dealing with Virginia's transportation woes, to a situation comedy:
"It was like a Seinfeld episode -- a show about nothing," Kaine told reporters at the Capitol, hours after lawmakers adjourned following a marathon 12-hour day, closing the six-day special session with no transportation fix for the state. "And in the House, it was a road session about nothing."
Republicans offered similarly scathing reviews of the governor. They faulted him for calling a special session that, they charged, was politically motivated and not ready for prime time.

Click here to read, “Kaine, Republicans blame each other” by Jim Nolan for the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

While it's easy to find fault with a legislative session that accomplishes nothing, it's still better than one that does the wrong thing. And, while I'm not prepared to say what ought not to have been done, I can say that the way gasoline prices are changing/will change the way people use Virginia's roads is something to think about. After all, a transportation fix designed a year or six months ago may already be out of date.

People are driving less. Times are changing fast.

Meanwhile, people who live in the outer ring of the suburbs of Virginia's cities are thinking about whether they ought to sell their houses and buy condos in the city. They're thinking about selling their monster-sized SUVs and buying bicycles.

Developers who are building in those suburbs that depend on folks driving their private vehicles to work and to shopping centers every day have to be worried. They should be.

The attractiveness of the far-flung lifestyle that brought on the suburban sprawl that lies close to the heart of Virginia's perceived transportation troubles appears to have has peaked. That trend may well have run its course.

If that's true, now what?

Good question. Send in the clowns.

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea

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