Legislative Priorities

Virginia General Assembly - 2019 Legislative Session


Priority Positions

The Chamber’s Legislative Priority Positions are all related to transportation this year for the simple reason that traffic congestion in the area has reached a crisis point.  The paralysis this region experiences on a regular basis hinders the movement of goods and people, cuts into profits, and negatively impacts quality of life. 

According to a recent Chamber survey, 51% of respondents named transportation as one of the top issues facing their business.  The region has received significant funding on a variety of projects, but the momentum cannot stop.  Long-term changes are needed to ensure that Fredericksburg can compete for scarce state resources and deliver the necessary infrastructure our growing region desperately needs.

SmartScale Reforms

The Chamber requests legislation to amend the SmartScale scoring criteria to allow for a 7-day traffic count or flexibility in the timing of the 5-day traffic count to enable consideration of weekend traffic congestion.

The current SmartScale scoring criteria does not consider weekend traffic which is often when I-95 through Fredericksburg and surrounding secondary road networks are at their worst.  This congestion causes major delays and significantly impacts business and the region’s quality of life.  Adjustments to the current formula that either allow for a 7-day count or allow flexibility in the timing of the 5-day count would be of great benefit to congestion mitigation projects submitted by the region as part of the SmartScale process.  The traffic on I-95 is not a “Fredericksburg issue”, it is an issue that is key to our national security and economy.  Congestion around our nation’s capital makes us vulnerable and hinders interstate commerce along the East Coast’s premier north-south artery.

The Chamber requests legislation to mandate that Total Cost be used in SmartScale benefit and cost calculations instead of SmartScale Request Cost.

The current SmartScale scoring measure that utilizes “Request Cost” instead of “Total Cost” is a significant disadvantage for projects within the Fredericksburg region.  Other regions that are able to raise capital locally through a Regional Transportation Authority have funds to leverage and the ability to make smaller requests on projects of a similar scope, size, and importance.  Without the ability to leverage local dollars, Fredericksburg region projects cannot compete on a level playing field. 

The Chamber requests legislation to change the accessibility factor to better account for the Fredericksburg region’s large population of commuters. 

Under current SmartScale guidelines, the closer the job, the higher the accessibility score attributed to the project, but the jobs must be within a 45-minute commute to be utilized. According to our research, the roughly 60,000 outbound commuters from the Fredericksburg region travel a far greater distance than this to reach their jobs. With the current limit, the majority of our commuter jobs are not being included, and therefore are not accurately portraying the positive impact of highway projects in our region.

Regional Transportation Authority

The Chamber’s Regional Transportation Action Committee strongly advocates for the opportunity to establish a Regional Transportation Authority to leverage existing state and federal dollars to address regional transportation priorities. 

At the current time, the Fredericksburg region cannot even engage in a real dialogue since the statute needs to change before any action can be taken.  A regional transportation authority would provide a strong tool for the region to address current and future infrastructure issues.

The Chamber requests legislation to reduce the minimum population required to establish a regional transportation authority so that the Fredericksburg region may explore the opportunity of raising and spending dollars locally on transportation projects of importance.

Protection of Existing Project Funding

Programmed projects such as the Northbound and Southbound River Crossing and extension of the I-95 HOT lanes to Rt. 17 are critical to improving access and capacity in the I-95 corridor through Fredericksburg.  INRIX identified the stretch of I-95 from Stafford County to Fairfax County as the worst congestion in the entire country so ensuring the on-time, on-budget delivery of these infrastructure assets is crucial to this region.

The Chamber requests that our state delegation diligently track the progress of these project and work closely with the Virginia Department of Transportation to ensure the projects have the funds they need to be completed on schedule.