The Pocahontas Parkway east of Richmond has proved one of the biggest disasters Virginia has ever conjured up in recent years. Now it is provoking regional feuds over transportation policy power.
The Richmond Metropolitan Authority which oversees the city’s Downtown Expressway, part of the Powhite Parkway, some parking lots and the Diamond minor league baseball stadium, is considering trying to operate the bankrupt, 8.8 mile-long parkway that was the first road build under Virginia’s supposedly pioneering public-private partnership law.
Transurban, an Australian firm, has unloaded the underused parkway which it leased for $611 million in 2006 to three European banks which now are trying to find a new operator.
RMA has experience in that field but its ploy is seen as a power grab by board members from Chesterfield and Henrico Counties, which have only two representatives each on the RMA’s board of directors. Six are picked by Richmond. County folks think that is unfair. Their efforts to get the General Assembly to go to equal representation failed this year but it might come up again.
The issue is straining the concept of regionalism that Richmond’s ruling elite wants you to believe is a happening thing that’s all fine and dandy. One can’t get past the Commentary section of the Sunday Richmond Times-Dispatch without being fed another delusional tome by the newspaper’s publisher about how wonderful and important regionalism is.
Fact is, it stinks in Greater Richmond. It seems to work a lot better in Hampton Roads. The jury’s out on Washington.
So you have a story here that shows, once again, why public private-partnerships can stink and are not always the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too way to finance transportation. The lack of regional cooperation in Richmond is the back story.
For more, read my piece in the Chesterfield Observer.There are currently no comments highlighted.