The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has revised its scoring system to evaluate highway and transit projects the Authority will vote to fund this spring.
“Congestion relief” is now awarded 45 points (out of 100) and project “readiness” is reduced from 25 points to 15 points. Other changes to the scoring system include increasing “improved bike/ped” to 10%, reducing “connectivity” to 5% and reducing “urgency” to 0%.
Increasing the weight assigned to a project’s ability to reduce congestion to 45% is a step in the right direction.
However, awarding points simply for readiness is like awarding trophies for participation or investing in a low-performing stock simply because it’s available.
A smarter approach is to transfer the remaining 15 “readiness” points to “congestion relief,” which would increase “congestion relief” to 60 points, the number recommended by the Alliance and other Northern Virginia business organizations.
Project readiness should be a consideration AFTER a project has been rated for congestion reduction, not as part of the project worthiness process.
Projects highly rated for congestion reduction and ready to go should be advanced. Those that are highly rated, but not ready to go should be fast-tracked with funds set aside for their construction. Projects that rate poorly in their ability to reduce congestion should be dropped from consideration regardless of their “readiness.”
Investing in projects simply because they are ready
is not a smart use of limited transportation dollars.