Funding the Right Transportation Projects in Virginia?

Posted on March 1, 2017 in: Commonwealth Transportation BoardPrioritizationTransportation Funding

Funding the Right Transportation Projects in Virginia?

Smart Scale Project Scores Released

The Smart Scale results are in.

Of 404 projects submitted with a total price tag of $8.5 billion, the Smart Scale scoring process identified 136 projects totaling $969 million as the “best” candidates for funding.

View the CTB presentation on these scores and the list and scores for all projects.

Under Smart Scale, projects nominated largely by local governments compete for limited state transportation dollars based on their ability to mitigate congestion, encourage economic development, and improve accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use.

Smart Scale’s motto is “funding the right transportation projects in Virginia.”

But is it really doing this?

In public comment to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) earlier this month, the Alliance noted that dividing the total benefit score by the project’s requested funding, Smart Scale Scoring results in many lower benefit, lower cost projects being selected over those offering greater congestion reduction and other benefits, but with greater funding needs.

The Alliance stated that HB 2’s (the legislation that created Smart Scale) intent was to take politics out of the process by identifying and investing in projects that make the greatest difference, not simply those that are less expensive. “While spending a little money in a lot of places benefits more public officials, focusing more dollars on projects that move the most people and relieve the biggest choke points benefits more people and does more to help the state’s economy and overall transportation network.”

The Alliance also observed that in its current form, Smart Scale is a “bottom-up project selection process lack(ing) a bigger picture perspective” and expressed the hope that in the end the CTB will exercise its General Assembly-designated responsibility to ensure that our limited transportation resources are truly being invested in the right projects.

You can read the full Alliance comments here.

Funding the Right Projects Requires Investing in the Greatest Difference Makers, Not Simply the Least Expensive.