A year ago, I was standing at the polls in Vienna when a constituent approached me with a novel idea.
For years, we have complained about the medians and lack of mowing for the secondary roads in Fairfax County. (Yes, even when it’s not campaign season).
The maintenance deficit for secondary roards arises from the diminishing revenue in our state’s Transportation Trust Fund (note: all secondary roads in the County are owned by the State, which can subcontract maintenance to the locality or a private company). Without dedicated revenues, there are less funds for tractors and personnel.
My constituent’s idea was simple: let private companies maintain public rights-of-way in exchange for a small bit of advertising, akin to the “Adopt a Spot” program for maintaining public highways.
This year I submitted SB 834 which was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. It gave localities to the right to implement this privatizing program at the local level, thereby taking the burden off VDOT and allowing localities more authority.
The bill was such a great idea … that it was already permitted by state law. Specifically, VDOT already has the capability to enter a partnership agreement with private contractors or localities for maintence. So SB 834 died a quiet death in Committee, but not until after I had written VDOT and Fairfax County asking them to actually put the program in place.
Over the past two months, I have continued to speak with VDOT personnel about implementing the SB 834 solution, with a target date of 2012 summer.
In order to make it happen, we need bonded contractors who are willing to do this work in exchange for the free advertising it represents. We also need counties like Fairfax to administer the program. (Note that cities already own their own streets and thus can enter these private contracts without state approval).
Will it work? Not sure yet. But we won’t know until we try it out.