‘Keeping It Real’ Forum to Highlight Challenges to Continued Prosperity

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce will put the spotlight on the important issues that will affect the county’s future prosperity during an Oct. 4 forum at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

The “Keeping It Real” program will kick off with a keynote presentation by Anirban Basu of the Sage Policy Group, a both respected and entertaining voice on issues related to economic growth and quality of life issues in the Mid-Atlantic region.

There also will be a panel discussion featuring some of Loudoun’s top private sector employers and the workers they need to attract, millennials that have decided to call Loudoun home.

Registration and networking begins at 2:30 p.m., the program starts at 5 p.m. The cost is $50 for Chamber members and $75 for non-members. For details, go to loudounchamber.org.

One thought on “‘Keeping It Real’ Forum to Highlight Challenges to Continued Prosperity

  • 2017-09-20 at 3:14 pm

    On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, I talked with Nick Barbash, staff to Senator Tim Kaine, about the Senator’s position on a bridge from Loudoun County over the Potomac.

    Nick stated that, at this point, Senator Kaine does not have a position on the bridge; however, Nick went on to say the Senator’s opinion is that the cost of a bridge, even considering the toll bridge option, far outweighs the benefits, and that there are other transportation options on which money could be better spent. This statement appears, upon looking at the Senator’s web page under Transportation & Infrastructure (https://www.kaine.senate.gov/issues/transportation-and-infrastructure), to be consistent with the position the Senator has taken in the past publically.

    Nick further indicated that the legislative branch of the government can no longer, as of 2011, “Earmark” funds for local projects. To get transportation funding for local projects in either bills or in the budgets of the executive branch, the legislature would listen to recommendations made by the regional transportation bodies such as the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority which he mentioned by name. He went on to say that the bridge has been discussed for the past twenty or so years and that it has not, and still does not, have as high a priority in the opinion of the Senator as numerous other transportation-related projects, especially mass transit.

    Nick asked my opinion on the bridge and I stated that I had numerous concerns. In keeping with my belief that it is difficult to have anyone remember more than three arguments for or against any position, I mentioned the following three issues: 1) the limited value of the bridge to mitigate congestion on the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge and cited the related traffic data, 2) the limited value of the bridge to mitigate congestion for the east-west commute and indicated that this is THE major need for congestion relief, and 3) the major problem of the added 100,000 vehicles on Route 28 and the impact of this additional traffic on the roadway infrastructure of Loudoun and Montgomery Counties, and the Federal, state, and local tax burden this would create in attempting to deal with this problem. Nick indicated that they had not considered this latter point in their deliberations and wanted to talk about it at length. I concluded this portion of our discussion by stating that the Senator would probably not want to be associated with causing a tax increase for his constituents by supporting the bridge. Nick strongly agreed.

    We wrapped up by addressing the alternative use of funds that would otherwise be spent on the bridge. Nick mentioned mass transportation again and added in a negative tone that expanding and/or building more roads merely benefitted developers, not commuters, and lead to urban sprawl. We also discussed the need to fund maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure. He concluded this portion of our discussion by stating that this had to be the highest priority for use of funds; however, he went on to say, “fixing potholes is not as sexy in the eyes of the constituents as building new stuff; however, infrastructure is gaining more traction with them and with Congress”.

    As a result of this conversation, my feelings of the benefits of dealing with legislative staff on the bridge (or any other issue for that matter) as opposed to dealing with elected officials was strongly reinforced by my conservation with Nick. We need to do more of this type of thing with staff.

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