As Va. officials review SMART SCALE, some regional planners worry about shifting priorities
Planning officials in the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia fear proposals to change Virginia’s transportation funding system could significantly reduce state funding for smaller transportation projects for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board has been reviewing the state’s transportation funding process, SMART SCALE, which has been in place for the past seven years.
Some of the proposals being considered by the board include favoring larger transportation projects over smaller ones, lowering the number of applications local governments and planning organizations can submit and reducing the weight given to land use in applications.
Significantly, many bike and pedestrian projects could go unfunded under the proposed changes. According to data collected by a working group made up of Virginia’s Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, which advises state transportation leaders, and several consultants, 75% of the bike and pedestrian projects recently funded through SMART SCALE would have gone unfunded under the new rules.
“We certainly think there’s a lot of focus on highway road expansion statewide and no focus on climate change impacts with this approach,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
Trip Pollard, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center and leader of its Land and Community Program, said he’s concerned the proposed changes to SMART SCALE will harm the state’s ability to meet its goals of reducing air pollution and protecting the environment.
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