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Study offers ways to fix Va.'s secondary roads

Thursday - 6/30/2011, 5:26am  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - From hilly, backwoods roads to major commuter routes, Virginia is now looking for ways to fix a growing problem on rapidly secondary highways.

"The system is broken and not sustainable in its current form," says George Mason University Public Policy professor Jonathan Gifford, who just completed a study on the state's roads.

Virginia's roadways, with a few exceptions, have been controlled by the state since the Great Depression.

Among the options listed in Gifford's study:

  • Mandate roads to be turned over to local governments and in turn give local governments taxing authority to pay for building costs.

  • Outsourcing construction and maintenance of local roads to private contractors.

Right now only cities - along with Arlington and Henrico counties - have control over local roads.

"There's been a lot of success in urban areas, as well as some counties, in taking a larger role in construction," Gifford says.

Virginia's Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, who asked for the study, says these are only options.

"Our issue right now is to start this dialogue, because the current system and the way it's structured is not working," Connaugton says.

The secretary says money remains a major road block to highway construction and maintenance, adding that the Virginia General Assembly needs to look at some other options.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)