Hands Across the Potomac with Ike Leggett and Sharon Bulova
WASHINGTON - Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova were guests on Thursday's "Hands Across the Potomac" program.
The pair decried the state of transportation in their respective jurisdictions. The upcoming changes to military installations in Virginia and Maryland under BRAC will put serious pressure on transportation infrastructure, they said. This includes maintenance on roads, most of which are managed by the state and already in disrepair.
"It is pretty deplorable," Bulova said of the state funding for road maintenance, which has "dwindled to the point where we're barely able to see our potholes repaired and filled."
"You're really starting to see a degradation in sidewalks and curbs and gutters and resurfacing of streets. It's just not happening."
These roads are about to get significantly more crowded.
Changes to military installations under BRAC will turn some critical commuter arteries into "virtually a parking lot," Leggett said.
"We have some aid from the state, but that is insufficient given the magnitude of the problem," said Leggett, pointing to the area around Old Georgetown Road and Wisconsin Avenue.
Montgomery County should expect 2,300 additional employees to the new military facilities, and up to half million visitors, he said.
"BRAC is like getting a drink of water from a firehouse," said Bulova. Roughly the same number of people who work at the Pentagon will move into positions at places like Fort Belvoir.
In case you missed the program, check out the full audio above and a live blog here:
10:56 a.m., speaking about Pepco:
Leggett: There are issues with Pepco outside of the winter, on bright, sunny days. I think they are responding and understanding the challenges. I'm not satisfied with what's happened in the past, but I'm willing to move on.
Bulova: I think we've been pretty satisfied with our power providers.
10:52 a.m., speaking about Metro safety and funding:
Bulova: Metro is a great system, it has experienced very successful growth. Consistently, we have not had the kind of funding we need to maintain the system. I recently wrote a letter to our federal representatives about their $150 million commitment to be matched by local government, and it sounds like that now could be in jeopardy.
Leggett: It certainly needs to be improved, but it is safe. There are always room for improvement, but that won't happen without federal funding.
10:44 a.m., speaking about the prosed Walmart in Tyson's Corner and ensuing traffic:
Bulova: Unfortunately, the Walmart is not something that is coming to the board of supervisors for approval. It is a "by right" proposal, where the company already has a zoning approval to build it.
"All land in Fairfax County is zoned for something, and the land on which the Walmart is proposed already has the zoning they need to do it. They have the legal right to go forward."
If it were up to me, that's not what the plan would call for.
10:42 a.m., speaking about cuts to media specialists, like librarians, in public schools:
Leggett: I agree, it's an important budget item within the school system's budget. The decision to adjustments within that budget, is up to the board of education.
The budget of education, even in this tight climate, will increase by 3.5 percent.
10:36 a.m., speaking about Costco's application for an exemption to install gas pumps:
Leggett: The gas station will go through a special exception process, and that is a rigorous process. I'm not sure if I think they should get it.
Costco is a good investment. We are paying a great deal for a shopping mall in Wheaton which is empty.
10:34 a.m., speaking about the Covanta trash-to-energy plant lease:
Bulova: Per the original agreement, once the debt to pay for the plant is paid off, which happened in February, the county has the option of purchasing the facility or leasing it to a private operator. We have been trying to negotiate with Covanta.
My preference would be to continue to lease, but to make sure we have the kind of terms that will continue to protect our residents and taxpayers.
We're hoping to have those terms by our board meeting on Tuesday.
10:32 a.m., speaking about BRAC traffic mitigation:
Leggett: We already have a lot of traffic there, 2,300 additional employees, half a million more visitors.