At Least It’s Not Thelma Drake
So far, the appointment of Sean Connaughton as Virginia’s next Secretary of Transportation looks to be a very pleasant (if unexpected) surprise from Bob McDonnell, doubly so given that his transportation proposals up until now had, um, left something to be desired at best.
This even goes triply considering the early signals that McDonnell was preparing to pick former Virginia Beach congresscritter Thelma Drake instead, who would have been quite possibly the worst choice for VDOT’s top post. Drake, the immediate successor to Ed Shrock – who himself left Congress on account of teh ghey – has little particular transportation experience other than writing earmarks into omnibus bills to build an unrequested freeway interchange directly into Pat Robertson’s compound. Regardless, McDo referred to her as one of his “transportation experts” in his much-hyped transportation platform. Given her ties to the usual suspects of Hampton Roads’ growth machine, it would not be surprising if she was behind his seemingly irrational insistence on building the Oceana Sprawlway and so-called “Third Crossing”, even as the likelihood of either appears somewhat less likely in the face of growing local opposition and demands to consider less costly or destructive alternatives.
Connaughton, having ties to both northern and southeastern Virginia, is not only considerably more of a centrist but would appear to have a broader understanding of transportation issues in Virginia at large. More importantly, though, he has strong maritime ties, which might bode well for passenger ferry proposals in Occoquan, particularly given his experience as Prince William County executive).
More tantalizing is the possibility of reconsidering and renewing passenger ferry service in Hampton Roads. It has long confounded and frustrated me that southeastern Virginia treats the miles and miles of navigable water snaking through practically every nook and cranny of the region as transportation liabilities rather than assets. Given the bottleneck nature of the harbor tunnels and their constant stoppage, an adequately funded, pervasive, consistent and well-marketed ferry network would likely be competitive, and would at least do well to supplant mobility and improve transportation choices.
On the other hand, given his connection to the shipping industry, Connaughton could equally likely green-light the “third crossing” project, which has long been viewed as a “gift” or “handout” to the Port of Virginia. Of course, he hasn’t even been inaugurated, so we have yet to see whether he’ll hinder sprawl or enable it.