“Shakespeare in…Traffic?” – Post by Brian Fauls, Government Affairs Manager, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce [photo below via Google Images]
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“But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail” – Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Act 1
For many, many years the battle against traffic congestion boiled down to money, or the lack thereof. Every local politician worth their salt would commiserate with their constituents about the traffic and then wring their hands and rail against “those guys” – usually their political opponents – for being unwilling to find the money to solve the problem.
But something strange happened in 2013, “those guys” in the General Assembly, no doubt in a fit of temporary sanity, finally struck a deal and found the money. They mustered the courage and committed, as Lady Macbeth would describe “the sticking point”.
Is it enough money to fix every bottleneck and missing link all at the same time, no. But it is money to finally do something about those bottlenecks. Perhaps more importantly, it’s enough money to take money off the table as an excuse for doing nothing. However, as tough as it was to get our politicians to summon the political will to actually find the money, it’s going to be as hard, if not harder, to get them to summon the political courage to actually implement the solutions.
Let’s face it, we’ve all heard about politicians who were for something before they were against it. You want to know why that happens, because it’s easy to be for something when there is zero chance of that something actually happening. The real test of political fortitude is standing firm when you can actually do something.
Cases in point, the fights over the Bi-County Parkway (not dead by any means despite what a vocal minority may say), the western access road to Washington-Dulles Airport, and the emerging qualms over improving I-66. These projects enjoyed wide-spread support when they were just wishful thinking. When they became possible – even if years away from actually happening – all bets were suddenly off.
Now, I admit it, political cold feet isn’t always bad. Sometimes though, political cold feet just stops things dead. But when it comes to traffic congestion, I’d rather get home to see my kids.
They had the courage to get the money. It’s time to “screw up” the courage to spend it. So whatever it takes, begging, pleading, cajoling or browbeating, our region’s elected officials need to be persuaded to Ranger Up, and finally DO something about our traffic.
We’ve come too far. The stakes are too high. Failure is not an option.