Freight Rail Would Ease Virginia’s Transportation Problems

Published July 2, 2008

Increased traffic congestion and oil prices are causing many Virginians’ heads to spin as the legislature is locked in a stalemate. ( June 29, “Legislators at Standstill Over Transportation, Taxes”) However, the problems are not exclusively Virginian, and neither is the answer to them.

The seventh annual Congestion Relief Index, written by Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Wendell Cox, found that shifting 25 percent of freight from trucks to rail by 2026 would dramatically reduce congestion, pollution, and fuel use in urban areas without unfairly burdening taxpayers.

Washington DC, Richmond, and Virginia Beach would see enormous impact from such a plan. The average commuter in these cities would save approximately $850 in congestion costs, 69 gallons of fuel, and 38 hours of congestion delay every year.

If Virginia’s government officials are serious about solving the transportation conundrum, they should unshackle the freight rail industry from excessive regulation and encourage private investment through public-private partnerships and tax incentives.

John Nothdurft ([email protected]) is a legislative specialist for The Heartland Institute.