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COLUMN: Appointments may have impact

WITH Gov. Terry McAuliffe now in office, there have been some changes in the transportation sector.

One or two big changes have Fredericksburg-area ties—the new chiefs at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Spotsylvania County resident Charles Kilpatrick moved from the No. 2 spot to become VDOT’s new commissioner. Former Fredericksburg VDOT administrator Quintin Elliott is now the No. 2 statewide man.

What that means for the Fredericksburg area is hard to say, but it can’t hurt having two people intimately familiar with the region’s road challenges at the helm.

Kilpatrick made an appearance at last week’s Virginia Railway Express meeting, along with new Secretary of Transportation Aubrey L. Layne and Jennifer Clinger Mitchell, the new director of Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Layne, Mitchell and VRE Operations Board members said all the right things, the typical honeymoon type of talk.

They have some work to do, though.

VRE’s relationship with the former administration and state transportation leaders became strained last year—the result of everything from state audits to a wrestling match over a bill to increase the state’s voting power on the VRE board.

Matt Kelly, Fredericksburg councilman and VRE board member, told the new transportation officials they are open to making changes; they just don’t want it forced on them.

Layne and Mitchell told the board they want to work with the commuter rail system, and they appear willing to delay the implementation of the state’s new weighted voting rights on the VRE board.

There is currently a bill in the Senate that would repeal the bill giving the state more VRE voting power.

What happens with that could say a lot about the future of VRE in the eyes of the state.

Dear Scott: What is the formula or thought process concerning road repair versus maintenance?

On Hope Road and Greenridge Drive in North Stafford the roads have had severe cracking that has been ongoing for a few years. Now that we are having a wet winter the cracking is turning into pot holes and they are becoming problematic.

I would have thought it would be cheaper, not to mention smarter, to have the county or VDOT maintain the road before critical failure.

—Carlos Hathcock, Stafford

The Virginia Department of Transportation has pavement managers who assess the conditions of primary and secondary roads. They help determine whether a road makes it on VDOT’s paving and repair schedule.

Some roads may not look like they need to be fixed, said VDOT’s Tina Bundy, but samples can prove otherwise. If a road is found to be in need of repairs, it gets done according to funding priorities.

Hope Road is scheduled for resurfacing in 2015. Greenridge Drive is being considered for such work.

To report a pothole, you can call VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center at 800/FOR-ROAD (800/367-7623).

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436