Scott Shenk writes about transportation issues affecting Fredericksburg-area residents. You can email him at

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VRE votes against senate bill to add state member to its board

The Virginia Express Railway Operations Board on Friday voted against a bill that some with the commuter rail system say would allow the state to basically take over VRE. (click here for the initial story)

The VRE board was responding to a bill approved Wednesday by a Senate committee. The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R–Stafford County, would add a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board to the VRE Operations Board. The VRE board now is made up of elected officials from localities that support the commuter rail service to Washington and one state public transportation department representative.

Thelma Drake, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, attended Friday’s VRE meeting as the state’s representative, in place of the regular attendee, Kevin Page.

She said the state doesn’t intend to control VRE. She also explained that one reason for the bill stemmed from an August vote in which the state representative’s “vote didn’t count, unless we were in that majority.” That motion sought to allow an outside audit of VRE. At the time there was confusion about how the weighted votes worked, but in the end the votes against the audit won out.

During the sometimes contentious meeting, VRE board members said they were disappointed in how the state went about pursuing another spot on the board.

Paul Milde, VRE board member and Stafford County supervisor, called the move “heavy-handed and sneaky.”

Most on the board said they understand the state wanting to make sure it has its fair say and were open to discussing the issue with state officials.

But in the end, the board voted against the senate bill. Drake voted against the motion.

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