Legislative Progress and Administrative Changes - TransDominion Express


Legislative Progress and Administrative Changes

We are very encouraged by our legislative and advocacy momentum, today. Much activity has transpired over the past few months and some progress has resulted. Put aside any short-sighted frustration and look at what we’ve actually accomplished!

On March 30, 2006, following the official “close” of the 2006 Legislative session, the TDX Board met in Roanoke, the first meeting since gaining its corporate status. Barbara Hartley, TDX Legislative Liaison, gave an update following her time spent in Richmond at the 2006 General Assembly session.

TDX took advantage of a bill filed by Roanoke Senator John Edwards to create a state rail authority. He agreed to modify his bill SB215 to instead create a TransDominion Express Authority. While the bill reported from the Senate floor unopposed and promised wide-spread endorsements among House members, it was ultimately blocked on the House floor, not on basis of merit, but one of several political hostages to the budget stalemate still ongoing in Richmond. However, this maneuvering served to raise the standard for TDX and we fully expect passage of the initiative in the 2007 session.

Lynchburg’s new delegate, Shannon Valentine, took the initiative to offer a House budget amendment to provide $200,000 administrative seed money for TDX expenses over the next 2-3 years. Her figures were based on information provided at a meeting with Karen Rae, former Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT), and Barbara Hartley. But, this budget item met the same fate as SB215, stifled on the House floor during votes to whittle down the Governor’s budget.

Purchase of VRE Cars: We appear to have the needed votes from the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to approve purchase of the passenger cars, however, the vote has yet to be placed on the CTB agenda. At the January meeting, Karen Rae delivered a TDX update and TDX Board member, Bill Smith, drove to Richmond from Marion, VA to address the CTB on behalf of the TDX proposed Demonstration Line.

Leadership & Alliances: A number of changes transpired at this session, now in extended special session.

  • VDRPT Director Karen Rae resigned mid-session to accept a position in Pennsylvania as Deputy Secretary of Transportation. Corey W. Hill is now Acting Director, hired by Rae to oversee the Dulles Rail Corridor project.
  • Scott Kasprowicz has been named Deputy Secretary of Transportation, under Pierce Homer. Sharing the title with incumbent Deputy, Ralph Davis, it appears that Kasprowicz has particular interests in rail and environmental concerns.
  • New or improved alliances are developing with Virginia Railway Express (VRE). Mark Roeber, liaison for VRE, worked tirelessly for passage of the TDX Authority and budget amendment. He told Hartley that success of TDX would multiply VRE success in a number of ways. Michael Testerman, of Virginia Association of Rail Patrons (VARP) and Rail Solutions, also worked for passage of TDX legislation. As a result, TDX and Rail Solutions are revisiting common ground for future advocacy.
  • In relation to the Tennessee connection and other adjacent states, other helpful alliances are currently being developed for greater federal support and funding.


Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, named acting Secretary in March 2005, when Whitt Clement stepped down, was officially named to the cabinet post during the 2006 General Assembly by Governor Tim Kaine.

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