Transportation Troubles: Fauquier, Culpeper, Warren, Rappahannock | Tristan Shields

Our Transportation Nightmare: Fauquier, Culpeper, Warren and Rappahannock

2nd Most Expensive Commute in America

We need to solve the problems we have. Not problems made up by lobbyists who don’t live in rural Virginia.

Too Much, Too Little

That describes our transportation situation in District 18.

Problems going OUT to work and problems going IN to town.

In a recent Bloomberg report, Fauquier County was identified as having the second most expensive commute in America. This is a HUGE deal for 20,000 Fauquier citizens that drive on 29 and 66 every day. It’s close to 30% of the population of the entire county. This is echoed all over District 18. This is a wonderful place to live but why should we pay almost 20% of our hard-earned income and 352 hours a year just to get to work?  

Our Republican legislators may think Route 66 should be a one-way road to Northern Virginia, but that is totally out-of-step with the reality of work in Culpeper, Fauquier, Rappahannock and Warren counties. Unlike many of his constituents, our current Delegate, Michael Webert, doesn’t have to commute. Maybe that’s why, for the past 8 years, he has done nothing to address this quality of life issue impacting so many in his district. If he was awake and conscious of this situation, he would have advocated for VRE expansion to Haymarket in 2017 instead of letting Prince William kill it. He would be pushing for rural broadband so more people could work from home. What he’s done on this issue? Nothing.

Now, let’s look inward. Many of our senior citizens and others who can’t drive are literally stranded in their retirement communities and their homes within District 18. While in-town transportation services are available through a state and town partnership with VRT, many people in the counties are left on their own. The irony is the majority of people who work in the towns (Warrenton, Culpeper, Front Royal) can’t afford to live in town. While the people who can afford to live in town are commuters who don’t need the service. This gap is most visible with our elderly. At a recent gathering of seniors in Bealeton, many shared that they have no way to shop in Warrenton or Culpeper because they have no transportation. Again, if our current Delegate, Michael Webert, wasn’t again asleep at the wheel, this problem would have been addressed a long time ago.

The truth is we need to solve the problems we have. We have a transportation problem. We can’t ignore them and hope they go away. If we want to maintain our rural way of life we need leaders who prioritize innovation and conservation at the same time. As a small business owner in Rixeyville, with family commuting every day, I know we need to tackle transportation now and stop kicking it down the road.