JAMES CITY - What to support in the General Assembly this winter became a bickering point among James City County supervisors Tuesday evening, as it contemplated a legislative agenda.
Among the disputes was whether a line included in the resolution was showing support for high speed rail, a controversial issue locally. Supervisor Kevin Onizuk said he felt money needed to be directed toward roads. The text in the resolution reads:
“The County supports improving commuter rail system from Richmond through the Peninsula to connect urban centers for commuters and provide transportation alternatives for tourism.”
“There is a very very strong statewide and regional push to support implementing high speed rail in southwestern Virginia and going down to Carolina, the costs are astronomical,” Chairwoman Mary Jones said. She noted a recent study she said she viewed at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization that saw costs for high speed rail rising.
John McGlennon, said he felt support for existing commuter rail was important, and emphasized it was unlikely the Peninsula would ever see a high-speed rail line because of the difficulty of achieving speed.
McGlennon said the county needed “additional trains to travel from the east coast corridor to Williamsburg and Newport News than it currently has.”
“I support our existing rail system,” said Onizuk. “Passenger rail is important. I wanted to make sure we’re not promoting or supporting a new high speed rail line for commuter purposes .We have more significant transportation needs in fixing our roads, primary roads.”
In addition, there was controversy over whether the county should support the legislative agendas of the Virginia Municipal League, the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Coalition of High Growth Communities. Supervisor Jim Kennedy said he felt the board needed to do a better job of keeping members informed of service work on various committes, including VACO.
The agenda passed unanimously after discussion was completed.