Richmond Highway corridor utility undergrounding effort stymied again


Overhead transmission lines along the Richmond Highway Corridor in Penn Daw

The prospect for utilities to be undergrounded along the Richmond Highway Corridor encountered another setback last week.

On Friday, May 12, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed legislation that would have funded an underground electricity distribution line along Route 1 in Fairfax County in support of the Richmond Highway Bus Rapid Transit project. The legislation had passed unanimously in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.

State Senator Scott Surovell, who had convinced the original sponsors of the bills, both Fauquier County Republicans, to include the Richmond Highway project in their respective pieces of legislation, said in a May 14 Facebook post that he was “disappointed” about the veto. 

According to Surovell, the governor nixed the bill because he felt local governments should make undergrounding-related decisions, yet, as Surovell pointed out, the legislation itself stated that local consent was required. Surovell thanked the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Mount Vernon Springfield Chamber of Commerce for providing letters of support for the legislation.

Another reason Youngkin vetoed the bill, according to a May 13 story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was because he was concerned about “inflation caused by Washington” and the potential for cost overruns to cause unforeseen expenses for consumers.

Despite the setback, some sections of Richmond Highway that are under development, such as the future Alexandria Crossing site pictured above, will be required to underground utilities.

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