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Former Del. William Fralin brings experience and perspective to state transportation board.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Gov. Bob McDonnell did the Roanoke and New River valleys a favor last week when he appointed former state Del. William Fralin to represent the region on the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The governor would have had a hard time finding a more capable candidate than the Roanoke businessman to succeed outgoing Salem District member Dana Martin.
Fralin served for six years in the House of Delegates and sat on the transportation committee, where he gained an in-depth perspective on policy and the challenges of building and maintaining a multimodal transportation network. He also served an eventful stint as chairman of the Virginia Port Authority’s governing board, which wisely rejected recent proposals to privatize operations of the state’s coastal terminals.
As a businessman and community leader, Fralin understands how important transportation is to the region’s economy. As a former legislator, he recognizes how easily Southwest Virginia can be overlooked when it comes to setting and funding transportation priorities.
“In my opinion, it’s kind of uniquely important for us in the Roanoke and New River valleys because sometimes out here we can be forgotten,” Fralin said.
Don’t expect the region to be forgotten on Fralin’s watch. Anyone who watched him on the House Transportation Committee and other legislative panels knows that Fralin can exhaust colleagues with relentless questions and suggestions to make sure he casts an informed vote and that reasonable alternatives are considered. Transportation officials would do well to have their homework done before facing him in a board meeting.
Fralin said in an interview that he recognizes the importance of looking after the region’s interests and making sure statewide transportation needs are addressed “in a responsible manner.” He said he “probably” would have voted for the transportation funding bill passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, but cautioned that he was not privy to details of alternatives that were debated by lawmakers.
Fralin joins the 17-member transportation board at an important time. Plans to extend passenger rail to Roanoke are in the works. The transportation funding bill provides more money to address long-neglected highway needs.
Fralin’s appointment provides assurance that this region will have an effective voice at the table when funds are allocated.
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