Infrastructure in Frederick County
The existing infrastructure in Frederick County must be strengthened in order to support future economic growth. I define the major components of infrastructure as transportation including roads, family housing, and healthcare for families and individuals.
As our County increases in population, there is a corresponding need for more and improved roads, with more lanes, better traffic control systems, and paving of back-country roads.
One of the most traveled highways in our County, I-81, is long overdue for improvements such as more lanes, efficient ramps for access and exits, and better traffic control systems and warnings. A couple of years ago, there was an effort by the state legislature to increase funding for much needed I-81 projects to reduce accidents (highest per capita in the state), improve safety, and accommodate future traffic increases. Two years ago, as a member of the Virginia Board of Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee, I was part of a six-Chamber Coalition to support state funding for I-81, appearing before our U.S. Senators to urge greater federal funding. In 2019, the state did allocate about $151M, along with other highway funding in the state. We need a concerted effort from Frederick County to request more state funding, in addition to seeking federal funding.
Our transportation needs should also include better mass transit systems. For example, it has been proposed in the past to provide transit (shuttles, buses, etc.) for students in various locations in the County and Winchester to go to Lord Fairfax Community College. For funding, we could ask our local businesses to advertise/sponsor the cost of transit vehicles. I would also propose a county-wide transit system for senior needs.
One of the American family dreams is to own a house. Unfortunately, for the average family, homes have become more expensive to purchase and harder to acquire. Based on 2019 data from the Economic Development Authority, the average home cost in Frederick County/Winchester City is $244,000. With 10% down, the mortgage would be about $220,000. To get a mortgage at 3%, you would need a salary of $55,000 per year. The average salary in Frederick County/Winchester City is $49,000.
During the pandemic, and with recovery in 2021, we must look at housing options for people who will be coming back into the workforce and employees who may have had to reduce incomes to keep their jobs. Let’s work with homebuilders to find options to make housing more affordable for these people.
All people have the right to accessible, high quality healthcare at an affordable price. Good health care includes good nutrition, a healthier environment, and greater longevity.
Truly decent healthcare, in which people do more than just survive, is a necessity. Health is not a negotiable matter. You can decide not to buy a new coat, but you cannot decide to ignore sickness, disease, broken bones, or chronic illness, all of which can put lives on the line.
If healthcare is more affordable, the benefit to the community will be less hospital and physician visits, less missed time at work for more productivity, and reduced cost of emergency services in the community.
The virus pandemic has helped us define new ways to work with diagnosing our health issues without having to travel from home. There are many hospitals and physician offices now offering Teleheath as a way to reduce costs by visiting virtually with a doctor or nurse, either diagnosing symptoms or as preventative care. We need to encourage such creative approaches to delivering quality healthcare to families in our community.