Hap Connors

Hap Connors of the Commonwealth Transportation Board talks to attendees at a meeting Oct. 27, 2016.

FORMER Spotsylvania County Supervisor Hap Connors is now also a former Commonwealth Transportation Board member.

The Fredericksburg resident has a long history in transportation, first locally during his 2003-11 stint as supervisor and eventually as the Fredericksburg area representative on the CTB, which oversees the state’s transportation policies.

The 59-year-old was appointed in 2014 by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe and later reappointed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

CTB members at last week’s meeting in Richmond acknowledged Connors’ service and lauded his contributions. While reading a list of accolades in a resolution for Connors, CTB Vice Chairman F. Dixon Whitworth Jr. let slip that his former board colleague was even “able to walk on water.”

After the laughter died down, he continued with the actual resolution, noting Connors’ role as an advocate in helping garner $1 billion in transportation projects for the Interstate 95 corridor.

Technology, though, was the key focus for Connors, which makes sense considering his background as vice president for government and public affairs for the Center for Innovative Technology.

After joining the CTB, he pushed transportation leaders to prepare for and embrace the technological changes that seem inevitable for our cars, roads and mass transit. His efforts helped re-energize work related to the state’s innovation and technology transportation fund.

Some results are showing.

The state this year opened the Office of Transportation Innovation for better coordination.

And, the day before Connors’ resignation became official, the CTB heard details of 13 projects on a list targeted under the innovation and technology fund. The CTB will determine which projects to pursue.

Connors left the board because of a new job, which could have led to conflicts in transportation decisions, he said in an interview.

“It was a tough call, but easily reconciled by the fact that one pays, the other doesn’t, and with a wife and daughter in college, I chose the one that pays,” Connors wrote in an email. His wife, Carey, is working toward a seminary degree.

He leaves the CTB feeling a sense of accomplishment.

“I think we did some good things that improve the transportation system today and built a foundation for a better future,” he said.

But he also feels a twinge of concern about one unfortunate constant in the transportation world: lack of money to pay for what’s needed.

“I don’t know who the governor will appoint,” Connors said, “but I do hope it’s someone who is capable and passionate about continuing to advance the innovation agenda we helped launch. There are so many opportunities there—new solutions and new economic opportunities—and we simply cannot afford the current business model.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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