Virginia to invest $4 billion in transportation infrastructure

Under the terms of a sweeping legislative package signed into law yesterday, Virginia will spend nearly $4 billion on transportation infrastructure over the next three years. The money is expected to fund more than 900 projects statewide without raising taxes. Projects are will range from road and bridge improvements to increased rail and transit services. Overall, the project is expected to increase the Virginia economy by over $13 billion and create nearly 100,000 new jobs.

The legislation, uses several financing mechanisms that will take advantage of current low interest rates on bonds. Under the terms of the package, VDOT will issue $1.8 billion in bonds over the next three years along with $1.1 billion in federally backed Direct GARVEE Bonds.

The state will also create Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which will make low-interest loans and grants to localities, transportation authorities and private-sector partners for transportation projects. The bank will be funded through a $283 million allocation from the 2010 budget surplus. The Governor has set a goal of putting $1 billion into the bank through a variety of funding mechanisms over the next three years.

Other measures in the package will allow for the use of inmate labor at rest areas, increased authority over contracts and budget surpluses for the VDOT commissioner and repeals of outdated laws. The state is also aiming to streamline its transportation procurement process by increasing the initial contract period for term contracts.

Governor McDonnell noted, “It has been over 20 years since we have made a major investment in our transportation system. For far too long Virginians sat stuck in traffic while partisan politics put the brakes on progress. This year we put partisanship aside and recognized that for Virginia to retain its status as the friendliest state in the nation for business, we must invest in transportation and help the private sector create much-needed jobs in all parts of the Commonwealth.”