Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has put forward a new transportation goal for 2013, and that goal includes a challenge to legislators – find $500 million in new revenues to pay for it. At the Governor’s annual transportation conference, he laid out is plans for the state’s transportation system, announcing that he was working on a significant transportation funding package for the upcoming General Assembly session that will eliminate the need to transfer road construction funds to maintenance by 2019, and put at least $500 million a year in new transportation funding into roads, bridges, transit and passenger rail. The Governor will roll out his formal policy proposal in the weeks ahead.
Citing a transportation study, the Governor noted that the D.C./Virginia metro area was one of the most traffic congested areas in the country. In order to alleviate this and continue to provide a better travel experience for Virginia the Governor has set a goal of $500 million in new revenues annually by 2019. The new transportation revenues will be dedicated to maintenance, and will eliminate the current shortfall.
Speaking at the conference, the Governor said, “the challenges facing the Commonwealth’s transportation system boil down to jobs. Our ability to attract and retain jobs depends on our ability to come together across party lines and regional boundaries to finally address our transportation funding needs.” He noted that the state is loosing money on existing transportation revenues and will need to find new sources of funding in order to work through improvements and not simply maintaining existing infrastructure.
“The purchasing power behind Virginia’s motor fuels tax, the largest source of state transportation funding, has declined by 54% since 1986. On top of that decline, we have more vehicles traveling Virginia’s roadways, and increasing CAFE standards and use of alternative fuel vehicles. Declining revenues and growing needs present an ever increasing threat to our ability to maintain our existing infrastructure, construct new roads, and expand our transportation options,” he said.
The state currently has $14 billion in transportation projects underway or in procurement. Those projects include the Dulles Metrorail, downtown tunnel extensions, and many highway improvements. In addition rail work is underway, for the first time in 35 years, the city of Norfolk, Virginia will have Amtrak passenger rail access. State officials have also conducted four separate transportation audits finding billions of dollars that are now on track for reinvestment.
“The time to address our transportation funding challenges is now. We cannot continue kicking the can down the road,” the Governor said.