Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Governor McDonnell to Focus on Transportation in His Last Legislative Session

It will be his last legislative session as Governor, and look for Governor McDonnell to focus on transportation as his term ends. Today in Fairfax Governor McDonnell began to outline his ideas on transportation.

Speaking at the conference, Governor McDonnell said, "It’s a pleasure to be back in Tyson’s Corner, where just a few short weeks ago we celebrated the opening of the 495 Express Lanes Project – completed early and under-budget. Driving around the state, you can now see hundreds of projects underway to get people and freight in Virginia moving again. Many of these projects are being funded by our 2011 Transportation Funding Package, which set the framework for investing $4 billion over a three year period at a time when Virginia is seeing near historically low interest rates and construction costs. It is the most new funding for transportation in Virginia since 1986 and it happened through Republicans and Democrats working together. But our work is not done.

"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. The 2011 Texas Transportation Institute ranked the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia metropolitan area as the most congested area in terms of commuter delay in the U.S., and Hampton Roads isn’t far behind. This congestion had an average cost per commuter of $1,495 and an overall regional impact of $3.8 billion. 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.

The time to address these challenges is now. We cannot wait any longer. That is why I will be submitting a comprehensive transportation funding package for consideration during the 2013 General Assembly Session. My goal for our funding package is to generate at least $500 million in revenues annually by 2019. The new transportation revenues will be dedicated to maintenance, and will eliminate the shortfall which is causing more and more funds meant for construction to be instead spent just maintaining our existing infrastructure. This additional revenue will free up funds for new construction, and will lead to additional funds for transit and passenger rail. Over the coming weeks, we will be announcing additional aspects and specifics of this package. The time to address our transportation funding challenges is now. We cannot continue kicking the can down the road."

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