Top officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation are projecting up to an additional

$2.4 billion in cuts from state and federal transportation revenues

. The reduction will cause VDOT to lay off up to 900 employees and several construction projects that are in the design stage will be reviewed. However, projects that are close to going to contract will proceed, including the

Meadowcreek Parkway

.

VDOT is putting together a “blueprint” to determine how it will handle the decreases in revenue, which are on top of a

$1.1 billion reduction that was announced in June 2008

. Projects will be reviewed over the next six weeks, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board will revise the six-year road program in January. Many of the lay-offs will come at the residency level, where 30% of the personnel reductions are expected to be borne.

Revenues are down because people are driving less, resulting in lower revenues from gas taxes. People are buying fewer cars, resulting in lower motor vehicle taxes. Additionally, the federal government is experiencing the same decline in revenues due to the federal gas tax. Congress agreed to spend $8 billion on an emergency bailout of the federal Highway Trust Fund. The outlook for funding construction projects through bonds is also lower because of a decline in insurance premium revenues.

As the project review proceeds, priority will be given to the completion of existing projects underway, fixing unsafe bridges, and projects that relieve congestion.

Transportation Secretary

Piece Homer

said during a media conference call that the changes are structural and long-term in nature, and that he does not expect gas taxes to bounce back soon. Federal revenues pay for 60 percent of construction, and those are shrinking.

VDOT Commissioner

David Ekern

said projects that are not priorities will be not done. However projects where VDOT has most or all of the funding is in place will proceed.

“[Projects that] we can see being under contract and under construction, those will stay on schedule,” Ekern said.

In response to a direct question about whether the Meadowcreek Parkway would be under review, Ekern gave a one-word response:

“No.”

This week, VDOT finally advertised for contractors to submit bids for construction of County portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway. The City’s portion will go to advertisement on February 20, 2009. The proposed grade-separated interchange with the Route 250 Bypass is still being designed by RK&K, although City Council has

approved a concept that will use a “signalized diamond” to allow motorists to go from the Bypass to the Parkway and McIntire Road

.

Sean Tubbs

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